Freelancing is increasingly becoming the career path of choice for many workers in the UK.
It’s not easy, though, and far too many people still enter the world of freelancing without realising how hard they’ll need to work in order to run a sustainable business.
The biggest problem is often the many distractions that come from home working that inevitably lead to long periods of procrastination.
Behavioural psychology has long studied the reasons we are all capable of procrastinating, but I hope the following five tips can help new and experienced freelancers alike become far more productive, no matter what distractions are nearby.
1. Do the hard stuff first
Some productivity methods are backed by science, while others call on nothing more than good, old-fashioned common sense.
For instance, if you start your day by browsing your to-do list and deciding to pick off the easy targets first, you’re setting yourself up for an afternoon which demands the hard tasks be tackled. And think about it – are you really going to feel like doing that stuff then?
Always start your day by completing the most difficult and important tasks first; you’ll thank yourself for it later on.
2. Abide by the 2 minute rule
There’s one exception to our advice in tip number one, and that relates to tasks that take two minutes or less to complete.
Look at your to-do list in the morning and identify anything that can be done super-fast. Get those jobs out of the way immediately, so you can crack on with the harder items; these quick tasks will act as great ‘lubricant’ for your mind.
3. Identify and reduce distractions
The TV or radio blaring in the background could be your worst distractions. Equally, the fact that your smartphone sits to the left of your keyboard throughout the day and offers just a few finger taps into a world of social media might be the one thing that’s letting you down.
As a freelancer, you’re on your own. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid, which means you need to be honest with yourself and identify the distractions that are preventing you from getting work done.
Once identified, remove them or remove yourself from them. That might be as simple as placing your phone in another room and turning off notifications or as ambitious as converting part of the house into your own little office. Whatever it is, do it!
4. Prioritise your to-do list
We’ve touched on this briefly already, but your to-do list should be the beating heart of your freelancing business.
However, if it’s just one big lump of tasks, you’ll quickly be overwhelmed. Instead, highlight the difficult tasks so you know where to start and which items can’t be delayed.
Set a time against the items you fear will get pushed back in order to commit yourself. So, for instance, instead of ‘send report to Client A’, write ‘2PM: send report to Client A’.
You’ll be surprised by how much this will motivate you.
5. Break large tasks into bite-sized chunks
Too many jobs get delayed or avoided entirely because they appear too big.
Resolving this is simple; break down those big tasks into smaller chunks to make them more palatable. For instance, if you need to write an eBook, rather than telling yourself to ‘write my eBook’, break it up by word count, so the task instead reads ‘write 500 words of my eBook.
Fancy one last tip as a bonus?
One of the best things you can do in order to stop procrastinating as a freelancer is to modify the way you spend your free time. By developing great productivity habits during leisure activities, you’ll carry the same mindset into your daily work.
Go forth and be productive – freelancing should be enjoyable, profitable and capable of making you very happy indeed.