10 Best Productivity Tips for Freelancers in 2022

The gig economy continues to be charming for everyone due to its many perks. According to Upwork’s Freelance Forward Economist Report, 56% of surveyed non-freelancers are looking forward to freelancing in the future.

But while freelancing affords you the freedom to manage your time and work process, it also brings challenges.

You may be tempted to waste more time than usual since you don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder. You could also fall victim to domestic distractions that will force you to do non-work-related activities when you have a deadline to beat.

These drawbacks will hurt your productivity and have the potential of derailing your career.

That’s why we’re going to show you effective tips that will help you boost productivity in 2022.

1.  Create a Dedicated Workspace and Keep it Optimized

You have to deal with lots of domestic distractions when you work from home. Creating a dedicated workspace ensures these distractions won’t disrupt your work.

Also, different responses are stimulated in our brains when we walk into a room. So, walking into your office environment every morning will get into your work mood and also keep you focused.

Make sure the home office is fitted with everything you need so you don’t have to always stop work and step out for supplies.

2.  Optimize Your Time Management

You can’t be productive if you don’t optimize how you use your time. From setting up a schedule to utilizing effective time management practices, there are many ways to use your time productively.

Create a Schedule and Stick to it

Creating a schedule, especially when you work from home is one of the best building blocks for improving productivity.

The work schedule helps you to structure your day and define your working hours.

Working as a freelancer means you have control of your time, making it easy for you to lose focus. You may think it’s easy to go on with your day and handle tasks as they come. But that’s just a recipe for low productivity.

So, define your working hours and create a schedule around it. To do that, build a to-do list and allocate time slots starting from your first working hour.

Remember that the work schedule you created will be useless if you don’t stick to it. Respecting your work hours will give you stability and a sense of purpose.

Track Your Time

Time tracking primarily helps you to track your billable hours and provide better quotations to clients. But there’s a lot more that you can achieve when you track your time.

For starters, you can use a time tracker to monitor how much time you spend on tasks on average. This data can help you do a number of things, including:

  • Optimizing your schedule since you know the right amount of time to allocate to each task
  • Making better project billing estimates since you know how many hours will likely go into executing a project
  • Increasing productivity since time trackers allow you to
  • Identify and remove activities that waste your time
  • Discover areas you need to improve
  • Estimating how long you can execute a project so you know how many jobs you can handle and when to delegate or outsource

Use Time Blocking

Time blocking involves allocating specific time slots to items on your to-do list. This technique ensures you’re focused on tasks that matter and guides your efforts towards executing jobs at the right time.

3.  Stop Multitasking

You may think that you handle more than one task when you multitask and save time by doing two things at once.

However, the truth is, you’re interrupting tasks whenever you go back and forth between them. You’re also wasting valuable time and killing productivity. That’s because interruptions disrupt your work process and can cause you to make mistakes.

According to a study published by researchers from the University of California, Irvine, interruptions can cost you more than 20 minutes of work hours.

So, make sure you focus on one task at a time and use time blocking to allocate specific time periods for each task.

4.  Get Rid of Distractions and Time Wasters

As we mentioned, time trackers can help you identify time wasters such as meetings, social media websites, and responding to emails. Some time trackers can monitor and provide detailed analysis on how much time you spend on apps and websites.

So, you can use your time-tracking tool to find these activities, then avoid them.

You should also look out for domestic distractions that can pull you off track and avoid or delegate them.

5.  Use Your Productive Hours

Your productive or golden hours are periods in your day when you’re more energized to work compared to others. Some of us are morning people while others are nocturnal in nature.

You can use your time track to monitor how well you do with tasks during different hours of the day. Once you see a pattern pointing to a specific time period, reserve them for your most challenging tasks.

6.  Prioritize Your Tasks

Even with a defined work schedule and a to-do list, you can end up toiling for hours without achieving anything meaningful. Well, that’s because you may be prioritizing your tasks wrong.

You can start prioritizing properly by listing out all your tasks for the day and identifying those that are important and urgent. You should also identify those that are not related to your project.

There are different methods you can use to achieve optimized task prioritization. Let’s walk you through them.

A Note on Urgent and Important Tasks

Important tasks are those tasks critical to your project. Not doing them could result in negative consequences.

Urgent tasks, on the other hand, are time-sensitive. However, they may or may not be important. For example, a colleague may require urgent help with something unrelated to your project or work. Since you have to help in the spirit of teamwork, you need to add it to your schedule.

The 4D System and the Eisenhower Matrix

The 4Ds of time management helps you categorize your tasks according to priority so you don’t do the right thing at the wrong time and vice versa.

The Eisehower matrix, which is attributed to former US president Dwight Eisenhower, tells you how and when to handle each task based on their priority level.

While the 4D system lists out different categories and what to do with them, the Eisenhower matrix works with a quadrant format.

These categories include:

  • Do: Tasks that are important and urgent
  • Defer (schedule): Tasks that are important but not urgent
  • Delegate: Tasks that are urgent but not important and can be handled by someone else
  • Delete: Tasks that are not urgent or important

Consider the Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle states that 20% of causes trigger 80% of outcomes. The principle, which was designed in 1896 by Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, is also called the law of the vital few, and the 80/20 rule.

Essentially, you can identify 20% of your tasks for your day that will make the most impact and focus on them. These are tasks that, once executed, will make your day successful.

Leverage the Eat the Frog Method

The Eat the Frog technique is another task prioritization method that encourages you to tackle (eat) your most tedious task for the day (the frog) before doing anything else.

Even if you end up identifying multiple frogs on your to-do list, determine which one is the biggest and do it first. This way, you’ll have less tasking jobs to handle the rest of the day.

7.  Learn to Delegate and Outsource

Delegation and outsourcing can save you stress and open up your schedule. There are tasks that take up the time you need to handle more important things. These are tasks that are not entirely related to your core project and don’t require your specific skills to execute.

That said, you still have to delegate important tasks from time to time, especially when they’re time sensitive and you can’t handle them all. So, it’s critical that you find the right set of hands to assist you.

Delegating a task is a skill that you have to take your time to build because managing people and trusting them can be challenging. So, ensure you take the right steps to identify the right talent for the task and manage them.

Using the 70% Rule

The 70% rule states that if the party you intend delegating the task to can execute it 70% as well as you can, you can pass it off to them. So, evaluate whoever you want to delegate or outsource to determine they’re the right fit for the job.

8.  Track Your Productivity

Tracking your productivity allows you to discover where you’re struggling and excelling. You can use time trackers and project management tools to monitor your work behavior and how efficient and fast you are when handling specific tasks.

This way, you know what to replicate and what to discard.

9.  Take Breaks

Working long hours without end can cause overwork and burnout, reducing your capacity to execute tasks long-term. Burnout can also be detrimental to your health. The World Health Organization reports that more than 170,000 people died from heart-related diseases in 2016 that can be attributed to long working hours.

So, ensure you add break times to your schedule and make sure you respect them no matter what.

10. Leverage the Right Tools

Apart from time trackers, there are other tools that can make your freelancing career easier. These include project management, communication, file-sharing, and email platforms.

Project management solutions will help you streamline your workflow and organize your tasks and projects.

Communication tools will ensure your on-going communications with clients are optimized.

With file-sharing tools, you can collaborate with clients by sharing and editing files and documents in real-time.

Email management solutions will help you organize your email lists and ensure you don’t waste time on non-important emails that hurt your productivity.

Wrapping Up

Your freelancing career’s survival and success depend on your level of productivity. So ensure you leverage the right tools, manage your time, avoid multitasking and distractions, and prioritize your tasks appropriately.

Huynh Nguyen

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