• Advice

Use the 45/15 rule for productive procrastination

Unless you are lucky enough to have a personal management robot (million dollar idea right there guys), you are probably responsible for managing those not-so-fun work/household tasks. One way or another those things have to get done, but when you are a freelancer and so much of your time is already taken up by actual work, those tasks can often get pushed aside.

And anyway, your creative work is more fun right? More mentally stimulating, and not as tedious. One way to combat those tedious work blues is by dividing your hour into 45 minutes of creative work, and 15 minutes for your less fun to-dos.

This technique is a form of productive procrastination, in that you are taking a mental break by doing the things that need doing, but are less fun.

There are a few variations on the 45/15 rule, and you can alter them as you see fit. Some have suggested breaking your hour up into 45 minutes of productivity and 15 minutes of mindless breaktime. For the average time-is-money freelancer though, those 15 minutes might be better spent on mindless, albeit important, tasks.

How to implement the 45/15 rule into your workflow

Begin each day with a list of tasks: Identify your to-dos for the day or week. Try to be as detailed as possible, even with things that seem obvious like doing the dishes, or invoicing a client.

Break your tasks into creative tasks and other to-dos: Once you have identified the things that need doing, sort and prioritize those tasks into the 45 minute and 15 minute segments of each hour. If you don’t get to one of the tasks (and it’s not a must do for the day) you can always shift it to tomorrow’s list.

Set an alarm: While it may seem daunting to work within controlled chunks of time, it is actually kind of refreshing. It takes the guess work out of how long you will be working on a specific task. Productivity and time tracking apps like Focus Booster can be useful, allowing you to set the amount of time for working on specific tasks and visualize your daily productivity.

Repeat as necessary: The great thing about planning your day like this and squeezing in all those mindless work and household to-dos in each hour is that by the end of your day, you will likely have gotten accomplished way more than you had planned. You may even find that after 5-6 hours, you have accomplished all of your tasks for the day and can spend the rest of it relaxing, or getting a jump start on the next day’s tasks.

Freelancers, how do you plan your day? Join our Hive and share your tips!