Flexible schedule, location independence, and the flexibility to work by your own set of rules? Yes, please!
Being a freelancer comes with plenty of advantages, especially if you can discipline yourself with effective organizational skills.
But, let’s be realistic…
Freelancing is not as easy as it sounds. And unless you’re some productivity guru, you probably end up finishing your day wondering where all that time went.
The fact is, can easily get bumpy if you aren’t maintaining an A-level work performance, especially if you work remotely.
Now, there’s no productivity pill or hack that’ll skyrocket your performance. But you can and should experiment with different strategies until you find one that works for you.
So let’s dive in.
My 3-step process to improve work performance
- Step 1: Analyze and find what you want to improve on
- Step 2: Adopt relevant strategies but keep your goals in check
- Step 3: Review progress and adapt accordingly
The more specific you get with your goals, the more obvious the inefficiencies in your work performance will become. For example, you may find that you need to improve on your time management or organization.
Here are a few ways to track your performance:
- Implement trackers to track key metrics such as time, efficiency, effectiveness, etc.
- Next, carry on work and document your performance (for at least 2 weeks)
- Finally, evaluate performance and how well you are using your time.
Once you’ve audited performance, you have to reverse engineer your gaps. For example, if you find you’re easily distracted by social media, install blockers to carry out work without any distractions.
Ensuring you’re still on track is crucial and so, setting yourself a regular personal review will help you determine which strategies are working, which are not, and help you optimize for better results.
Here are a few ways to go about conducting personal reviews:
- Schedule a regular evaluation block in your calendar
- Create progress spreadsheets to track and review regularly
- Adjust your strategies to continually improve and grow
I’ve broken down this process in detail in my other article on improving work performance..
Adopting the right time management techniques will help you get further without burning out.
Here are two techniques that have worked well for me:
- Eisenhower’s Matrix: to provide a sense of direction.
- Pomodoro: improves attention span and concentration.
The methodology behind this technique is simple. You prioritize your tasks from the most urgent and important to the least.
The Pomodoro approach is used when splitting large tasks into smaller, more realistic ones. Breaking these tasks into short, timed intervals (a.k.a pomodoros) trains your brain to focus better.
By increasing your concentration you will become more efficient, while successfully avoiding stress and anxiety. For instance, Marjiana Kay, SaaS content Writer, combines time management techniques with trackers to keep boost her productivity.
She shares, “My biggest progress in productivity as a freelancer over the last year came from a simple change: I do all of my work in 25-minute Pomodoros. I know that many people are already familiar with the Pomodoro technique, but I've added a twist that made all the difference: for every Pomodoro, I start a time tracker (I use Toggl).”
Timing is crucial for freelancers and setting a specific time for each task will improve work performance immediately as you’re more focused
Furthermore, she added, “In practice, this has helped me know exactly what I've worked on each day, how much progress I've made, and to increase my rates once I saw how much my efficiency improved! “
Don’t stop here. Read more about different time management techniques in my guide.
Forget multitasking and try monotasking:
It's not uncommon to fight multiple deadlines, juggle different projects, and sometimes end your day feeling like you’ve gone nowhere.
As Steve Uzzell says in The One Thing, “Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.” So what's the solution?
Stop multitasking. Instead, cut down and simplify your work weeks by focusing on just one thing at a time, a.k.a monotasking:
- Use online task boards to split up work weeks into actionable SMART goals and objectives.
- Focus on your top two urgent tasks for each day instead of the important ones.
- Use software blockers to block out interruptions such as emails, social media, etc. for periods that need focused work.
And so, this brings me to the next very crucial strategy for work performance for freelancers.
Schedule for the week, not just the day:
According to a decade-long study on top-performing execs, the #1 thing that separates the best from the rest is the ability to deliver reliably—a.k.a. consistency.
Here's how to go about creating a schedule for your workweek:
- Decide your work hours and track them using cool apps.
- Include regular breaks and eat at the same time every day.
- Finally, be realistic. If you are not a morning person then setting your alarm at 6am to start working at 7 am will never work.
No matter which strategy you decide to implement, it truly won’t matter unless you’re both mentally and physically healthy and fit.
This is a major problem for many freelancers as we spend a lot of time sitting down (sometimes hunched) working on our laptops. Tech life can be quite damaging for your back all the way to your eyes. And with the extra stress and pressure of freelancing, it's easy to neglect self-care over time.
To be more active:
Fit block your schedule: Just like any other goal/task you add to your schedule make fitness be one of them. For example, 30-minutes of yoga every morning.
Fitness membership: Paying a regular monthly gym membership can be motivating and exciting change of scenery.
Hire a fitness coach or find a gym buddy: Find someone who will help you be consistent and motivated to stay fit.
Eat healthy: Junk food will just switch on your lazy mode on. Consuming a healthy, balanced diet will be beneficial for your physical and mental health.
Healthy mind: Stress, anxiety and overwhelming yourself won’t benefit your business in any way and so maintaining a healthy, strong mindset is critical for steady work performances. For example, Hailey Lucas, expert consultant follows a fixed morning routine that helps inform a productive day.
She shares,“My productivity strategy is starting off each morning with a 10-15 minute meditation where I set my intentions for the day and get my mind clear before diving into work. I find that starting off each day with this time for myself helps boost my focus and productivity throughout the day, as well as keeps me in peak mental state. ”
Meditation is well known for improving focus and productivity and so, maintaining a mental state peak by regularly meditating can be a great way to start your day.
Remember, most if not all, of the major health problems common to freelancers who work from home, can be reduced with simple lifestyle changes. Staying mindful and maintaining a healthy lifestyle will have an enormous impact on your work performance within days.
Over to you:
What strategies do you find the most useful and effective for making the most of every day? Were they easy to adopt? Let us know!