Working Efficiently as a Freelancer

19.04.2018 |

Episode #5 of the course How to freelance like a pro by Paul Jarvis and Kaleigh Moore


Hey! Welcome back.

Let’s talk about productivity.

Productivity is not about finding the right app or website blocker tool, it’s about setting up the right systems and processes to be more efficient.

Our big goal around productivity is to find out how we can make the most of our time.

If we can make the same amount of money in fewer hours, then we’re technically earning more: We either take on more work or have the choice to not work as much and make the same amount (which is worth a lot).

Let’s look at four different ways you can increase your productivity as a freelancer.

1. Figure out how much time you have for core work each day.

Everyone’s lives are different, so keep track of how much time is required for family and life commitments, meetings, other work (if you aren’t full time), running your business, etc.

Track your time over the course of a week or so to find out how much time you truly devote to different work/life activities. (Your assumptions might be off.) You’ll probably be left with three to five hours where you can focus on your core work.

2. Notice when your energy and attention are the greatest.

Are you a morning person, a night owl, or a mid-day monster? Whenever you’re the most tuned in, block that time off to do your core work. That means: no distractions or interruptions.

It also means that if you’ve got a few hours to do the work, you’ll do several “sprints” of work, with several breaks in between.

Add these blocks of time for core work to your schedule or calendar (because things that don’t get scheduled, don’t get done). Make sure you stick to this plan unless it’s completely not working (then revise). It really does mean that no client calls, no emails, no ANYTHING but work happens during these time slots.

3. Determine the most important task.

What’s the single most important task you have to do today? Focus on that, and only move onto anything else when it’s done. Do it no matter what and feel accomplished when it’s finished.

Make sure it’s achievable in the amount of time you’ve got. Otherwise, break it down into a smaller task or group of tasks. If you can’t accomplish a task in a single period, it’s too big, which can lead to stress or overwhelm (like adding “write a book” to your to-do list).

Schedule the hardest tasks first, as they require the most concentration and energy.

Have a “reward” for the end of your focused work period, like a nice snack or a coffee or anything that makes you feel good. Make sure the reward relaxes you, even if it’s for five minutes.

4. Determine what you can ritualize.

Rituals work because we can focus on what we need to do, not how or when we need to do it. By creating set rituals (processes) for every client project, we don’t have to worry or think about what’s next, what’s still left to do, or what’s missing. We stick to the process and focus on the work at hand.

Think broadly: Even things like having a “deep work playlist” that you only put on when you’re doing your core work can help ritualize getting into the flow of work. (Only listen to it when you’re doing deep work.) The same thing goes for what you wear, where you work, etc.

Remember that being busy isn’t a badge of honor. You work for yourself so you can have more control over your day and your time, not less. Flexibility is one of freelancing’s biggest perks—so don’t forget to take advantage of it.

“Productivity has nothing to do with how much you do, and everything to do with how much you accomplish.” —Chris Bailey, author and experimental productivity expert

That’s all for now. Next time, we’ll go over how to deliver drafts to get a positive feedback from a client.

Happy freelancing,

Kaleigh and Paul


Recommended reading

What’s the Point of Productivity?


Recommended book

Stop Thinking Like a Freelancer: The Evolution of a $1M Web Designer by Liam Veitch


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