When you ask a freelancer, what motivated them to become freelance in the first place, 9 times out of 10 they will cite wanting more flexibility in the way they work and control over their own time. The paradox is of course when you become self-employed you will never work as hard or feel as if there are simply not enough hours in the day. The entrepreneur Jim Rohn famously said ‘Either you run the day, or the day runs you! So how can you make sure that you maximise your productivity every day?
Working with your Body Clock
If you are a night time person and are at your most productive after 14:00 don’t force yourself out of bed at 06:00 because you will just be miserable and achieve nothing! I’m an early bird and am useless after 18:00. I’m in a swim club and 2-3 times a week I go swimming at 06:30 which means I’m ready for action by 08:00 and then Ive the whole work day in front of me with the added bonus that I’ve got some exercise in.
Being self-employed requires a lot of discipline especially if you work from home. Every night before I go to bed I make out a list of tasks I have to achieve the next day prioritising the most time-consuming at the top. I tend to put creative tasks such as writing blogs/LinkedIn articles etc. on my list for the afternoon when I’m at my most relaxed. I work in the Finnish school system way where I work in 45mins blocks and then take a break. In this break, I make a cup of tea, go out to water plants, do some stretching but always something away from the screen which gives me a brain nap and allows me time to think. It’s important in planning your day also to leave time for the unforeseen!
The best way not to lose time is to first calculate what you’re spending your time on! As I work for several different clients on different types of tasks, I use Toggl to track my time and I can also run reports from it. Harvest is also very good and integrates with several accountancy and project management tools. Every productivity guru will tell you to turn off social media notifications, so those Facebook messages or latest promotions don’t distract you. Despite rumours to the contrary, we women are not born multi-taskers and multi-tasking is proven to be very inefficient so plan out your day as best as you can and concentrate on one task at a time.
The most frequent problem I come across when helping clients who are time poor is that they are using several different tools, but nothing is integrated. So, they may have a system to track time, another for invoicing, another for storing contacts, another for capturing receipts. Think about the tools are you using, could you swap to use a smart system such as Office 365 or a CRM where you can do everything from one place? If you need advice on this subject, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Think with both sides of your brain
As humans, we tend towards using the right or the left side of our brains, but you can also learn to engage the other. If you are very organised and not creative this is something you can learn and vice versa. I once had a client who said that he didn’t like using a certain project management tool as it didn’t think like he did but maybe sometimes that’s a good thing. We are inundated with apps and tools these days, apps to count steps, apps to control your heating, apps even to apply makeup but my advice is if there are free trails test them out for a while before purchasing. I made a list of time-saving tools earlier this year which you may find useful
You started your own business because you had a fantastic idea and the energy to make it real, didn’t you? so never let yourself get bogged down in the nitty gritty admin and suppress all your creative juices. Allen Baird from Sensei said it very well in his recent article ‘never try to perform every business function yourself’. So, if you are in business and one of your goals is to get rid of your admin pain by 2018, contact me VirtuAli today.