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The benefits of the freelance lifestyle are endless and often discussed. Not only can you make your own hours and skip out on that morning commute – saving on gas costs and general aggravation – but you also get to create something of your own instead of working to build someone else’s dream.
Still, the self-employment route is not without its challenges. Because freelancers only get paid when they complete their work on time, poor productivity can cripple a business venture. When you run your own business, your time truly is money, and individuals who don’t maximize their time are unlikely to survive in the industry long term. Here are 6 ways to maximize your productivity when you work for yourself:
1. Limit Internet Time
It’s easy to get distracted when your boss is, well, you. Without a supervisor peering over your shoulder, you might be tempted to spend your working hours checking your Facebook page or reading the latest Google News stories. However, unchecked internet time can be highly problematic for freelancers seeking to boost their productivity levels. Even business-oriented tasks, such as checking email, can interfere with your ability to concentrate on the project at hand. For best results, opt to refresh your inbox just once every hour or two and designate a set period of time for browsing the web or talking with your friends on G-chat.
2. Learn to Delegate
Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you need to handle every business task yourself—or that you should. As a self-employed person, it’s important to turn over certain jobs to your contractors so you can focus on bigger-ticket projects. For example, someone who owns her own marketing business might opt to pay a freelancer to create blogs or post to clients’ social media pages. As a result, she can concentrate on higher-level work, such as creating content plans and pitching new clients.
Additionally, freelancers might need to hire outside labor for jobs outside their comfort range. Don’t hesitate to delegate your money management to an accountant or arrange for a web designer to create your business’ page. Trying to handle these jobs yourself would eat up valuable time you could be spending on your work.
3. Evaluate Your Time Usage
To stay productive as a freelancer, it’s important to assess the amount of time you’re spending on various tasks. While some self-employed people charge by the hour, many earn money based on completed projects. If you originally estimated that a job would take three hours, and it actually required 10, you can’t exactly go back to your client and ask for additional funds. Freelancers therefore need to evaluate their time usage regularly to determine when they need to raise prices and which tasks simply aren’t worth their time. Additionally, time tracking can help you identify problems in your work style and flow.
Fortunately, today’s freelancers have access to various tools and apps that make time tracking easier. A well-ranked product, Harvest helps freelancers make more educated choices about the projects they take. Not only can you track times with a single click, but you can also do so from anywhere, including your mobile phone or laptop.
4. Work in a Designated Area
Although working on your couch might be comfortable, it can also lead to distractions. You might be tempted to turn on the TV, wash that sink of dirty dishes, or even lie down for a nap. To stay productive while self-employed, consider setting aside a specific area of your home for working. If you don’t have a designated office, think about putting a desk in a quiet area of the house, such as a guest bedroom or breakfast nook. The goal is to associate this zone with working so you’ll be better able to concentrate. Additionally, you should ensure your new workspace is comfortable by investing in an ergonomic chair and keyboard and making sure you have access to natural light.
5. Pursue Continuing Education
Just because you run your own business doesn’t mean you know everything about your chosen industry. To stay sharp as a freelancer, consider attending training sessions and continuing education courses. Not only will these training programs allow you to network with your peers, but they will also ensure you stay up to date on the latest developments. Doing this is especially crucial for self-employed people who don’t have coworkers or bosses to keep them abreast of industry changes. As an added bonus, taking classes allows you to enjoy some social time with people who likely share your interests.
6. Clear Your Schedule Now and Then
As a freelancer, you probably know that working hard is essential if you hope to build a successful, sustainable small business. However, it’s also important to allow yourself opportunities for relaxation and leisure. While you might be tempted to work straight through the weekend, doing so can leave you feeling burnt out and unmotivated come Monday morning. For best results, take one to two days off each week to pursue your interests and hobbies. Not only are physical activities like hiking and biking great for clearing the mind, but they also allow you to spend time with family and friends. With any luck, you will start the next workweek recharged and ready to focus on the tasks at hand.
As a self-employed person, you have the ability to set your own schedule while pursuing your passions from the comfort of your own home. However, your freelance career will surely hit a wall if you don’t learn to manage your time effectively. Follow the above tips to ensure your days stay productive and your energy levels high while embarking on a career as a small business owner.
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