As freelancers, we often find ourselves wearing all the hats in our businesses. We are often juggling lots of different kinds of tasks and to-dos, and especially when we are wanting to grow and scale our businesses, there seems to be so many things to do and not enough time to do them.
We need to find different ways to be able to get more done, feel less stressed, make more money, and run our creative business with confidence. So I’m going to share my favourite productivity tips for freelance creatives.
Freelancer Productivity Tip #1: Know Your Own Rhythm
My first freelancer productivity tip is the one that tends to be a big surprise for my clients. And that one is number one, know your own rhythm.
What exactly is knowing your own rhythm? Well it means that you need to understand when your creative brain works the most efficiently.
As you may know, freelancers are not your typical 9-5 kind of worker bees who are able to get work done in a set amount of time and be consistent with that time everyday. But oftentimes, creative freelancers can find themselves doing their best work from 10:00 PM until 2:00 AM or sometimes do their best work first thing in the morning. They may even find themselves doing their best work between 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM.
So, get to know your rhythms, your energy, your own creativity and your own flow states. Ask yourself the following questions:
- When is the best time to be doing things that require ideas and innovation?
- When is the best time to be doing something like data entry or tasks that don’t require a lot of focus?
- When is the best time to do something that tends to be challenging, like copywriting or working with numbers?
The answer will be different for everybody and you need to understand yourself. There is no need to try to structure your day around traditional business norms or traditional business standards. You are a freelancer and you do not need to do that.
You can have autonomy over your time and figure out a way to run your life in a way that helps you be as productive as you possibly can.
Freelancer Productivity Tip #2: Set Boundaries Regarding Time, Communication and your Environment
Tip number two for productivity for all freelancers is… to set boundaries. Once you have a good understanding of what your own rhythms are, set some boundaries around it. Protect your flow state, set yourself up for success around that.
What do I mean when I say boundaries? I mean all types. Environmental, communication, and time boundaries.
I previously did a whole video on setting boundaries that covered a lot about how to set boundaries. But the most important thing to understand is once you know your own rhythm, don’t make yourself available for interruptions during the time when you want to be most focused.
Don’t make yourself available for interruptions during the time when you want to be most focused.
Once you know your own rhythm, set those creative brief meetings when you are on fire and you are just revved up, do your best to invite the meetings during that time. Set boundaries so that you can protect your most creative states.
Tip #3: Learn to Prioritize
Next, for tip number three for being productive – learn how to prioritize. When we have these lists of all these things to do, and each of them requires a different hat or a different aspect of a way of approaching them or a different way of thinking, they can all feel like they are equally important. You mind find yourself running around like a chicken with your head cut off going from one task to the next task to the next cast because they all feel so urgent and so important.
Prioritize and distinguish between what is actually urgent and what is important and what might be both urgent and important and what might be neither one of those.
Learning how to prioritize your tasks can take a lot of practice because there are different frameworks for being able to prioritize things – find a method of prioritization that works for you.
This falls back to knowing your own rhythm and trying different ways of setting yourself up for being as productive as possible in your freelance creative business.
However, if there’s one thing to understand about prioritizing, it is this…most prioritizing methodologies help you connect with what’s both urgent and important, and they help you understand why it is important to you.
Why does it matter to you? By understanding something is both a priority and is important to you will help keep you motivated. It will help you desire to take action and be productive. That prioritization piece can have a ripple effect across your ability to get things done.
Tip #4: Plan Your Time
Now that you know your priorities, number four freelancer productivity tip is… to plan your time. Oftentimes, we get really overwhelmed by looking at all the things that we have to do to run a successful business.
One of the ways that you can give yourself more ease, less stress, and in fact even end up doing less work is… to plan your time.
I enjoy time blocking because sometimes I don’t necessarily feel like doing specific tasks or specific things during an amount of time, but it helps knowing I’m going to spend two hours on specific tasks that need to be completed. And then within those two hours I can be wildly creative and I can do whatever kind of marketing that I want to be doing.
I really like time blocks to be able to just know that there’s space in my week for me to actually get the things done on my list. Removing that stress, that anxiety, and that overwhelm is a really great support in being able to get it done.
Just knowing that there’s space in my week for me to actually get the things done on my list removes a lot of the stress.
Tip #5: Track Your Time
Now for freelancer productivity tip number five – track your time. It is a way of staying motivated and staying connected to things that are actually improving and changing and giving you a way to acknowledge the work that you’re doing.
Tracking your time is a tool for being able to celebrate your progress and to reward yourself for doing things even before you get to the end.
I am a huge fan of celebrating and acknowledging progress and one of the ways that you’re able to do that is by tracking your time and tracking your progress in getting through things. My personal favourite way to do this is checking things off a to-do list. And I mean a physical to-do list. There is a different kind of gratification of actually checking things off on a list and looking back at a list that has been fully checked off.
And again, find what works for you. If you are the kind of person who really likes seeing it on a spreadsheet, then make spreadsheets. If you like seeing it in a calendar, then use a calendar. There’s no right way to track your progress. The only wrong way is to not do it at all, to not notice and acknowledge and see how you are progressing along the way.
Everybody’s going to have their own methodology and their own way for being able to access the power of tracking your progress, celebrating your successes and also then seeing where you can improve and what kinds of things you can let go.
Tip #6: Hold Yourself Accountable
Finally, number six in the Six Tips for Freelancer Productivity is Accountability.
When I make a promise to myself and I tell myself I’m going to do x, I check in with myself and see what my level of commitment is. Sometimes it’s like a 3 out of 10, when I feel I should be committed but I’m just not. Other times, my level of commitment can be as high as 8 or a 10 and I’m totally committed. I’m going to be unstoppable. Here I go, it’s going to get done.
And then somehow it still doesn’t get done. And why is that?
I’ve found that for me, things don’t get done if I don’t set myself up for accountability. I tend to let myself down more often than I will let other people down. I’m more likely to break a commitment to myself than I am to break a commitment to other people. For me, accountability really looks like having another person in my life who I ask to hold me accountable for things, and who will let me know when I haven’t completed what I’ve committed to.
I’m more likely to break a commitment to myself than I am to break a commitment to other people.
Accountability can look a whole lot of different ways. One of my favorite things about the Business Accelerator Mastermind community is the way that it creates an experience of accountability without being super rigid or super defined within that community because you’re there every week because you’re sharing your wins and your progress, your obstacles, and your challenges.
Each week, the whole Business Mastermind gets to see how you’re progressing or where you’re stuck. It’s a really wonderful way to reach out with like-minded individuals to talk about your own business goals. Within this community, you can be held gently and embraced in accountability by the community and by the group.
So…how do YOU set yourself up for freelancer productivity?
Let’s recap what we’ve learned today.
- Know yourself and your rhythms
- Set boundaries to protect yourself
- Plan your time
- Track your time
- Hold yourself accountable
If you still find you need help being productive, I can help. Feel free to book a call with me where we can discuss these strategies and tips and get you on the right track to productivity!