Time is Money, or Important Things Every Freelancer Must Know
Perhaps I will start with a few sad facts about freelance. Unfortunately, most of the beginning freelancers tend at first not to think about the negative aspects of this type of activity. Depending on the type of your work and skill in finding new customers and partners, the list of unpleasant features may undergo changes. This may be a banal uncertainty about tomorrow, lack of stability, the need to “shoot back” on several fronts (to the list of responsibilities of each freelancer are the search for people, promoting their business, conducting correspondence, etc.), as well as dishonest clients and partners. By the way, be very careful with freelance exchanges - even large market players can turn out to be typical crooks, a vivid example of which is the Australian order search service freelancer.com (Do not believe me? Google knows everything).
But for many, the most basic difficulty of freelancing is its most banal aspect - the need to plan your own time. I hope that these few simple rules, formed both from the experience of other “experienced” freelancers and from my own, can help you work less and more efficiently. So, I present to you the habits useful in work:
First habit: Stop checking mail for no light!
You yourself are well aware that what your morning was like affects productivity throughout the entire working day. Surely you noticed many times: if you happened to get up “from that foot” (which includes many factors), then you are energized for the whole day, and the desire to turn mountains, as a rule, is a bonus.
But what do we do in the morning? The vast majority of us, just opening our eyes, first of all begins to check the read. This is the scourge of the information era, which has hit almost all of humanity following modern technology. Without noticing it, we spend the most productive morning hours writing answers to our clients, partners, potential clients, friends, etc. Checking mail can entail viewing news feeds, reading articles and blogs, and also freezing in social networks.
And what do we have in the end? If in the evening you planned to do something “early in the morning”, then this certainly will not work, but worst of all - you are wasting precious time that you had to devote to your projects for the benefit of productive work. And to everything else, you run the risk of earning another unpleasant bonus: if you happen to get negative while checking your own mail or reading something on the Internet, then it is likely that you will carry such a mood through your whole day or most of it. So stop checking your mail just waking up!
Second habit: do the most important thing in the morning
Business before pleasure. And it is better to deal with affairs as soon as possible, then more time will be left for fun. As a rule, in the morning your willpower and discipline are much stronger than at other times of the day. Therefore, it makes sense to work on all the most important projects for you in the morning. Allocate an hour or two of “inviolable” time to them. Do not forget to notify your clients and partners that you are not available during these hours, and adhere to such a schedule: first of all, you work on the main tasks, and then take up the rest. Of course, you can try to allocate time for this during the working day, say, after lunch, but then there is a much greater likelihood that by this moment you will have a lot of urgent tasks that will not allow you to do what is really important.
It would be nice to do the most laborious and nasty work in the morning. If there is something that you don’t feel like taking at all, hold on to your heart and take up this first. As the English-speaking seasoned guys say, having easily changed the standard GTD motto, get the shit done! Such tactics will allow you to work calmly with a light heart for the rest of the day, without thinking about the unpleasant task that is hanging over you and preparing for an attack.
Third habit: Do not sit constantly in mail and social media
Let's think about how often we check mail during the working day. Yes, constantly! We open Gmail all the time or worse - we don’t close it in principle. This continually distracts our attention from work and negatively affects productivity. In addition, frequent mail scans increase stress levels. Social media is generally one of the best ways to kill time (productive time!) When it is not needed at all.
If you do not want to earn stress out of the blue and advocate for increasing the efficiency of your work, then try the following: set a schedule for checking mail and messages from social networks (if the latter are related to your work). At the same time, do not forget to take the time to write the answers. And if you have a few minutes left, then consider this a pleasant bonus. Believe me, even such a trifle as the consciousness that you did your job a little earlier can bring you a sense of satisfaction and have a beneficial effect on your subsequent work.
The frequency of checking mail is an individual matter. Think about your customers and partners. What is the acceptable waiting time for them? What waiting time does not hurt your reputation? If this, for example, is two hours, then with an eight-hour work schedule, you should go to the mail no more than 2-3 times a day (do not forget about the “untouchable” morning time). You must admit that this is probably significantly different from what you are doing today. In addition, having received a heap of messages, you will deal with them faster than with each one alone - this is also a good saving of effort and time.
Fourth habit: Do not rely on willpower - use special applications and services
Use applications that will not allow you to check mail and social media while you work. For Firefox users, this can be, for example, LeechBlock, for Chrome, StayFocusd. Lovers of apple products in this matter will help a program with the speaking name SelfControl. All such applications are easy to use: they block the sites you have selected for the set length of time, preventing your unconscious procrastination and loss of concentration.
Google Calendar, Fantastical, or other calendaring services can help you build your schedule. If you have problems with motivation and achieving goals, then the SmaptProgress service will help not only to identify the main priorities, but also achieve the desired result in an unusual, somewhat playful way.
Utilities for organizing breaks during working hours (for example, I use Workrave) will brighten up your work with pop-ups, a screen lock and the opposite sounds if you do not follow the rest schedule.
Fifth habit: Plan your rest time during the working day.
One of the main advantages of freelance is the ability to combine relaxation and work. But this must be done wisely. Each of us has our own usual rhythm of relaxation and work. And it is not necessary that he will bring us to good. If, for example, a person is accustomed, without raising his head, to work for ten hours in a row (even on his favorite project), then sooner or later it will affect his health, and no drive here will help.
Therefore, take small breaks every hour - special programs will help you with this, which, according to the schedule you set, will block the screen of your monitor at a specified time. For me, the best thing for a good productive work is a change of scenery. But if you don’t have the opportunity to go to work at your favorite coffee shop (as I have now, in general), then you can go for a short walk - fresh air works wonders with our heads.
The famous writer Joan Rowling also loves to change the work environment. The result is obvious!
And here we may encounter another problem - rest and work become so mixed that in the evening we simply do not have free time, because the breaks were too long and too frequent. So we create a stressful situation for ourselves, which could easily be avoided. Here is the time to return to the previous point for a second - do not rely on willpower and your other wonderful qualities. Make a schedule and stick to it, use applications that make your life easier.
And remember, if you are distracted during work, this can not be called a rest - at least, our body and brain can not perceive something like this in this way. Therefore, you should not refuse another break just because you were unexpectedly torn from the project again (demons!).
Sixth habit: Drive more
I remember that my mother always called me a calm child, but I still have not been able to sit in one place for more than half an hour. From such a "long" stay in one position, not only boredom begins to overcome me, but the "song of the body" persistently convinces me to run away from behind a computer. Feet shout: “Let's dance!”
Therefore, I have in my sleeve several trump cards in store, but tricks that allow me to fight this scourge. Firstly, it is an orbitrek (elliptical trainer) in the corner of my office, which is always ready to help. By the way, if you study foreign languages or take some kind of video courses, you can combine jogging with video or audio lessons. Another trick - I often work while standing. Since I have not yet acquired a special table for working, I had to come up with a less cumbersome economy option: a small table from IKEA saves the situation. I put it on top of the desktop, then put the laptop down. Voila! Cheap and cheerful, but it works. Thirdly, as an alternative to the chair, you can use balls for fitness - you yourself will not notice how your posture improves, you will be less tired.
Movement is life (everyone knows about it). But we must not forget that due to physical activity, the pulse increases and blood is better distributed throughout the body - by supplying blood to the brain, we supply it with oxygen. So, if you are exhausted, try to play with the ball for a couple of minutes, run, squat. In general, along with mental activity, do not forget to work with your feet - your brains will be grateful.
Seventh habit: Plan tasks, not time
Research conducted a century ago, helped Henry Ford to deduce the golden formula, according to which a person should work no more than 40 hours a week. And you are no exception! Paradoxically, but if you increase one and a half times the working time per week, that in the long run it will not play into your hands. Within a couple of months, your productivity will drop by more than one and a half times. So what are the sacrifices, I ask you? Therefore, plan your work so that it does not go beyond 40 hours a week. This is the first thing to remember.
Secondly, try not to be guided by the approach “I need to work 8 hours from 7 to 15”, but tell yourself: “I need to complete the following tasks today, and as soon as possible.” Such a statement of the question will help you avoid procrastination. In addition, the work can inflate in size, taking just as much time as you take to it. So it’s better to plan the sequence of tasks, not allocating for each specific period of time. Let your motivation be the fact that as a reward for your quick work, you will get extra hours of relaxation in the evening.
All this should help you not only work more productively, but also effectively relax. Try to follow these rules for at least a week and write in the comments about your successes. Believe me, no matter how common these ideas are, they can significantly help you on the road to success. Good luck