Why hours worked doesn’t always correlate with productivity…
In the UK today, there are over 1.4 million freelance workers whose jobs often range from article, copy, creative and content writing to Graphic Design and HTML. This is a 14% rise in the British public that work either completely or partially from their homes and an added £21 billion in revenue to the economy due to the flexibility of being a freelancer.
There is little doubt then that being a freelancer is becoming ever more fashionable as more and more of us ditch the suit and tie in favor of staying in our pajamas and opt for the living room sofa instead of the busy work office. Whilst it can be great not to have your boss peering over your shoulder all day and to have the option to pick up the kids from school… there are downsides.
On the flipside, not having your boss at hand to offer advice / set targets can be frustrating and communicating through email is never quite the same. Being able to do the little tasks such as fetching the kids / walking the dog etc. can often be tempting and can break up work patterns. Contrary to popular belief, Freelancers will often work much harder and have to be much smarter in the way that they work than people working in-house.
When you start out money can be tight and surviving from month to month can rely heavily on the amount / quality of work you do. There is a lot of stress on freelancers that can be easily avoided by following these simple time and money saving tips:
You may think that this is the most obvious technique you can employ to increase productivity but the amount of people who fail to set themselves realistic and achievable targets is incredible. Although it’s not always realistic to make plans when you are busy, it’s important that you at least attempt to plan a day or week in advance. It’s well known that people work better on tasks they enjoy or when they are relaxed as opposed to tasks that they are in a hurry to complete.
2. Eat the Frog!
No, we’re not suggesting that consuming an amphibian will help you save time and ultimately money but we are referencing an old business phrase. Eating the frog refers to tackling the hardest job you have to do at the start of the day and allowing yourself the rest of the day to complete the more menial tasks. The sense of achievement and relief you get when you complete your hardest job early on should see your motivation and productivity soar. Alternatively, if you’re not a morning person, trying switching it around. It’s all about personal preference.
3. Create a Routine
Carrying on from the previous point, try creating a routine that suits your behavioral patterns. Organise breaks when you begin to flag and try to keep a set pattern over the working week. Figuring out when you are best at each daily task is vital in maximizing your output. Don’t force work when you clearly aren’t in the right frame of mind. That’s why you became a freelance in the first place! So you can pick and choose.
4. Remove Distractions
You know exactly what we’re talking about. Social media, texting, TV, magazines. The list of distracting options at home is endless. Now we’re not saying that you should cut them out completely but setting time aside for each is vital. If your job involves social media then this can be harder so try setting your personal profiles apart from your professional ones. Ever tallied up how many minutes or hours you spend creating and responding to emails as well? Unless it’s highly important then try to only check emails once in the morning and in once the afternoon.
5. Optimise Your Workstation
Just because you’re at home it doesn’t mean that you can’t create a comforting and efficient workstation. Aside from removing obvious distractions such as gadgets and noise, (and the family!), you need to make sure your workplace is not only comfy but healthy for you too. Invest in an ergonomic chair/keyboard and make sure your room is well lit and ventilated.
6. Keep Healthy
Keeping healthy is scientifically proven to help you work smarter, and for longer. As a freelancer the world is your oyster and you have no excuse not to do at least a bit of walking each day. Nipping out to the shops for a bit of fresh air and a brisk walk can clear your head and give you time to think about other ways you can improve your work.
As I mentioned before, communicating over email can be time consuming and sometimes the message gets lost in translation. Whilst not being in the office at all times can have its downsides and travelling can kill your working productivity, there are alternatives you can utilise. Apart from a simple telephone call you can also make use of software applications such as Skype, which allows you to make free video calls, and Dropbox, which allows you to share documents with your colleagues in real time.
8. Telephone Answering Service
As every freelancer will know, dealing with clients, tele-sales people, prospects and the other half can be near on impossible by yourself; especially if you’re expecting to work at maximum efficiency. Here is why freelancers love Virtual Assistants and are increasingly using Telephone Answering Services:
- Never miss a call
- Take all messages and retain potential customers
- Get on with your job
- Provide a strong brand image
- Save money
It’s pretty easy to see why telephone answering services are becoming more popular with freelancers and small business alike.
9. Reward Yourself
Completed that report in a record time? Really nailed a piece of content that you’re very proud of? Then reward yourself. Rewards can vary from meeting up with friends to buying yourself something you’ve wanted for a while. This can incentivise the work process and improve motivation whilst simultaneously refraining yourself from accessing the ‘treat’ whilst you’re in the middle of working.
There are a lot of interesting time and money saving ideas out there for office workers. Although some of them will crossover for freelancers, they can be much harder to implement when you are in charge of your own work strategy. Everything comes down to personal preference and discipline. Master these to unlock your full potential.