5 Top-Notch Productivity Tips for the Freelancer

September 2, 2013

freelanceFreelancing is a great way to make a little extra money on the side, and sometimes it turns into a full-time business. Many first-time freelancers get overwhelmed by all the tasks they didn’t see coming when they first started. When I first started building my business, I had to learn productivity techniques along the way. I read books such as Getting Things Done by David Allen and Zen To Done by Leo Babauta. I also picked up some best practices through experience. Here are some productivity tips that have helped me, and I hope they help you too.

1. Set aside some time to “be the boss.”

Managing yourself is one of the biggest challenges of being a freelancer. If you’re accustomed to being an employee, switching to “boss mode” isn’t always easy, but it’s certainly necessary.

Pick a day out of your week or month to assign yourself tasks. Think like a boss, telling your employee (you, in this case) what you need to focus on. Write out some tasks on a calendar and make sure you set goals.

If you don’t set aside time to act as your own boss, you might find yourself working hard but not accomplishing anything really useful. Thankfully, I’m the type of person that’s pretty hard on myself, so “being the boss” has worked out well for me. But if you struggle in this area, seek accountability.

2. Delegate tasks that you shouldn’t be doing.

Entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones that should be delegating tasks – freelancers need to as well. Focus on those tasks that you excel at, and hire others to do those things that take up too much time. You’ll find that when you pay attention to your craft, your business will remain healthy. People don’t hire you because you’re good at business accounting (unless you’re taking care of the books for their business, of course), they hire you to get a job done. Work in your area of expertise and passion, and leave the mundane tasks to those who like to do them.

3. Focus on serving your very best customers.

The Four-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss encouraged business owners to think carefully about what products and services they provide. If 20% of your customers are providing 80% of the revenue, ask yourself how you can cater better to that 20%. Don’t neglect the 80% of your customers, live up to the promises you made to them, but begin to transition your offerings to best serve those who are putting food on your table.

4. Learn to say “no.”

We all get emails from people who want to do this or that, and if we accept every “opportunity,” we won’t get much important stuff accomplished. I’ve learned that I have to say no to those things that distract from the most important things.

Instead of accepting every so-called opportunity, ask yourself if accepting these opportunities is really worth your time. Look for the right opportunities, don’t settle for less. This is a subjective process, but one freelancers can learn with time.

5. Collect tasks outside your brain.

Getting Things Done by David Allen points out the importance of collecting tasks by writing them down or typing them out. I’ve been using Todoist to keep track of everything I have to do, and best of all, it syncs with my phone. Wherever I’m at, if an idea hits me, I have a place to store it.

If you don’t have a to-do list, I encourage you to make one. Keeping new ideas and tasks in your head doesn’t always work out too well, and you might find yourself forgetting important information.

Being a freelancer is an exciting way to do work. I hope you will take at least a couple of these tips and put them into practice. Let me know how it goes for you!

Bob is a full-time blogger who writes about personal finance and online business. You can find more from him at Christian Personal Finance.

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