I have some bad and some good news. Unfortunately, the bad news is that once you start taking freelance clients, it’s not going to automatically get easier for you get to work.
Okay, we know that sometimes you’ll get into a groove and feel totally plugged in. Some days you feel like you can accomplish anything. Those days are truly magical!
But there are just as many days when you’re tempted to watch cat videos online and change your profile pic a dozen times.
There is some good news, though. There are tactics you can put in place to help you focus and get down to work.
Here are some of my best tools to increase your productivity and get your work done.
1. Create Your Own Deadline
Everyone knows that deadlines help you get the work done, and you’ll certainly get one from your client.
But just because the client needs something done by the end of day Wednesday doesn’t mean that’s when you need to finish. Freelancing often means juggling different projects and different clients with different deadlines. So, you may need to set a shorter deadline for yourself that means finishing the work early.
Set a hard-and-fast deadline that you can’t miss. Book your time for something you need to get done for after your deadline so you won’t let it slide. Make a doctor’s appointment for 3:00 p.m. and set your self-imposed deadline for 2:00 p.m. If you attach your deadline to an external event like an appointment, it will be easier for you to enforce it.
2. Set a Timer
If you’re working and find yourself unable to focus, type “timer” into your Google search bar. This is a free timer with a short deadline that can help you power through a small portion of your day.
Try this tactic: Put your phone in another room, sit down at your computer, set your timer for 20 minutes, and get to work. Were you successful? If not, did you need more time? Or were you distracted by something else? Be honest with yourself so you can fine-tune your focus.
3. Work at Your Peak Time
Everybody have their own preferred times of day to work. You may be a morning person or someone who operates full-steam-ahead post-lunch. Why is that? Because every body is different. Everyone has their own rhythms that feel right to them.
What time of the day do you feel the freshest? If it’s the morning, you may want to do some of your “harder” work then—the work that requires more brainpower. If you find yourself in a slump in the afternoon, use this time to get more of your admin tasks done like invoicing, responding to simple emails, scheduling meetings, etc.
4. Change Your Scenery
You’ve probably discovered this already but, for some reason, people often find it hard to stay focused staring at the same four walls. Try mixing up your locale. Visit your library, local coffee shop, or even a park bench to freshen up your scenery and refocus.
If you happen to be working in an office, try booking a conference room or working in the cafeteria for a half-hour. I’m sure you’ve seen other co-workers doing the same thing.
5. Go for a Walk
If you have a little leeway in your deadline and you’re finding yourself distracted, step away from your work for a bit. I’m not saying you should log out of your computer altogether and take a three-hour nap, but a 10-minute walk (where it’s outside or even around the office building) will get the blood—and energy—flowing.
Let your brain rest for a short time and it will “reboot” and let you get back to work refreshed.
There are lots of apps out there that you can listen to when you need a short break. I highly recommend meditating for just 10 minutes to power down your break and recharge it.
Want some more tips on productivity? Discover the best daily schedule for freelancers, this productivity tip, and tactics specifically for work-from-home freelancers.
What are your favorite tactics to improve your focus? Let me know in the comments below!