Freelancers accumulate a lot of things and habits that get in the way of their work. Sure we meet deadlines and get things done but our productivity suffers.
At the end of the day, we’re left scratching our head wondering where the day went. We end up working nights to meet a deadline that should have been met ahead of schedule if things had gone according to plan.
Here are 7 Things You As A Freelancer Need To Ditch in order to find the kind of success you’re looking for in your business.
1. Excessive Social Networking, Instant Messaging And Internet Browsing
This has been written and told so many times that you’d think it would be engraved in people’s head by now. Even if you’re super careful and watch your time, social networking and browsing have a habit of sneaking up on you and making you ignore the clock.
Stop Stumbling, Digging, or going through your RSS reader for an unscheduled period of time. If there’s work on your desk that’s being ignored in favor of it then you’re wasting time and momentum.
2. Email Obsession
Ah yes. We all have the email bug. Here’s how you ditch the habit.
- Turn off the notification sound
- Shut off your inbox
- Check every two hours or any (reasonable) time period of your choice.
- Rinse and repeat
You could also check email as a reward. Completed an article? Check email. Met a deadline? Omg, I so deserve to check my email now!
Yes you’ll go crazy, but your work will thank you for it!. Think of the happy clients and stress free pace of work as you’re free from the anxiety of having things added to your to-do list with every email.
3. The “Yes, Right Away” Attitude
A quick clarification: I’m not asking you to ditch the “Yes, I can” attitude. What kind of a freelancer would I be if I told you to ditch the secret behind your success? I’m telling you to ditch the “Yes, right away” attitude. There’s a difference.
As freelancers and web workers, we tend to think that if we don’t act immediately, we’ll lose out. That’s the wrong attitude. Not everything requires your immediate attention.
Make the distinction between clients who’ll appreciate and reward the quick response and those to whom it wouldn’t make a difference if you replied a few hours later or the next day.
If you’re replying to emails as they come in your inbox, you’ll spend your entire day dealing with them and get no work done. Ever wondered where your day went when you haven’t taken a break all morning?
Nine times out of ten, your day went to your inbox.
4. Information Overload
Sometimes I think ‘freelancer‘ is a synonym for ‘continuous learning‘. We read or at least scan everything that comes in front of our eyes, we bookmark religiously, download e-books like we’re obsessed and research is our middle name.
All this leads to information overload.
I’ll be the first to say that we never know when we’ll need something. However, short circuiting our brain trying to cram everything ruins our work. Not to mention the headache it brings on.
That desk of yours? It has to be cleaned. Your papers need to be filed, pens need to be set in their holder and you need to pick up the trash. Even your desktop needs to be organized.
And no, dumping everything in your drawer is not called de-cluttering.
Very few people thrive in clutter. Organized chaos is fine but the minute you spend more than 15 seconds looking for something, it’s not organized anymore.
So ditch the clutter and organize.
Distractions come in many forms. Every freelancer has their own set of distractions. It could be unnecessary phone calls, the neighbor’s noisy dog or even your own children.
Respect your work time and figure out ways to eliminate these distractions. Get a baby sitter for your kids or get them involved in extra-curricular activities. Dealing with your neighbor’s dog could be easy or you may have to be a little uhh… innovative.
Whatever your distractions, they can be eliminated. Turn the force of your “can do” attitude on your distractions and watch them melt away.
Moderation is the name of the game. Don’t waste your time getting distracted or procrastinating but don’t become obsessed with productivity either.
Set goals and meet them. That’s the definition of a successful and productive day. If you don’t meet them every now and then, it’s ok. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to fail.