5 Ways to Boost Productivity as a Freelancer

By Nidhi Parekh of The Shared Microscope

COVID-19 has affected our daily productivity. It can be difficult to remain motivated in a seemingly depressing world afflicted by a disease which has no cure. As a result, remaining focused can be a challenge. Faced with yet another day of working from home (or living from work, depending on your perspective), it can be difficult to mobilize your energies and get in the right frame of mind to get work done. As CoAdvantage writes, “Everyone is laboring under high-stress, low-control conditions that erode focus and motivation.”

I like to think of COVID-19 as a marathon.  In a marathon, you don’t use all of your resources early on, but remain strategic and have a more measured approach because you are in it for the long haul. 

Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint. We are all in it for the long haul. @TheSharedScope

Because I know that we will be tackling the challenges of the novel coronavirus for the next few months, I am choosing to work strategically — smarter, not harder. Overworking is not an option in the marathon that is COVID-19 because that will lead to burnout.  Empathy — for myself, and for others — is key to surviving the pandemic.

You should not overwork yourself in a pandemic.  Instead, consider working strategically so that you work less, but are more effective.  Here are a few easy ways to prioritize your daily tasks in order to be more productive.

1. Say “no” more to be able to say “yes” to the right projects.

In freelancing, it’s a good idea to go with your gut.  An important part of freelancing is the ability to say “no” to clients who are not willing to pay you your worth, or are overly demanding, or you perceive could be difficult to work with.  Not all clients are a great fit for you, and that’s okay.  Just make sure you can say “no” to the projects/people that just don’t feel right.

2. Eliminate distractions.

It can be tempting to hop onto news websites or Facebook and complain about everything happening in the world, but doing so takes away precious time and energy that you could be using to get work done.  One way to get more work done is to use the Pomodoro method — this involves setting a timer for 20-30 minutes and working in short sprints.  If you need a timer to work with, try this one here.  I don’t personally use the Pomodoro method myself, but I work on a netbook that only has the bare essentials I need to get work done.  You can also invest a couple dollars in certain smartphone and desktop applications that enhance your productivity. Here is a list of 10 apps you can use to help focus and also block out any distractions.

3. Start a ritual.

I try to maintain habits that are amenable to work and get me in work mode like drinking a cup of coffee every morning.  Consider maintaining a schedule and even try time blocking. Whichever strategy you decide on, consistency is key.

4. “Network” on LinkedIn or Twitter.  

Sometimes, work does not feel like working, and that’s the best kind of work to be doing amid a pandemic. Connecting with other freelancers on LinkedIn or Twitter to talk about best practices for freelancers or to make connections is one of those types of work, and it can be fruitful in terms of new work and new collaborations.

5. Figure out what you can outsource and what you can do yourself.

As a freelancer, your time is money. One particularly time-consuming aspect of freelancing is the financial aspect. If it’s weighing you down and you need the extra time spent accounting to work on other things, consider hiring an accountant. If you’re trying to build a blog presence but are too busy with writing for your well-paying clients, it may be a good idea to hire a freelancer to take care of your blog content.

Humans are not designed to thrive in conditions of high stress and uncertainty — but we will make it through #COVID19 via self-care and avoiding burnout. @TheSharedScope

It’s important to be kind to yourself in the COVID-19 pandemic. Humans are not designed to thrive in conditions of high stress and uncertainty, but we will be able to make it through this ordeal with self-care and an eye to avoiding burnout. Soon enough, we will all be back to a “new normal” in which we miss the productivity of the pandemic, when we all worked from home and lived from work.

Nidhi Parekh blogs at The Shared Microscope. Check out The Shared Microscope on Twitter,  Facebook, or Instagram for more informative illustrations and blog posts on different scientific concepts.

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