5 Tips for Staying Productive as a Freelancer

People who decide to become fulltime freelancers often struggle in the beginning with this new way of life. Working at home and making your own work hours seems perfect in theory, but with such a lifestyle come many new obstacles that you have not faced in the past. The amount of distractions that come with this type of job scenario tend to pile up. Therefore, serious changes are needed in order to successfully transition from being someone who is on the clock to an independent worker who only reports to him or herself.

Here are five tips that will help you to make this transition as smooth as possible and guide you along the road towards become a successful freelancer worker, no matter what type of work you have chosen to focus on from the comfort of your own home.

1 – Set Goals

As a freelancer, you no longer have people who are telling you when and how you have to work. You are given deadlines, but you are allowed to take your own path towards meeting them. The fact that you are independent is all the more reason to set goals for yourself and to focus on meeting them. In order to be a successful freelancer, you need to think about the long-term.

Set a goal for your desired and needed income every month and make sure that you always have enough jobs lined up to meet these financial goals. Living from one job to the other creates stress that you don’t need and freelancers who are new to the lifestyle could find themselves in a serious financial predicament if their job offers all of a sudden dry up and they don’t have anywhere else to turn to for money.

Once you have set your financial goals, you need to find a way to meet them. You will also have to analyze them month after month to see whether you need to alter them in any way in order to continue living off freelance work. Setting ambitious goals and challenging yourself to meet them is the best way to ensure that you remain productive over time and also remain financially secure even when you are having a slower month or some jobs fall through.

2 – Manage your Time

When you are at home, the number of distractions that can keep you from working increase tenfold compared to when you were going to the office every day. That is why time management is important. If you are someone who is easily distracted, creating work hours for yourself is an absolute must. Many people who start freelancing tend to lose their work habits and drift into the mindset of not having to work when they do not feel like working.

This leads to long nights of chasing deadlines, huge last-minute workloads, and in the end, a decrease in the quality of your work. Set aside time that will be dedicated to getting work done and set goals for home much work you need to get done within this period of time each day in order to meet your deadlines comfortably and without unnecessary stressors piling up.

Remember, when you are a freelancer, you still have a boss. The only difference is that you are your own boss – so approach giving yourself assignments like you would approach giving them to an employee of yours.

3 – Control Your Working Environment

Your working environment is another important factor that influences the amount of distractions you will have and the amount of work you will be able to get done. If you are someone who can get work done while sitting in a café or a park, or traveling by train or bus, then by all means do it. But not all of us can work that way. Find a place that is conducive to getting your work done and make sure that it is always available to you.

Find a room in your house where you will be free of distractions, and let the people living with you know that when you are in this room, you should not be disturbed. Freelancing gives you freedom, but it is the inability to manage this freedom that leaves a lot of wannabe freelancers stressed out after a couple of months and ready to give up on this type of lifestyle and head back to the cubicle.

4 – Choose Your Jobs Wisely

Since you already have the choice of picking your jobs, take full advantage of that. The more familiar you are with something and the better you are at it, the easier it will be for you to perform this task without any boss breathing down your neck. Remember, most freelancers pick this lifestyle because they were not happy with what they were doing in life previously. If you are still doing things that you hate to do as a freelancer, then you haven’t really made many changes in your career path.

For example, if you are translating as a freelancer, do not take jobs that have to do with a field that you are not familiar with. If you have no previous experience translating heavy-handed legal documentation, do not take these types of job offers. Find your niche and be the best at what you are doing. It is always better to be great at several things than mediocre at everything.

You also need to measure the financial lucrativeness of each job that is offered to you. Do not be quick to snap up every job offer that is sent your way. If you take on a job that pays little and involves a lot of work, it is possible that you can get a much better offer while you are working on this unprofitable job, which you will have to turn down because you do not have time for it because of the prior commitments that you have already made to a low-paying assignment.

5 – Don’t Neglect Your Health

If you are living your life as if you are on vacation every day, you will not be a successful freelancer. Freelancing is a job, it just comes with a new set of rules. Just because you do not have to wake up early every morning to go to work, does not mean that you should be staying up late every night and sleeping in each day.

Your health is important to the quality of your work and your ability to manage your time and set your goals accordingly. You need to make a proper schedule for yourself and your body, and make sure that you maintain healthy sleeping habits so that your work quality does not suffer.

Time management is also a very important part of managing your health, both physical and mental. Give yourself work hours so that you can have time to do other things. If you simply tell yourself that you have to finish something today, you will usually wind up working on that task sporadically throughout the day and end up finishing it at the break of dawn. Make yourself get these tasks done within a given period of time so that you can spend the rest of the day taking care of yourself by eating right, getting some fresh air and exercise, and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule.

It is important to remember that life as a freelancer is not one long paid vacation, it is a new type of job, and one that can be very fulfilling and fruitful once you figure out how to approach it accordingly.

Question: What are your best productivity tips for freelancers?

This guest post is by David Lazar. He is a regular blogger at the PDF Converter blog. With a background in journalism, he specializes in writing blogs on a variety of topics, including freelancing, careers, writing, technology and new media.

Invest just 10 minutes a day toward the right ideas, behaviors and strategies to finally be more productive at work…so you can spend less time there! 31 Days, 31 Ways: Daily Tips for Time Management Mastery is my time management course, containing 31 powerful daily lessons and 31 actionable exercises designed to help you take action, reduce stress, and reclaim your time. Click here to learn more.

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4 thoughts on “5 Tips for Staying Productive as a Freelancer

  1. The biggest productivity tip that I’ve had to learn the hard way is to keep track of all the “busy work” associated with a project, such as Emailing, invoicing, etc. Work to limit that and don’t neglect to factor that into your schedule and your billing appropriately.

  2. I can’t tell you how important it is to “choose your jobs Wisely”. I have been freelancing for 8 years, full-time now and I learnt it the hard way. 

    I only choose to work with clients where I get my creative freedom, my work is respected, and I enjoy doing what I do. That’s sort of a checklist for me.