Updated: Oct 11, 2019
Whether you're a freelance editor, writer, or photographer, there are certain challenges that come with working for yourself. All of the major responsibilities of running a business now fall on your shoulders—marketing, advertising, bookkeeping, customer service, etc. With all of these roles weighing on you, in addition to the freedom and flexibility of creating your own schedule, it's incredibly easy to become distracted and feel like you have all the time in the world to complete tasks. In reality, your work still has deadlines, and you're still expected to perform at a certain level. So, I've compiled a few tips that will help you stay productive when perhaps all you want to do is lounge in bed.
Create a schedule and stick to it
Without the structure and expectations of a regular 9-to-5 job, it can be easy for certain tasks to fall by the wayside. As a freelancer, it's up to you to create your own schedule and actually go through with it. A huge benefit of freelancing full time is that your schedule is 100% up to you; you dictate when you work, what you work on, and how long your work day is. Make a plan of action that fits the lifestyle you want and also allows you to get all of your work done. A good way to do this is to bundle similar activities together. For example, I have one day a week dedicated to writing upcoming blog posts. On this day, I do everything pertaining to my blog—writing the posts, researching new topics, and creating the photos that go along with each post. I have another day dedicated to taking photos for my Instagram feed. This involves everything from prop selection, taking the photos, editing the photos, and uploading them to my preferred posting app (right now, it's Preview). And finally, I have a day dedicated to reaching out to new clients and following up with established ones. The rest of my time can be spent doing any editing or writing I need to get done for clients, but my main recurring activities are scheduled at times that will allow me to accomplish them on a consistent basis.
Use a planner
When I first started freelancing, I tried to keep track of everything in my head or in the Notes app on my phone. I quickly realized that I was always feeling flustered, overwhelmed, and unorganized. This left me slacking off on important tasks or forgetting them altogether. While I still don't plan every hour of my day in my planner, using a planner has helped me stay on track and on task. Having everything from appointments, deadlines, and to-dos in one place is extremely helpful and will keep you from missing important things in your schedule.
If you're like me and work from home, it can be challenging to stay on task with so many distractions around you (i.e. your bed, the TV, visiting friends, etc.). So, it's important that you establish a set working time and eliminate anything from your environment that may distract you and keep you from being productive. If working from home is a distraction in itself, it may be best for you to do your work somewhere else, like a coffee shop or the library. Working outside of the home will also help to create some separation between work and home life. Too often, freelancers find that their work life spills over into their home life because there's no longer a distinct separation between the two. In order to avoid this, it's best to create a specific work station for yourself, whether it's in a certain room of your home or in a public space.
Even if your friends and family are aware that you're a full-time freelancer, they could get the idea that you're simply not working or you're "in between jobs." In reality, a freelancer is always working, whether it's by promoting themselves on social media, reaching out to potential clients, or writing blog posts, there is always something that needs to be done to further their career. So, if you find that you're constantly getting distracted by friends stopping by or family members giving you a call at random times of the work day, it's important to establish boundaries for yourself. Let your friends and family know what your designated working hours are and ask them to respect it. You could even put your phone on vibrate or airplane mode just like you would if you were working a traditional 9-to-5.
Comment down below with any productivity tips you may have, whether you work from home or in a traditional office setting. And, as always, subscribe for more tips, tricks, and advice. I upload new blog posts every Wednesday and Sunday.