10 Productivity Tips for Creative Freelancers
Being a freelancer or solopreneur sounds like the perfect intersection of glamour and comfort. You can work from home and stay in pajamas all day. You have unlimited access to your snack cupboard. You’re your own boss, you call the shots, you make your own hours. You’ll have more free time, flexibility, and fun-- right?
Turns out riding solo is not always all that it’s cracked up to be. You sleep in because you can. You get distracted by chores around the house when you should be working. You go a few days without showering and a few more days without seeing another human. And eventually, you start to miss how productive you were when working in an office.
However, there are a few things you can do to establish a rhythm to your workflow and amp up your productivity. We’ve rounded up 10 tips to help you crush the solopreneur & freelancer life. Really, most of these tips will also apply to people working from more traditional office settings, so read on, workers!
1. Establish and maintain a designated work schedule.
A bit of flexibility is good, but scheduling still matters. If you let your days get too freeform then your productivity may go down and it may feel like you’re working all the time-- it’s better to designate regular work hours, and when the end of your work day rolls around (be it 3pm or 10pm) shut down everything work related.
2. Set regular, repeated tasks.
This will help give some structure to your day. A daily review of priorities and tasks each morning is a good place to start. Or maybe you end your day reviewing what you got done and creating your schedule for the following day. Most days will be very different, but find a few habitual tasks that anchor your daily workflow.
3. Get dressed.
Studies have shown that what you wear influences your psychological processes and behavior. Wearing things that make you feel put together and professional also make you feel more powerful and productive. There’s nothing wrong with wearing comfy clothing, but you’re best off wearing something that you’d feel confident in if you ran into a client on the street or at a coffee shop.
4. Create a special work space.
For most people, beds and couches are not conducive to productivity. It can be nice to work from the comfort of your own home, but you should consider your bed and bedroom a sacred space reserved for relaxation, recovery, and Netflix (it’s part of this little ditty called sleep hygiene). Set up a nice desk space, studio, or full home office that feels motivating and organized.
5. Set boundaries for your friends.
This relates back to #1. You need to make clear to your friends, family, and significant others that even though you work from home and create your own schedule does not mean that you can just clear your schedule and go to lunch with them on a whim. Communicate to them when exactly you are on the clock and when your schedule is flexible or free.
6. Go “off-site” for a change of scenery.
Pick a few days a week to work from coffee shops, bookstores, co-working spaces, or libraries. Your productivity will likely benefit from changing up the environment, plus you’ll get a healthy dose of human contact.
7. Honor your energy and attention levels.
Stop when you’re behind. That’s to say, if you’ve maxed out your creative juices and hit a productivity wall, stop staring at the screen and twiddling your thumbs. At this point you have two choices: 1) take a full break from work-- go for a walk, check social media, or make a snack, or 2) shift gears and do some easy work tasks that don’t require as much thought or creativity, we call this "robot work"-- like spreadsheet work or photo editing.
8. Socialize and network.
You likely spend a lot of your workday alone, so it’s important to network with other professionals in your field. This can unfold as friendships, support systems, resources, and potentially future business partners or collaborators. Attend meetups, portfolio reviews, workshops, Instagram meetups, hackathons, and startup weekends.
9. Create standardized workflows.
Just because you don’t have to standardize processes for a huge team doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t standardize processes for yourself. You will save an immense amount of time and energy if you have clearly documented workflows. These workflows can map out things like blog production, photo production, client management, and more. Track your flows by using the kanban method, either offline using sticky notes or online using Trello.
10. Make an actionable to do list.
Write your tasks down as action-items (like “select fonts for printable calendar”), not vague longer-term goals or projects (like “work on printables”). Break things down to small bite sized pieces-- narrow foci will facilitate efficiency.
Creative Community Developer at Snapfluence.
I'm the Oxford comma's biggest fan.