- Productivity is about work efficiency and quality, not the amount of work done.
- Based on a survey, staying productive is one of the top challenges freelancers face.
- Inadequate work environment and technology, lack of healthy habits, structure, and chances for socialization, as well as trying to multitask can hamper productivity.
- By following the simple 3-2-2 productivity checklist that involves the most basic, easy-to-adopt activities you can do for more productive freelance work.
Productivity is not about doing more. This may sound contradictory or ironic as productivity is commonly defined and measured in terms of how much work is done. But the truth is, it is more about efficiency and quality of work than just the amount of output generated.
Staying productive is one of the top challenges of freelancers according to a survey conducted by Freelancermap.com, next to acquiring clients, establishing work-life balance, and getting a better pay rate.
Freelancers have a unique work set up that makes keeping up with productivity all the more challenging. Before we proceed with our productivity checklist, let’s try to figure out what hampers productivity in the first place. These factors may also apply to regular employees, but we’ll look at each one according to how it relates with freelancers.
- Non-conducive work environment. Because freelancers need to make do with a kitchen countertop, their bedroom, or a coffee shop as a work desk or office most of the time, there may be too much stimuli and temptation that can get their attention and rob their focus.
- Outdated technology and slow internet. Most freelancers and remote workers rely heavily on technology to successfully carry out their jobs. Lack of right devices or defective ones, as well as slow internet can disrupt work big time and affect communication and quality of output.
- Unhealthy habits. You don’t get to produce the best work when your body is not at its best. Having been a freelancer for years, Lucinda Honeycutt knows how freelancing can be hazardous to one’s health. In her Entrepreneur.com article, she shares possible health hazards freelancers should watch out for such as a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and Vitamin D deficiency.
- Multitasking. Our brains are actually geared to do one task at a time. Even when we believe we’re “multitasking,” we’re really just task-switching. This practice is proven to be counterproductive as it can slow you down by up to 40% according to a study by the Journal of Experimental Psychology.
- Lack of structure. While being able to work from anywhere, any time can be totally liberating, the loss of structure can pose issues on productivity. With this much freedom, it’s easier to do other things than work, especially if you lack self-discipline and proper self-management.
- Isolation and/or loneliness. Because freelancers often work all by themselves, they are more prone to loneliness. Stephen Liptrap of The Globe and Mail has cited numerous studies that show how “chronically isolated people are less productive than those with solid social connections.”
Being able to pinpoint what gets you unproductive is an important pre-step in order to work on improving your productivity. As you look over the productivity checklist below, you’ll notice that these practices address most of the inhibiting factors listed earlier.
The 3-2-2 Productivity Checklist for Freelancers
There are plenty of printed and online materials that discuss ways on how to be productive. They come in as work hacks or productivity tips for freelancers. The problem is, one may find them hard to follow or stick to, and may soon be forgotten over time.
What’s great about this productivity checklist is that the practices here are just normal tasks, so they’re easy to incorporate into your daily routine. To make it simpler, the activities are grouped in three –3 activities before work, 2 activities during work, and 2 activities after work.
Productivity Checklist Before Work
- Make your bed in the morning.
When you’re a freelancer working from home, chances are you could always catch sight of your bed. And an unmade one could lure you more to hop back in. Besides, making your bed each morning gives you a sense of accomplishment early on that gives you momentum and motivation for your next tasks.
- Exercise and eat healthy.
A little exercise can awaken you more and make you feel more alive, while a healthy meal can fuel your body for work. That’s why these are great prep activities for a productive day ahead.
- Shower and put your pants on.
Many consider being able to go from bed to work without the need to shower and change clothes as a perk of working from home. However, getting out of your pajamas and showering in the morning can help give some sense of structure and can signal your brain that work is about to start.
Productivity Checklist During Work
- Have a fixed time and place for work.
When you’re trying to bring structure to freelance work, consistency is key. It’s best to work in one spot at a fixed time every single day, rather than just flopping down anywhere or working when you feel like it. The freedom comes in choosing the right place (preferably away from temptations and distractions) and the best time to work.
- Honor your scheduled rest period.
It is called power nap for a reason. A Japanese study reveals that napping can effectively reduce tension and stress. This can lead to better job performance and longer work engagement. Other forms of relaxation can include walking, reading a book, or meditating.
Productivity Checklist After Work
- Don’t forget to socialize.
Not through social media. Really spend time with your family and friends when work time is over. Talk about how your day went or even plan a weekend getaway with them. Connecting with loved ones can stimulate enjoyment and fight off loneliness. A research published in the Academy of Management Journal discovers that the feeling of loneliness does relate to lower job performance.
- Plan your day the night before.
Productivity Coach, Tet Antonio, suggests that coming up with a clear game plan for the next day can get you to hit the ground running as soon as you get up in the morning and get to work. This way, you don’t waste time thinking about what to do first or what to do next.
As you can see, these activities are pretty basic. No radical changes. No complicated productivity tools. But when you follow this simple productivity checklist and stay with it, you’ll form healthier habits, be more focused, bring work structure, and beat chronic isolation and loneliness. These can get you to become more productive and make your freelancing truly rewarding.
You can also try coworking to amp up your productivity. Common Ground offers the best working conditions complete with ergonomic office furniture and business-class equipment to help you concentrate and do your job well. There’s also superfast internet connection, as well as a vibrant and friendly work community that can inspire you to work smarter and get better. Visit a Common Ground facility near you or navigate around their website and Facebook page to learn more.