To be more productive, it’s important to reflect on your working habits. Freelancing means the way you work can directly affect how much you get paid, so here are five tips to help you minimize distractions and maximize focus.
Master Your Time and Get More From the Day
Those days when you’re powering through your to-do list feel great! Make productive days a habit by taking control of your time.
Try blocking out hours in your calendar for specific tasks or clients. It’s a great way to divide time between multiple projects, while still making sure each project progresses.
For greater focus, you can set timers within your work blocks. The Pomodoro technique suggests working a 25-minute stint before having a short 5-10 minute break and then repeating the process. Try the Tomato Timer to get started. By using timers, you’ll stay focused and avoid taking unscheduled breaks.
Use the Five Minute Rule to Keep on Top of Small Tasks
This one takes no time to implement: if something takes less than five minutes, do it right away! By dealing with micro-tasks as they appear, you’ll reduce any feeling of being overwhelmed. Easy.
Use TextExpander to save Time Typing
Your time is valuable and TextExpander can save hours from time spent typing. By pressing a short sequence of keys you can call upon frequently typed phrases or information. Think of it like a keyboard command, only instead of hitting Cmd + C to copy, you’re hitting a few keys to bring up that perfectly worded paragraph about invoicing that you send to new clients.
TextExpander can catch words you frequently spell wrong – the ones the spellchecker wouldn’t normally catch, like the surname of that kid from soccer practice whose name you always get wrong. You can even set up snippets for full titles – handy for doctors, lawyers and academics.
TextExpander multiplies email productivity. For starters, you can set up snippets for your most frequently used email addresses, including your own. And how often do you write out the same response to an inquiry about your rates and experience? Set up a snippet and you can respond in seconds.
Join this Freelance Writing snippet group for premade snippets for job applications. If you write articles for a living, you can check out this blog post on creating article frameworks for consistent and structured content, every time.
Silence Your Devices for Greater Focus
Put a stop to those pings. Work can be interrupted by the smallest of distractions. So, take away your phone’s temptations by switching to silent or Do Not Disturb. Set Do Not Disturb to automatically switch on during working hours or make it part of your set-up workflow to silence your phone. A quiet phone will help minimize distractions and allow greater focus.
Write Everything down to Keep a Clear Mind
Appointments, deadlines, emails and that school event you just heard about. Information overload! Allow your mind to be clutter-free by writing everything down. As David Allen says, “your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”
The Kanban Philosophy refers to this as “existential overhead” which is the cost in distraction and stress of your mind trying to juggle remembering uncompleted tasks. By writing everything down, you can visualize your workflow, leaving your mind free to focus. Read more on Kanban in Personal Kanban 101 and Personal Kanban Mapping Work | Navigating Life.
With these tips in hand, you’ll be flying through your to-do list. For more tips and tricks, join our group on Facebook.
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