Productivity for freelancers is EVERYTHING . I talk about this a lot when coaching web designers—efficiency is the only way to sustain a side hustle. Many of us still have full-time jobs in addition to our freelance workload. The way in which you do what you do determines how much you can get done. The right tools, processes, and practices allow you to maximize your productivity. I’m here to help you stay organized, work efficiently, and squeeze the most out of every day!
You can download a dozen task management apps and canvas your walls with Post-It notes, but if your head isn’t in the right place, there’s no way to maintain productivity for freelancers. Sure, making websites might be your favorite thing in the world—but once money is involved, it becomes work.
Work is a responsibility. Work requires diligence and discipline. Chances are, your side gig isn’t your only gig. Taking on more labor (and more headaches) requires a clear mind—and a plan of action.
Where is your psychological center? Your happy place? Where do you do your best thinking? *pause for potty jokes* For me, it’s running. Guys, I’m SO bad at running. I’m slow, constantly in pain, and have zero lung capacity whatsoever—but it’s my personal zen. About two years ago, after decades of sedentary living, I added a light 2-mile jog into my daily routine and what a difference! Trust me, I’m not trying to sell you on running (it sucks), but you need to find YOUR thing that keeps you sane while juggling this crazy freelance lifestyle we’ve chosen.
This starts at the very top. If you’ve agreed to take on more than you can handle, you’re just begging for burnout. It takes willpower (and guts) to turn down work, but we should always think big picture. A crazy backlog of projects might be exciting from a financial standpoint, but it can be devastating professionally. It’s basic math; there just aren’t enough hours in the day to say yes to everything, all the time. Something will inevitably give—whether that be your day job, social life, quality standards, family time, personal health, or all of the above.
As entrepreneurs wearing several hats in our freelance web design business, it’s only natural we get distracted by various requests, inquiries, and fires to put out. A single email can send your whole day into a tailspin. We refer to this as “shiny object syndrome” and it’s the kryptonite to calculated focus. There is no blanket remedy for combating this phenomenon. However, you can observe the occasions something takes your short-term plan off the rails and create personal rules to avoid it tomorrow.
With all of this said, productivity for freelancers means adhering to a schedule that works for you will help tremendously. On the surface level, I do mean setting work hours and sticking to them. Go deeper, though… Devise a weekly routine, segmented by days, where you know exactly what you’re working on from the moment you wake up. The more disciplined you are about adhering to this schedule, the happier and more productive you’ll be.
If you just pictured shiny futuristic robots building websites for you, we are on the same wavelength. Although, this isn’t really about automating your projects as much as it is offloading the less critical, repetitive tasks you find yourself spending time on. If administrative burdens are eating up the day, look for opportunities to outsource them to apps, services, or other people. Yes, this is likely a new expense BUT will ultimately put you in a much better position to scale up your freelance business.
I’m a tactile person by nature, and have always appreciated opportunities to put an actual pen to actual paper. For as long as I can remember, my to-do list has lived on a spiral notebook about 7 inches to the right of my mouse. You see, it doesn’t matter if you prefer a journal or a napkin or an app like Todoist to keep your tasks straight. What matters is that they are all in ONE place.
We’re creative beings, which sometimes lends itself to a messy filing system for life’s miscellaneous paperwork and whatnot. Your business, however, needs to be buttoned up. You can’t possibly be your most productive self when your most important notes, appointments, and assets aren’t centralized. Organization feels SO good and I could talk about it all day. If you’re not already on my mailing list, subscribe below for my best organizational tips and epiphanies.
In 2020, the world found out just how difficult it can be to work from home. Distractions are the ultimate productivity killer. Coupled with less than ideal office layouts and environmental conditions, it can seem like the odds of getting stuff done are stacked against you.
My advice is to prioritize your workspace. Whether you live in a studio apartment or a mega mansion, find your dedicated, no nonsense work zone. Having a door between you and the circus around you is ideal, but not essential. This isn’t just about claiming physical square footage for freelancing; the desk itself is just as important. Create a scene that helps you work better and be happier. Sometimes that means sacrificing the useless business card holder for a cheap golden cat statue—and that’s okay! Your surroundings are a vital piece of success in this business because this is where you do what you do.