4 Work Efficiency Tips for Freelancers
Every minute counts as an entrepreneur. Unlike working a typical office job, you aren’t getting paid during your coffee breaks or “inspiration” sessions (you know, playing Solitaire). Time is money for a freelancer, and this list of work efficiency tips will help you squeeze the most out of every tick of the clock.
#1 Find Your Ideal Working Hours
There is no one-size-fits-all schedule that will make you a more efficient freelancer. While the regular world seems to think that 9 to 5 is ideal, you chose to be a freelancer because you wanted to set your own rules. So the first of our work efficiency tips is to find the best work schedule for you.
Some people love to rise before the sun and bust out most of their work for the day while the rest of the world is sleeping. Others prefer to work late into the wee hours of the night. Still others split up their work, leaving a large chunk in the middle of the day for family, friends, and leisure.
The important thing to do is to experiment until you find something that works for you. And feel free to get scientific about it. Try a few different work schedules for a week or so at a time and keep a journal to quantify how they work out. For each one, rate your experiences on whatever factors are most relevant to you: efficiency, energy, happiness, stress level, family time, etc. After you’ve tried out several different options, compare your results to make a final decision.
#2 Try the Pomodoro Technique
One of the key work efficiency tips for anyone trying to make the most of their time is effectively integrating breaks into your day. If we don’t plan them out, it is way too easy to let a “quick Facebook check” turn into an hour of looking at stupid memes.
While you should experiment to find a break routine that best suits you, a great place to start is with something called the Pomodoro Technique. It looks like this:
- Choose the task that you need to get done.
- Set a 25 minute timer, and work solely on the task at hand.
- When the timer beeps, take a short 3 to 5 minute break.
- Set another timer for 25 minutes, and again work solely on the assigned task.
- Take another short break.
- After you have completed four 25-minute work sessions, take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes.
The Pomodoro Technique works so well at keeping us focused for several reasons. First, the timer creates urgency, forcing us to make efficient use of our precious minutes. Second, the knowledge that we always have a break coming up makes the work seem less daunting. Finally, the short breaks allow us to mindfully distract ourselves so that we don’t seek out distraction as a way to procrastinate.
If you are curious, the technique gets it name from the Italian word for tomato: pomodoro. The gentleman who invented the method, Francesco Cirillo, happened to use a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato.
#3 Apply Parkinson’s Law to Your Advantage
Parkinson’s Law is another piece of psychology that you can work to your advantage to improve your efficiency as a freelancer. If you aren’t familiar with it, Parkinson’s Law states that work will expand to fill the time allotted to complete it.
Anyone who ever went through a schooling system probably experienced this to some extent. Did you ever notice that it didn’t matter whether you were given 2 days or 2 weeks to write an essay. Either way you probably took the entire time allotted, even if the essays were the exact same length?
Parkinson’s Law is basically an observation our natural inclination to waste time, procrastinate, or otherwise work inefficiently. And since you know about it, you can use it to your advantage whenever you make your to-do lists or set your schedule.
As you line up your tasks for the day or week, estimate how long each one will take you. Then, allot yourself a little bit less time than your estimate. You will work more efficiently and avoid unnecessary complications that we tend to create for ourselves.
#4 Avoid Multitasking
A lot of people think they are good multitaskers.
Most of them are wrong.
Unless one of the tasks is incredibly mindless, most human beings simply don’t have the ability to focus effectively on more than one thing at a time. Sure you can probably chew gum while you answer an email. Or drink your coffee while you do your keyword research. But only about 2% of people can actually remain productive while they multitask on more complicated activities.
Unless you’re one of these “supertaskers” (which, statistically speaking, you’re probably not), then you are reducing your productivity by about 40% every time you attempt to multitask.
This is primarily because your brain is forced to restart itself each time you switch between tasks. If you are in the middle of writing an important email, for example, and then decide to work on a client’s project, your brain will have re-establish where it left off when you finally go back to finish the email. This drains your time, and more importantly, it drains your energy.
The Pomodoro Technique discussed above is a perfect cure for multitasking. If you are actually following the rules of the procedure, your 25 minute work interval is meant to be hyper-focused on a single task. When you’re answering emails, just answer emails. When you’re working on a project, just work on that project. You can always switch tasks after your next break if you really need to.
Be The Most Efficient Freelancer You Can Be On Legiit
Ready to put these work efficiency tips to good use in your freelancing endeavors? If you aren’t already offering your services on Legiit, check it out today.
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