A few weeks ago I shared 18 tips to help freelancers work more quickly. I covered aspects of faster freelancing, ranging from the most basic (get a good night’s sleep before you start work!) to the slightly trickier (delegating, time chunking, and removing distractions). However, like a certain French duo, Bidsketch’s blog readers are constantly striving to be “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” And who could blame you?
Well, I can certainly help you with the “better” and “faster” part.
Since three is a lucky number, let’s bump up those tips on more efficient freelancing from 18 to 33! Here are 15 more ways to work for yourself, faster:
1. Stop Censoring Yourself
For most freelancers — whether you’re a writer, an artist, a web designer, or an entrepreneurial inventor with a new product to share – idea generation is a job requirement. And the faster you get those ideas out of your brain and onto paper, the faster you can start transforming them from “ideas” to actual work.
Unfortunately, many of us get stuck in the idea generating phase due to mental blocks. These blockages are usually caused by self-censoring. You hold yourself back from writing ideas down because they aren’t perfect.
Stop censoring yourself. Let your ideas flow freely from your mind, creating stream-of-consciousness style mind maps. You’ll end up with a lot of crap on the page, of course; but you can always edit that out later. Remember: you don’t have to actually use every idea you write down. But, by allowing yourself to think freely, you’ll have sped up your process – allowing you to move to the next, more important, steps more quickly.
2. Can Negative Thoughts
Ideally, we’d love every client we choose to work with. Whilst I try to choose my clients as carefully as I can, there has been the occasional slip-up.
If you find yourself working for an “I didn’t know his project was going to be this boring” client, try to keep those thoughts at bay. If all you focus on is how “bored” you are or how much you “hate” the project you’ve taken on, you’re going to work more slowly. Instead, think how happy you’ll been when you’ve finished.
3. Use Your Phone
Email is convenient, but it can also be slow – both in the time it takes to write them and the time it takes to wait for a response from the recipient.
If you need to have a question answered immediately in order to get your work finished (or started!), pick up your phone and call your client.
4. Control Your Stress
Burned out freelancers are not fast freelancers. Do what you have to to keep your stress levels down. Avoid burnout at all costs.
5. Use a Faster Computer
This one sounds stupidly simple, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t think of it. By removing malware, spyware, and viruses from your computer – as well as routinely clearing your cookies and cache from your Internet browser – you can increase your computer’s speed exponentially.
Meaning, if you work on a computer, you will be working faster as well!
6. Think Big, Work Small
Setting lofty goals for yourself isn’t a bad thing. In fact, provided you have a plan to follow through on said goals, I encourage it! However, as the old adage states: “work smarter, not harder.”
If you’re a writer, don’t over research. If you only need three sources, only interview three people – not four, not eight, not ten. If you’re a graphic designer, don’t nit-pick every little detail.
I’m not telling you to do shoddy work. Just don’t do more work than you have to.
Social media can be a major time suck. Unfortunately, it’s also an essential part of modern marketing – especially for solopreneurs and freelancers.
By automating your process as much as possible, you can gain back several hours of your time. Try scheduling your updates in advance to increase your productivity. By spending a little time now to schedule your social media posts and blog updates, you’ll end up saving a lot of time later.
You can also “automate” your email replies in a sense by creating pre-saved “canned” responses to frequently asked questions. Speaking of email…
Take a cue from the Cybermen and “Delete, delete, delete!” Bad influences, bad habits, but especially bad emails.
And by “bad,” I don’t necessarily mean spam. Spam filters have gotten so good over the years that most of the spam you receive will go unnoticed. But I’d be willing to bet that your inbox isn’t completely empty, either. If you’re suffering from email overload, don’t worry; you’re not alone.
Don’t hold back with the delete button. If you get an email that you’re not interested in reading or doesn’t apply to you, delete it. If you delete someone’s emails more than you read them: unsubscribe. It’s that simple. By the time you’ve finished deleting the excess, your inbox will be a much more manageable (less overwhelming) size. And you’ll be able to quickly swift through the important messages when they come.
9. Get Those Nagging Tasks Out of the Way
If you know that you can’t possibly concentrate on your work until after you’ve done your laundry, then go do your laundry. Sometimes there are tasks that nag at us. That’s just one of life’s little quirks. Just go ahead and do what you gotta do.
Just make sure that you’re not using those “I gotta do…” tasks as an excuse not to do your work. The main reason to get those little nagging tasks out of the way is to increase your productivity, not to find ways to weasel out of it. Always ask yourself, “Does this really need to be done?”
10. Comfort is Key
Ergonomics matter. If you’re uncomfortable whilst doing what needs to be done, you’re not going to want to do it.
This could mean taking more control over your environment as a whole, or it could mean investing in a more supportive desk chair. You know what you need to be comfortable. Make it happen.
11. Hold Yourself Accountable
Many gurus will recommend telling someone your goals (or making a public announcement) to “create accountability.” But, while that may work for you for some things, it’s not a realistic technique for truly productive individuals. If you’re setting daily goals like you should be, how could you possibly share each of those goals with a friend without annoying the hell out of them?
Hold yourself accountable. Productivity requires discipline.
One of the experiments I tried in order to hold myself accountable was to create a task log. For several weeks, I wrote down everything that I did. Even if I only performed a task for a minute, I opened up my log and wrote it down. It was incredibly grating — it got to the point where I no longer bothered to deviate from the task at hand because it would mean having to open up my task log and write it down. And that was exactly as it should be. Great speed requires great focus, and great focus starts within you.
12. Don’t Multitask
Resist the urge to increase your overall speed by performing more than one task at a time. Research has shown that multitaking actually reduces productivity by up to 40 percent.
As always, focus on quality above all else. If you have to choose between doing three projects extremely well or six things averagely, do the three things. Over time, as you get used to your new higher-level of focus, speed will start to creep into your work.
13. Temporarily Escape Your Isolation
Work-at-home freelancers know that loneliness, more than fear, is the “mind killer.” Make it a point to reach out to someone at some point in your day. Get some human contact. Cabin fever will only slow you down.
But remember to be firm about your work boundaries. Keep your conversations short and regulated to your breaks. Let the other person know that you’ll catch up with them in full later and that, at the moment, you just wanted to “check in.”
14. Tackle Problems as They Arise
Things won’t always go your way. There will be days when your to-do list is torn asunder. Days when everything you’ve been working on and toward has been all but destroyed.
Don’t hide under your bed covers when this happens. Do whatever it takes to calm yourself, but let that be the extent of your procrastination.
The sooner you tackle your problems – whether they be your mistakes or someone else’s – the sooner you can get back to work. And getting back to work, quickly, is the name of the game.
For example, if a new client sends you an RFP, don’t wait until the end of the day to get it done. Here’s a great example proposal template you can model to get you started. All you have to is fill in the blanks and send it out asap.
15. Get Started
Stop reading articles about how to work faster and just get to work already!
If you spend all of your time “thinking about” doing your work rather than actually doing it…of course you’re going to be slow! Sometimes the quickest route to more efficient productivity is to simply get started.
Image by chadmula.