Whether you work at home or in a co-working space, Freelance consultants will not see payment for our work until key milestones are reached or the project is complete. Pay day will come around as scheduled only when we have the discipline to do our best work and get the job done. Productivity equals a pay check for the self-employed. Productivity also means that one is able to devote adequate time to activities that enhance the consulting practice, such as professional development and networking, as well as having time to enjoy a personal life. Here are a few things you can do to maintain peak performance every day.
Define your work schedule
In general, Freelancers need to be available when clients expect us to be available. Answering client emails within an hour and calls as they come in demonstrates that we’re responsive and trustworthy. Define the hours that you’ll be on the job and commit to working within that time frame. Unless you’re on a very time-sensitive project, being “open for business” from approximately 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM Monday through Friday, with the exception of holidays, will seem reasonable to your clients.
Perform one task at a time
Multi-tasking has lost its luster. Productivity experts now realize that we perform better when we work on one task at a time and give it our full attention. Attempting to work simultaneously on more than one task can easily result in errors that require do-overs that undermine productivity.
Schedule time for content marketing and social media
Investigate social media aggregators such as Flock, Buffer and Hootsuite , so that you can manage your blog, newsletter and social media accounts all from one dashboard. Aggregators allow you to efficiently schedule and focus on this aspect of your consulting practice, whether you check in every day or once a week. Some of these services offer a free, but limited, option that might meet your needs.
Organize your work space
Followers of Feng Shui understand the importance of maintaining a clean, neat desk and office space, as do devotees of Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (2011). De-cluttering is good for the soul and good for productivity, too. For more information, please read my post Feng Shui for your office .
Every day, create a to-do list for the next day. Rank the list into A-Tasks (high priority), B -Tasks (important, not urgent) and C-Tasks (do them when time allows). The A-Tasks are what you start with each day.
Do not allow yourself to be controlled by non-business related incoming calls and emails. Put your ringer on silent and keep an eye on caller ID, so you’ll know if you must answer a call and do the same with emails—answer what pertains to business immediately. You may want to devote the early morning and evening to answering non-urgent calls and emails.
Every 90 minutes to two hours, take a brain break. On a nice day, you might take a walk around the block. If it’s cold or wet, leave your desk, find a comfortable place to put your feet up and meditate for 15 minutes. Recharging your energy stores is important for promoting concentration, focus and creativity.
Decide how much time you should spend on a particular task and make yourself follow the time you allot. Creating a bit of urgency can be a useful tactic to keep yourself motivated and working.
Close your office door when you are not home alone, or signal that you’re engrossed in work if you’re in an open plan co-working space, to discourage others from dropping in to gossip or otherwise ease their boredom at your expense. However, make yourself available to your child during your break times or when s/he has an urgent need and be available to take important work-related questions posed by your co-working colleagues. It is unrealistic to hermetically seal yourself off from your environment, but nevertheless imperative that you have the ability to work undisturbed.
Numerous studies conducted over the past 20 years have shown a positive correlation between regular exercise and productivity, in addition to the benefits for one’s physical and psychological health. Create a physical and psychological foundation that supports your productivity by hitting the gym, going for a run or swim, or participating in the team sport of your choice, at least four times a week, for a minimum of 30 minutes per session.
Review and evaluate your day
At the end of the day, evaluate how well you measured up to the items on your to-do list. Did you accomplish what you set out to do? Identify what helped, or hindered, your performance and make any necessary adjustments.
Thanks for reading,
Image: The Gleaners (1857) Jean-Francois Millet (1814 – 1875) Courtesy of La Musee D’Orsay, Paris