88 Tips to Make You a Productive Freelancer

Fri, Mar 12, 2010

Productivity Week, Time Management

88 Tips to Make You a Productive Freelancer

This article is not only as a summary of what we have discussed during ‘Productivity Week’ but there are additional pieces of advice for all freelancers and entrepreneur. Following all these points or at least most of them is guaranteed to increase your productivity, income and assist you in managing your time. The ultimate goal of effective time management is to spend time with our loved ones and following these points will definitely give you more time with them.

  1. Organise your files/papers into a filing cabinet
  2. Organise all files on your computer into relevant folders
  3. Have only one piece of paper on your desk
  4. Get a another monitor
  5. Get adequate sleep
  6. Plan everything
  7. Plan all meetings/events in a diary
  8. Have a notice board to remind you of the most important/pending issues
  9. Write a to-do list
  10. Assess every item on the to-do list and see if it helps you succeed
  11. Break down the steps in your to-do list
  12. Do the hardest tasks on your to-do list first
  13. Actually carry out the tasks on the to-do list swiftly and reward yourself
  14. Use Steven Covey’s four quadrant to-do list
  15. Get a PDA
  16. Do the important things and avoid (if possible) the non-important things
  17. Try to clump similar things together, e.g. call people in a “calling people hour”
  18. Kill procrastination as soon as it is born – it is the thief of time
  19. Identify why you are not motivated and fight that
  20. Don’t leave anything to the last minute, it will cost you time
  21. Make a fake deadline and stick to that
  22. Put papers in a paper-recycling bin, so you don’t throw anything important away and spend time making amends
  23. Always have a real phonebook
  24. Make full use of post-it-notes
  25. Back up all files on external hard-drive
  26. Get a notepad which you should carry with you at all times
  27. For three days monitor your time every three minutes
  28. When assessing your time, get rid of the things you waste most time on
  29. Ask yourself how you can do more in the day
  30. Plan to do tasks at their appropriate time (where you are most likely to enjoy them)
  31. Constantly ask yourself how you can be more efficient
  32. Write a list 100 things you want to do in life
  33. Look back every day at this ‘100 things’ list and ask yourself what you did today to achieve them
  34. 80:20 rule – concentrate on the 20% of your clients who provide 80% of your income
  35. Don’t get down at a bad judgement – it gives experience
  36. If you dream something, do it
  37. Delegate any task which you can to someone else
  38. Pay people to do things which would cost you time (e.g. gardening)
  39. Treat the person you delegated to with respect
  40. Don’t dump tasks on a person
  41. Do the hardest things yourself
  42. Let the person use their own imagination and initiative or else they will take too long trying to fit your criteria
  43. Give the person a specific date, time, penalty and reward for the task
  44. Write things down, even if it is in an email to the person you delegated to – saves future disputes which cost time
  45. Don’t sign up to newsletters which you will never read
  46. Don’t use/purchase any software which will never benefit you
  47. Don’t sign into any IM while working
  48. Leave no unread emails in your inbox
  49. Keep no emails in your inbox – file them
  50. Don’t delete any important emails
  51. At the beginning of a phone conversation stating the goals of the conversation
  52. Always have phone conversations whilst standing up– they will last less time
  53. Call people before lunch so that they want to get off the phone
  54. Have something you WANT to do after the conversation, so you push the conversation along
  55. Get a speaker phone
  56. Use hands free/Bluetooth so you can do more than be on the phone or call while walking
  57. Switch the speaker on when waiting in a phone call and do something productive while waiting
  58. Work in such a place where there will not be distractions
  59. Put a lock on your office door to prevent distractions
  60. Ensure there is no noise when you receive an email – a big distraction
  61. Switch your mobile off or put it on silent and away from yourself when working
  62. In one-to-one meetings explain to your client or whoever that you only have 5 minutes; this gives you an excuse to leave or extend as you please
  63. When someone is not leaving your office stand up and walk with them to the door
  64. If they still don’t leave, thank them for coming
  65. If they still don’t leave, shake their hand
  66. If they still don’t leave, tell them you have to go now and say goodbye
  67. Make the ‘visitor chair’ in your office uncomfortable to ensure meetings are shorter
  68. NEVER put your feet up in your office
  69. Don’t have an office chair in which you can lie down
  70. Don’t listen to music/radio while working
  71. Get a parent-type internet site blocker
  72. Smash your TV with a baseball bat, or just put it in the closet
  73. Avoid coffee – it will slow you down and you can’t make the best of your time
  74. Give up smoking/alcohol because these seriously cost time
  75. NEVER play an RPG
  76. Re-negotiate deadlines as opposed to rushing them
  77. In meetings always take minutes to save time in the next meeting
  78. All people in the meeting must have their mobiles off
  79. Never have a meeting for longer than an hour
  80. Only have a meeting if there is a purpose
  81. Always have an agenda to follow in meetings
  82. Learn to say no to people who will be wasting your time
  83. Be effective with your time i.e. don’t always try and fit everything in, be sensible
  84. Make the most of situations where you can’t do much else e.g. Reading reports while exercising
  85. Have a packed lunch if you work out of home so you don’t spend an entire lunch in a queue at McDonalds
  86. Sulking and moaning will take up too much time; just get on with what must be done
  87. As a freelancer don’t work more than 40 hours in the week unless it is sensible
  88. NEVER EVER negotiate the time you spend with your loved ones

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1. Organise your files/papers into a filing cabinet

2. Organise all files on your computer into relevant folders

3. Have only one piece of paper on your desk

4. Get a another monitor

5. Get adequate sleep

6. Plan everything

7. Plan all meetings/events in a diary

8. Have a notice board to remind you of the most important/pending issues

9. Write a to-do list

10. Assess every item on the to-do list and see if it helps you succeed

11. Break down the steps in your to-do list

12. Do the hardest tasks on your to-do list first

13. Actually carry out the tasks on the to-do list swiftly and reward yourself

14. Use Steven Covey’s four quadrant to-do list

15. Get a PDA

16. Do the important things and avoid (if possible) the non-important things

17. Try to clump similar things together, e.g. call people in a “calling people hour”

18. Kill procrastination as soon as it is born – it is the thief of time

19. Identify why you are not motivated and fight that

20. Don’t leave anything to the last minute, it will cost you time

21. Make a fake deadline and stick to that

22. Put papers in a paper-recycling bin, so you don’t throw anything important away and spend time making amends

23. Always have a real phonebook

24. Make full use of post-it-notes

25. Back up all files on external hard-drive

26. Get a notepad which you should carry with you at all times

27. For three days monitor your time every three minutes

28. When assessing your time, get rid of the things you waste most time on

29. Ask yourself how you can do more in the day

30. Plan to do tasks at their appropriate time (where you are most likely to enjoy them)

31. Constantly ask yourself how you can be more efficient

32. Write a list 100 things you want to do in life

33. Look back every day at this ‘100 things’ list and ask yourself what you did today to achieve them

34. 80:20 rule – concentrate on the 20% of your clients who provide 80% of your income

35. Don’t get down at a bad judgement – it gives experience

36. If you dream something, do it

37. Delegate any task which you can to someone else

38. Pay people to do things which would cost you time (e.g. gardening)

39. Treat the person you delegated to with respect

40. Don’t dump tasks on a person

41. Do the hardest things yourself

42. Let the person use their own imagination and initiative or else they will take too long trying to fit your criteria

43. Give the person a specific date, time, penalty and reward for the task

44. Write things down, even if it is in an email to the person you delegated to – saves future disputes which cost time

45. Don’t sign up to newsletters which you will never read

46. Don’t use/purchase any software which will never benefit you

47. Don’t sign into any IM while working

48. Leave no unread emails in your inbox

49. Keep no emails in your inbox – file them

50. Don’t delete any important emails

51. At the beginning of a phone conversation stating the goals of the conversation

52. Always have phone conversations whilst standing up– they will last less time

53. Call people before lunch so that they want to get off the phone

54. Have something you WANT to do after the conversation, so you push the conversation along

55. Get a speaker phone

56. Use hands free/Bluetooth so you can do more than be on the phone or call while walking

57. Switch the speaker on when waiting in a phone call and do something productive while waiting

58. Work in such a place where there will not be distractions

59. Put a lock on your door to prevent distractions

60. Ensure there is no noise when you receive an email – a big distraction

61. Switch your mobile off or put it on silent and away from yourself when working

62. In one-to-one meetings explain to your client or whoever that you only have 5 minutes; this gives you an excuse to leave or extend as you please

63. When someone is not leaving your office stand up and walk with them to the door

64. If they still don’t leave, thank them for coming

65. If they still don’t leave, shake their hand

66. If they still don’t leave, tell them you have to go now and say goodbye

67. Make the ‘visitor chair’ in your office uncomfortable to ensure meetings are shorter

68. NEVER put your feet up in your office

69. Don’t have an office chair in which you can lie down

70. Don’t listen to music/radio while working

71. Get a parent-type internet site blocker

72. Smash your TV with a baseball bat, or just put it in the closet

73. Avoid coffee – it will slow you down and you can’t make the best of your time

74. Give up smoking/alcohol because these seriously cost time

75. NEVER play an RPG

76. Re-negotiate deadlines as opposed to rushing them

77. In meetings always take minutes to save time in the next meeting

78. All people in the meeting must have their mobiles off

79. Never have a meeting for longer than an hour

80. Only have a meeting if there is a purpose

81. Always have an agenda to follow in meetings

82. Learn to say no to people who will be wasting your time

83. Be effective with your time i.e. don’t always try and fit everything in, be sensible

84. Make the most of situations where you can’t do much else e.g. Reading reports while exercising

85. Have a packed lunch if you work out of home so you don’t spend an entire lunch in a queue at McDonalds

86. Sulking and moaning will take up too much time; just get on with what must be done

87. As a freelancer don’t work more than 40 hours in the week unless it is sensible

88. NEVER EVER negotiate the time you spend with your loved ones

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This post was written by:

- who has written 54 posts on Freelance Apple.

Shoaib Hussain is an web entrepreneur who was formerly a freelancer. He is the main writer and owner on FreelanceSchool.com and aims to enlighten young freelancers with his vast experience and deep knowledge. Shoaib Hussain also spends his time giving advice to budding freelancers and helping web businesses.

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24 Responses to “88 Tips to Make You a Productive Freelancer”

  1. Joe Says:

    Although most of these things on this are good there are just some that are just plain stupid. Coffee, internet blocker, no music? Come on. And seriously, who files all of their emails? No one. If you’re running a successful business, you don’t have time to do half of the things on that list… unless you don’t want to make money of course. Make to-do lists all you want. Without drive, dedication and focus, your to do lists is nothing more than toilet paper. I’m pissed that I wasted time reading that list over. Oh I have to go now… my gardener is knocking at the door. Come on, get real. If you want a list, I’ll make you a REAL LIFE list.

  2. Shoaib Says:

    Joe, thanks for your comment. IMO it depends what type of person you are. There are people who can’t control themselves from going onto youtube etc and they ought to get an internet blocker, personally I could never work if music or the radio were on and I find coffee slows many people down. So it depends, of course if you don’t fit into these categories that’s fine. lol, a very comical comment generally and you have a very outspoken opinion, i like that. Maybe you could write a list and we could learn from it? Wanna guest post?

  3. Kaleigh Albus Says:

    Fantastic post, thanks a lot!

  4. Pedro Says:

    I agree with most of them. But not all.
    I organize all email in folders by clients and projects, something I learned years ago. Makes searching for something much easier. I really need music to do most of the work, but it can also be a distraction if you really need to concentrate. The one I Dont agree is the about coffee. I dont drink much, but my day wont start without it. Thanks for the tips.

  5. Shoaib Says:

    @Pedro, nicely put. Different people have different needs and styles, if yours works, cool!

    There are some people who prefer a scattered desk – an organised mess where everything is a stretch away, if it works, two thumbs up!

  6. Joseph McCullough Says:

    Some of these were pretty smart and funny, like using discomfort to usher things along. My main problem is space management. For some reason, no matter HOW much space I have, I just have this feeling that it’s never enough, and it always stresses me out.

    Although there are some things in the list I don’t feel will be helpful to apply, MOST of these ideas are great. Thank you for the article.

  7. Shoaib Says:

    lol, yeah, I can see that some people disagree with some of them.

    With regard to feeling like you have more space try painting your office a light colour, even white or cream. Apply mirrors in your office and use laminate flooring or a light coloured carpet. Try to rearrange furniture in such a way that there are big spaces where you can see the carpet. These things ought to make your room feel a little bigger. I’m no expert, but I have renovated many houses so ;)

  8. Issa Says:

    This is definitely a long list but something very useful, specially for a full-time freelancers such as myself who tend to forget some things on your list, every now and then. Thanks!

  9. Philippine Love Songs Says:

    we have different office chairs in the office and i love to use those office chairs with clothe cover ;*-


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