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7 Simple Productivity Tips for Freelancers

When you tell people you work as a freelancer, they’re probably going to conjure images of someone lounging on their couch, binge-watching Netflix, and eating junk food all day. The freelancing reality is very different. Being your own boss gives you freedom in your day but also means that you are 100% responsible for managing your time. Not always the easiest of tasks, is it?

As a newbie (or even an experienced) freelancer, you NEED to be productive. It’s how you make money, right? In this blog post, I’m going to share seven of my favorite methods to help you be more productive as a freelance writer or blogger. Following my tips can help you boost your productivity and accomplish more in less time. Because who couldn’t use more minutes back in their day?

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This blog post was previously published on our Copy Girl Writes blog.

Productivity Tip #1: create a schedule

When you have a day job, it comes with a schedule. You get up, consume a cup (or three) of coffee, get dressed, and head to the office. When you work for yourself, you have to create that schedule. Staying on task can get tricky pretty quickly … especially if you’re like me and you get distracted by shiny things.

Having a routine provides structure and consistency, two tools that make us more productive.

So find your most productive hours – mine are usually between 10 AM and 3 PM – and schedule out your day. Designate a set start and end time.

And I mean schedule everything, especially your breaks. Treat them like client calls or deadlines, and make yourself stick to them. Not only does this keep you from working for hours at a time, but it also helps with productivity (see Pomodoro Technique below).

Productivity Tip #2: batch similar tasks

Let’s say you’re a copywriter or content writer for small businesses and solopreneurs (like me!). Many projects are going to have similar tasks.

These tasks can include (but certainly not be limited to):

  • outlining a blog post or piece of copy
  • researching the target audience or topic
  • creating an outline
  • writing the blog post or copy
  • editing and revising
  • submitting to the client or publishing the blog post

Each project will be different, but to be productive, you need to batch similar tasks. If you have multiple projects due at the same time, you’ll block out time for each task – outlining, writing, editing, etc.

Focusing on one task at a time instead of trying to handle multiple projects can actually be more beneficial for your mind and make you more efficient, even though it may sound counterintuitive.

Mini Tip: break larger tasks into bite-sized ones

I am a huge fan of task lists where I can check off items as I complete them. The smaller the items, the quicker I can check them off.

The same goes for if you’re writing content. Consider breaking a blog post into smaller tasks – researching your topic, finding stock photos, creating graphics, etc. This is going to make that large task smaller and easier to digest. End result: less overwhelm.

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Productivity Tip #3: work in sprints

Working in sprints is one of my favorite tips! I used to apply this technique as a fiction writer, and I have also found it helpful in my freelance writing.

Use the Pomodoro Method

The Pomodoro Method is an easy way to turn productivity into game-like goals. It was created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s when he was a university student looking for a better way to study. What he created was a technique that has been used by millions of people around the world.

How it works:

Get yourself a timer. It can be a cute tomato kitchen timer (did you know that “pomodoro” means “tomato” in Italian? I didn’t!) or just an app on your phone. Alternate between 25-minute tasks with 5-minute breaks; every 4 rotations, you get a 15-30 minute break. This helps you stay focused and mentally clear.

The Pomodoro Method is beneficial when you have open-ended tasks, such as researching a blog post or copy topic. If not closely monitored, these tasks could quickly become a time-suck.

Productivity Tip #4: do the most unappealing tasks first

As freelancers, we may encounter tasks we would rather avoid. Tackling them at the beginning of our workday can be beneficial in several ways:

  • It’s helpful to tackle unappealing tasks first to prevent the urge to procrastinate.
  • Completing complex tasks on your to-do list early can help build momentum and create a feeling of accomplishment. This positive attitude can set the tone for the rest of your day and increase motivation.
  • When you deal with unpleasant things, you clear up mental space, which lets you concentrate better on what matters. This also reduces mental clutter caused by constantly thinking about incomplete tasks.
  • You can reduce stress and anxiety by facing your tasks head-on instead of procrastinating, improving your overall well-being. This can help you achieve a sense of relief and develop a more positive and productive mindset.

Mark Twain simplifies this perfectly in his quote …

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

Mark Twain

Mini Tip: prioritize your tasks

During your most productive hours, prioritize your essential tasks. As a freelance copywriter, your main focus should be on the actual writing process, as it requires the most brain power to complete. Save the admin tasks (checking your email) and Pinterest graphics for the end of the day, when you’re likely to be less productive.

Productivity Tip #5: eliminate distractions in your workspace

Communicate your boundaries

Have you ever noticed it’s much easier to “go ask Mom” when working from home? Interruptions from well-meaning family members can be some of the biggest distractions when your office is in your home.

You can focus without the Mom Guilt – it’s a real thing! – by clearly communicating your need for uninterrupted work time.

Manage your social media time

When I say manage your social media time, I’m talking about how much time you spend on each platform. As freelancers, it’s easy to feel pressured to be present on every social media platform.

When you try to be everywhere simultaneously, the following happens:

  1. The amount of time you spend on social media adds up (four platforms means you’re spending four times as long on them).
  2. You spread yourself too thin, giving only a tiny percentage of your focus to each platform.
  3. Growing your social media will take longer without the focused effort.

I love how Joe from The Verge talks about distractions: “But Todoist isn’t going to help you resist the siren call of TikTok, and Trello isn’t going to play catch with the dog. At a certain point, you can only manage your distractions by managing yourself.”

So true!

Thanks to lessons I’ve learned from business coach Maria Wendt, I recommend tackling one platform at a time. Focus all your energy on growing that platform. When it’s reached the goal, move on to another platform and repeat the process.

Mini Tip: use visual cues in your workspace

This is my favorite trick for eliminating distractions, as I’ve been focusing a lot on manifesting. Place visual cues in your workspace that remind you of your goals.

Visual cues could include:

  • A motivational quote (I love this quote from Oprah).
  • A vision board of what your dream job looks like.
  • A to-do list.

Productivity Tip #6: don’t multitask

Many people think that multitasking makes them super productive. “Look at me! I’m working on 8 things at once!” Any mom will tell you that this doesn’t make you more productive.

Multitasking causes stress, anxiety, exhaustion, and overwhelm. Often at the end of the day, your to-do list looks as long as it did when you woke up.

“To do two things at once is to do neither.”

Publilius Syrus, an Iraqi enslaved by the Romans

When you give your brain multiple tasks, it’s impossible to truly focus on them. Because you’re distracted, it also increases the possibility of mistakes.

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Productivity Tip #7: make a to-do list

I know this one sounds stupidly simple, but it’s one of the easiest ways to ensure you’re completing the tasks that need to be done.

Use an app like Todoist

While I am completely in love with my Happy Planner, I still feel the need to make to-do lists on teensy scraps of paper, and then I end up with six scattered throughout the house. Planners are excellent, but last week’s items end up forgotten with the flip of a page. Out of sight, out of mind.

One thing I like about Todoist is the ability to reschedule my tasks. Flexibility is essential to me as a mom (and a new entrepreneur)!

Create projects and lists in Trello

I’ve used Trello as a tool for plotting novels for years and always enjoyed it.

You can use it as a to-do list by making cards for particular tasks. Every card has a deadline, and you can include descriptions, checklists, labels, and attachments.

Both tools have mobile apps which let you edit your lists from anywhere.

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And a few final thoughts …

If you’re a freelancer looking to succeed in your career, it’s essential to be productive. It’s not just about working harder but also working smarter. Focus on motivation and discipline while allowing for flexibility and creativity. With these productivity tips, you can become a confident, efficient freelancer.

Do you have a productivity tip of your own? Share it in the comments section below! Happy blogging, xo!

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16 Comments

  1. Loving these tips for a freelancer as they are perfect for me. Organization is key and creating lists is a must for me! Thank you for sharing and bookmarking to come back to this one!

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