In an age where many of us have been working from home for over 6 months, the lifestyle of a freelancer may seem more appealing than ever. After all, you’ve probably (by necessity) already mastered the skills that are necessary to work productively from home. Why not take advantage of the extra freedom, autonomy and sense of purpose that freelancing affords? Nonetheless, while you may think yourself perfectly equipped to make a rewarding and lucrative career as a freelancer, living this way is to truly take the training wheels off. You will either survive or thrive based on your productivity. It’s your responsibility to wring the most out of every working day and remain consistently productive. No boss will be checking up on your work. No line manager will brief you with the day/ week’s work. You’ll be solely responsible for sourcing your own work, building a strong client base and delivering the operational excellence that keeps them coming back.
And that means you need to be at your peak in terms of organization, both digital and physical. If your working days as a freelancer are long, frustrating and less profitable than they should be, it may be because a lack of organization is holding you back. More specifically…
You’re not making use of automation tools
As a freelancer, you need to spend as much time as possible doing the things you get paid for. But at the same time, you know that your responsibilities do not end there. You need to invest in advertising your brand and building a reputation upon which you can build a client base. You need to do your own book keeping and other admin to keep yourself tax compliant. You need to create, send and chase invoices. And all of this administration can seriously eat into your billable hours. Fortunately, there are a wealth of digital tools that allow you to automate your way to more productive, more focused and less stressful working days. For instance, you can save time every day with Google Ads scripts, so you can get your name out there without giving up your valuable time. You can use all kinds of automated bookkeeping and accounting tools to make tax compliance easy. You can use the same solutions to generate faster and more uniform invoices. So you spend less time working hard and more time working smart (and profitably).
Your desk is disorganized
Even something as simple as the state of your desk can have a prodigious effect on your productivity as a freelancer. And you may be able to convince yourself that it’s actually your highly idiosyncratic filing system… but honey, I’ve heard it all before. And what you have on your desk is clutter-plain and simple! Clutter is never conducive to a productive, harmonious and profitable working day. It’s visually distracting, for one thing, constantly interrupting your train of thought. It can slow down your working processes (be honest-how long have you spent looking for the piece of paper you were sure was under your coffee coaster?). Furthermore, clutter can actually exacerbate stress and make it harder for you to stay focused. Something as simple as a desk tidy, in out tray or some sort of filing system for your paperwork can make a huge difference in how productive (and profitable) your days can be. In short, there’s no way a freelancer can have an optimally productive working day with a desk that looks like a bomb’s hit it!
You’re not organizing your time effectively
You start the day with the very best of intentions. But in your zeal, you make the mistake of diving headlong into your work every morning without the slightest idea of how you’re going to spend your day. You just plough into one task after another after another until either your workload is finished or your partner calls you away from your desk because the work day was over 3 hours ago and it’s time for dinner. The last thing you should do every day is plan the day after. Work out what you’re going to do in 2-3 hour increments, and ensure that you plan meaningful breaks throughout your working day. Your brain is just like any other part of your body. It gets tired and needs to rest. You wouldn’t spend 2 hours at the gym doing nothing but bench presses, right? So make sure you make time to put your brain on ice while you enjoy a walk or a coffee. You may find that using software like Asana helps you to break your day down into discrete tasks and mark them down as you go.
When it comes to making the most out of your days as a freelancer, a little organization can go a very long way!