If you’re working in an office, it’s always good to strive to be productive. The more you get things done, the less stress you’ll have in the long run. Consider this. If you finish a report two days before your boss’ deadline, you won’t find yourself in a position where you have to bang at your keyboard at 2 a.m. just to get it done in time for that big meeting. In short, you’re happy, and your employer is happy. What if you’re working on an online freelance job, do the rules still apply? Actually, they definitely do, but to a greater degree.
Tips for Those who Work on Online Freelance Job
If you’re handling several projects for various clients, the chances of deadlines overlapping are higher. This means to get things done, you need to manage your time even more efficiently than a normal person who reports to the office from 8 to 5. How can you work more efficiently on an online freelance job then? In this article, we’ll look at several concrete strategies to up your productivity.
Practice the MIT Method
No, don’t be spooked. You don’t have to go all the way to Massachusetts to learn this method. Kidding aside, the MIT method is not as complicated as it sounds. MIT stands for the most important things.
Practicing the MIT method basically means prioritizing what’s important.
This is actually a no-brainer. Say have an article due by the end of the day and were asked to write a letter for an industry event next month. It would be wiser to spend the first hours of your day writing that article your client will definitely chase up later on today.
To do this, create a master list of everything you need to do by the end of the week. Break that down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals. When working, always be guided by those goals. You can monitor the time you spend on a task with a clock timer app.
This is so you can manage your time efficiently, as well as making billing clients by the hour easier. If you need more ideas on how to manage your time, read this article about various time management strategies.
As German poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
Do Away With Distractions
Let’s face it. Distractions are a real productivity killer. According to Udemy’s 2018 Workplace Distraction Report, 54% of workers believe they are not performing as well as they should because of these.
20% say they are not able to reach their full potential and advance in their careers as a result.
Technology is still the top distraction for employees. According to the surveys, 52% of employees are distracted by texting in the workplace. This is followed by the Internet at 44%, and by gossip at 37%. Social media is in fourth place, at 36%.
The fact that you work on an online freelance job and don’t report to the office does not mean you are no longer vulnerable to these distractions. In fact, you might be even more so since, unlike in the office, you have no supervisor looking over your shoulder all the time.
The good thing is, these distractions can be addressed. All you need is a bit of discipline. For example, you can turn off your phone while you’re writing an article, and limit yourself to looking at it during your breaks.
The same goes for the Internet and social media. As for gossip, well, just pick a nice quiet place to write so you no one will disturb you. That means not spending your whole day talking to the barista in Starbucks.
Use the Eisenhower Matrix
Sometimes, you have so many things to do that you don’t even know where to start. In those situations, the best thing to do is to organize yourself. The Eisenhower matrix is one way to do this.
On a piece of paper, make a 2×2 square. Write down the word “important” and “not important” on one axis.
On the other axis, write “urgent” and “not urgent.” In the first box, write “do,” in the second “plan,” in the third “delegate,” and in the fourth, “eliminate.” You will have something like this:
Now all you need to do is write down your tasks on the corresponding square based on urgency and importance. If your task is urgent and critical, then go ahead and add it to “do.” If it’s not urgent but still important, then write it under “plan.” In case it’s urgent and not important, “delegate” (or for most an online freelance job, plan for much later since there’s no one to delegate it to). If the task is not urgent and not important, then you can “eliminate” it from your to-do list.
With the Eisenhower matrix, you can make sure you don’t fall into the trap of doing things that are important but not urgent, as most people are liable to do.
Follow Pareto on Online Freelance Job
You may have heard of the Pareto principle, which basically states that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. Applied in this case, 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts.
To be efficient, all you need to do is identify the most important 20% of your work and do it. You then look for ways to cut down the other 80% by doing things that have the most impact overall.
Here’s another way to use the Pareto principle.
Identify two 15 minute blocks of your time within your day when you are being less productive. If you change the way you use these two small blocks of time, with the Pareto principle, you should be able to increase your personal productivity by a whopping 80%.
Break Down Tasks
Sometimes, people procrastinate because they become too overwhelmed with what they have to do.
For instance, the task of writing a blog post on being efficient can be scary for some. Doubly so when they think of the mental effort they’d need to exert for hours in front of a computer.
This is why breaking down tasks can make all the difference. When people see smaller tasks on their to-do list, the natural tendency is for them to think they are not as difficult to do. When they think it’s not so difficult to do, they immediately start doing them.
So how do you break down tasks? Let’s go back to our example. Here’s how a breakdown of the “writing a blog post on being efficient” task would look:
Research keywords related to efficiency, time management, and productivity
Read the top 10 Google results
List down other strategies to be efficient that you can think of
Create an outline
Strategies should be in bullet points
Each strategy should have a brief description
Reread outline and elaborate on each strategy
Note that each point should be very specific. Remember, the idea is to make a hard task seem easy to do, so you will be inspired to start it right away. Also, follow the breakdown to the letter to ensure quality output.
Automate Online Freelance Job Tips and Use Shortcuts
There’s no denying technology has made life easier for people. Gone are the days when writers would have to go to the library to look for resources for their piece. The Internet has made it easier for them to access these resources with a click of the mouse.
To send their work, all they need to do is access their email, Facebook, WhatsApp, or any other app, you name it. The bottom line is, what took days to finish can now be finished in hours.
Online freelance jobs are obviously already taking advantage. Hence their job title. But to become more efficient, they should also know the nitty-gritty of each technology.
So for example, those using Google Docs can use “command + shift + t” to open a recently closed tab or “command + option + 2” to create a heading. Those looking for backlinks can use the “site: keyword” shortcut on Google, so they can save a lot of time.
No need to go to a chosen website and go through the blog posts one by one.
And then there are the newer technologies online freelancers can take advantage of to finish their tasks outside of writing. So, for example, instead of manually auditing expenses to check their financial status, they can use accounting software.
Freelance writers can also use content audit tools to take the work out of helping clients with their strategy.
Less time spent on these tasks means more time allotted for writing – their bread and butter.
How to Work More Efficiently as an Online Freelancer
In the first part of the article, we explored the importance of being efficient. Efficiency is good not only for 9-5 workers and their employers but also for the online freelance job provider and their clients.
We looked at seven actionable strategies an online freelancer can use to work more efficiently. Some of these are frameworks, like the MIT method, the Pareto principle, and the Eisenhower matrix. Those who work on an online freelance job can also do away with distractions, break down tasks and automate and use shortcuts.
The bottom line is this: the traits of being productive and efficient are not inherent in a person. They can be learned. Follow these tips, and you’ll have yourself working like a well-oiled machine in no time.