One of the biggest benefits to a freelancer or someone who works at home is the freedom to work whenever you want. The problem is, it’s a slippery slope from one simple and seemingly harmless bad habit and can have long term effects on your productivity and success.
What can you do to help stay in control of your workflow and on course to meet deadlines and please clients?
Use Project Management Tools Where Necessary
We all need help to stay on top of any work project, and despite the claims of many people I’ve known over the years who claim to keep everything in their head no problem, the last thing you want to do is forget an important detail about a job.
There are a multitude of free online project management tools which can help you stay organised. You should realistically have a list of any potential clients with their full information, any helpful hints relating to them personally if you’ve spoken to them before (asking how the family is, latest holiday etc), or business information relating to their latest launch or service. Every little bit helps build a relationship.
Project management tools will also help you stay on track with your latest projects, creating alerts and signposts to reach to ensure you are on time and on track to meet your deadline. There are a lot of small things that make up any project so why take the risk of missing something vital?
Stay Focused with a Clear Workspace
This might seem obvious but it is tempting to just work wherever you land as someone who works from their laptop. Of course, if you have a great idea and the laptop or notepad is handy whilst you lie in bed or sit on the sofa then use it, but don’t get into a routine of working in an area usually retained for leisure and relaxation time.
Blurring the boundaries between your social and work life is a dangerous habit and will be counter- productive to both as you end up doing neither very well. If you have the space at home then clear it out and make it your designated and dedicated workspace.
A home office or work area provides an environment geared towards working rather than distraction and you are more likely to knuckle down to the tasks at hand rather than turn your head towards the television or have an afternoon nap. The flexibility to do such things when they are required is a nice option but should never be the norm.
Stick to Defined Hours as Much as Possible
Again, the 9-5 office hours many of us are used to can feel like a ball and chain, but a completely loose structure with no defined working hours can lead to mayhem and a breakdown of productivity.
Most people, when they become self employed take advantage of the freedom and actually work longer hours. It’s much more satisfying to work on something you’ve built from scratch, even if it takes working evenings and weekends in places, than work for someone else with minimum praise in an office job.
When you’ve worked out your optimum working hours outline a working day and week, make a timetable if it helps. Working from home allows you the chance to work around this if you need to but the best workers are those who sit down with purpose and a finish line in sight. If you just work when you feel like it you’ll quickly discover how easy it is to miss deadlines.
Invigorate Your Senses with a Fresh New Workspace Occasionally
Creativity can become stunted leading to a decrease in productivity if you don’t keep things fresh. All of the above tips are fantastic to build an organised working structure. As someone who works from home you’re free to work within the boundaries you’ve created and to also think outside the box from time to time.
Coworking facilities are a hotbed of creative thinking and like-minded individuals. They provide you with a place to work with others without being tied to an office full time. Freshening things up and booking sessions at a coworking facility allows you the chance to be inspired by fellow freelancers and business owners, forge new business relationships and find that creative spark that might have gone missing from your latest task at home. Give it a go and see how stimulating coworking can be for your senses and your productivity.