Do you struggle with meeting deadlines or getting freelance work done effectively?
It is a myth that extraordinary work must be a strung out and laborious process.
Getting the same if not better quality work done, in a more efficient way is the name of the game. Forget everything you think you know about how things have to be when you’re working.
Learning how to get more work done in a shorter period of time will allow you to expand on your skill sets and continue to grow and further develop.
You know the cliche’, work smarter, not harder.
Here’s how to get it done:
1. Work in bursts
Our society has come up with this insane concept that to be a “good worker” we have to put in 8-10 hours of work with little to no breaks.
Well guess what?
That’s nonsense and our brains don’t work that way.
In reality, the perfect way for humans to work is in short bursts. The length of time worked vs when a break is needed does vary from person to person but it’s not up for debate that is the best strategy.
Ideally, you should sit down to start a project and give yourself a period of time of uninterrupted work. This could be for 45 minutes to an hour straight. Then, force yourself to take a break for a set period of time as well, like a 15 minute break.
Breaking up your time like this prevents your mind and body from becoming fatigued (bored). It removes the chance of “working solely for the sake of working” and ensures that you maintain a high quality of production.
Doing so will also greatly lower the chance of getting burnt out from your work and losing motivation for future freelance clients.
2. Get rid of distractions
In this day and age, we are surrounded by more external stimulus than ever. Especially electronically.
Television, the internet, our phones; These devices are causing our attention spans to shrink as they grow and develop.
These micro distractions might seem harmless at first. Checking Facebook once or twice is quick and completely harmless right?
They do way more damage than you might think, in two huge ways specifically.
- Stopping in the middle of productive work, no matter how quickly, interrupts your flow of work and your brain’s thought process. Once you’re in a good work flow and you get distracted, it’s like having to reset and get sent back to go in monopoly. Your brain has to find where it was, re assess the situation, and understand where it was to get back.
- Second, it’s a huge waste of time. Those small moments add up to a ton of wasted time in the end and so it’s crucial to get work done first, then play.
In order to get great work done efficiently and effectively you have to remove these distractions and all others to set yourself up for success. This can’t be done in the moment. It has to be planned.
When you’re about to get any kind of work done you need to have the following conditions met:
- Work in the same place every time. This will train your mind and body to associate that work space with getting things done and helps you mentally prepare yourself to start working.
- Leave the cell phone behind. Turn off phone notifications for the time period that you’re getting the bulk of your work done. Any conversations that might happen can wait, but your work can’t.
- No social media. Don’t have any extra tabs open for any social sites on your computer. Heck, work on a piece of paper and pen if you can’t control yourself. But make sure you don’t make it easy for yourself to click over and get distracted.
Removing distractions helps get higher quality work done more quickly.
3. Write down clear objectives with set time limits
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins
Truer words were never spoken.
As a freelancer, sometimes it can seem like you’re working in circles or aimlessly taking stabs in the dark at what you’re trying to accomplish because you don’t have a set and measurable end point in mind.
Before you get started with any task, first take time to write down and understand what the finish line looks like. Ask yourself what does success look like to you in that moment and what you have to check off before you can consider yourself done.
This will give your work purpose and the direction that you need to stay on task until you finish. It’s more about knowing when you’re done than knowing if you did a good job or not.
You’ve also got to give yourself realistic, yet challenging time constraints with any work that you do.
- Break your work down into individual steps that are realistic to achieve and that encompass the entire project.
- Give each step a realistic time limit. Add up those times and then take a little bit off the total (to push yourself).
- Spread that total out for the amount of days you think it should take you.
Now you’ve got a road map for achievement.
This is important because the human mind is good at adapting to the amount of time it’s given to figure something out in the best way. If you don’t have a set time limit for yourself then you run the risk of allowing yourself to procrastinate or not use your time as effectively.
But on the flip side, if you plan for a little bit less time than you thought possible, you’ll likely rise to the occasion.
Go ahead, surprise yourself.
4. You’ve got to innovate
To continually rise above your current limits and be great at anything you’ve got to always question your way of doing things and try new methods.
If you’re finding yourself getting frustrated with your work and stagnating, it’s likely because the models of what you’re doing are outdated, or not working for you anymore.
Every new project should be met with experimentation and reiteration.
This could be done by..
- Using a new word processing program
- Getting the advice from an online course
- Using new ad copy that you’ve never tried before for a marketing campaign
- Working in a new work area
- Eating a new breakfast for the week
Whatever the new variable is, you have to introduce new methods for growth to happen.
Each time you introduce a new variable, keep all others the same, and be sure to accurately measure the impact of the new technique and your end results.
Keep the influences that make you more productive and effective and remove the ones that didn’t help or made you worse.
Did it help? Should you stay away from that in the future? Do you need to test it again?
Asking yourself these questions will make sure that you aren’t changing things only for the sake of being different, but more often than not, you’ll find that switching things up allows you to innovate and think more creatively about problems that you’re having.
It allows helps keep you motivated and breaks up any inherent monotony that might start creeping up when you do a specific kind of work for too long.
Humans are like a computer with an operating system.
When you’re trying to effectively get work done with a bad or old system, you’re going to do it slowly and with struggle.
But when you have brand new, constantly updating software, with a specific and well thought out system that’s taken care of properly, great things will happen.