5 Freelance Productivity Tips

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on March 17, 2010 in Productivity & Organization
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A lot of people email me. They are like, "Clint. You should probably pay your credit card bill." They're unprofessional emails, and I refuse to deal with a bank that can't personally call me and ask me nicely if I'd like to give them money as a gift since they're having a tough time this month.

But those aren't the emails I want to talk about. I also get a lot of emails from people who are just starting out freelancing. They want to know how to stay on task and get their stuff done. It's tough being your own boss. So here's a few ideas on how to keep yourself motivated and working.

  1. Keep the TV on in the background. There is nothing like sitting on your laptop slamming out an article while distracting things happen in the background. Sometimes, I get so productive with this method that my jaw goes slack with my brilliance. Sometimes, I will produce up to a quarter of an article per day with this clever little tip. Additionally, you should put on your favorite movie. I find it motivating.
  2. Take frequent breaks every five to ten minutes. I suggest the following sites: Gawker, Facebook, Wikipedia, TV Tropes, or any given webcomic that has been online for longer than five years. If you take a break every five to ten minutes, then you keep your brain fresh. Be sure to take a break that is at least 30 minutes long. You need the rest!
  3. Leave the chat programs on. You may have a 5 PM deadline today, but you don't want to sacrifice your social life. That's why it's always a good time to fire up AIM, GChat, and Skype so that you can stay in the loop with all your buds. Remember, you may not have left your house in six months, but there's no reason why you can't have a shallow and brief conversation with each of your friends who happen to be online at work. This is known as networking because you are on a network.
  4. Multitask with involved chores. While you're writing, there is no reason why you cannot do a little sprucing up of the homestead. I'm not talking about amateur errands like laundry or groceries either–you ought to spend time on intensive projects like scrubbing the grout in your bathroom, refinishing your floors by hand, producing an intricate mosaic tile pattern in your kitchen, or adding a rec room to your house. Personally, I am a fan of custom-making wooden furniture for my house. These are all projects you can do as a quick little break from your ever-increasing stack of projects to complete.
  5. Surf the web mindlessly. If you have something really important to do, here's what I would suggest you do. Look at your email inbox, sigh sadly, then turn to your browser (Firefox is best, but you can easily make do with Internet Explorer or Safari). Type in random phrases or try to find a website you visited once seven years ago. Please note that this is different from tip #2 because I needed to come up with five tips but then it turns out I hadn't seen the latest episode of Caprica so I put that on first, and now I am making a quality article.

These tips will make you ultimately more productive. Hammer away at these five points (which are totally five points and not four stretched out to be five) until you're a successful freelancer. Shower me with praise via email.

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Clint Osterholz is a freelance writer who thinks he's awfully funny, and is surprisingly not a disappointment to his parents. You're always free to check out his portfolio if you'd like someone to be funny, or maybe write something a little more serious. Subscribe to my posts (only posts from this author).

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12 Comments

  1. Jenn Mattern March 17, 2010 Reply

    LOL Great as usual Clint.

    1. I actually do sometimes work better w/ background noise. :P

    2. You just reminded me that I’m supposed to scrub my bathroom grout this weekend. Blah.

    3. I actually also do like to design and build furniture. I just never have the time these days. Maybe you just solved my problem! :D

  2. Jessie Haynes March 17, 2010 Reply

    You bitch, stepping on my territory (productivity) like that. Haha, I jest. I love your writing, Clint, and say that these tips are excellent for any writer looking to emails like yours XP

    Seriously though, a little background noise is nice, some of that mindless Web surfing leads to ideas for articles, etc, and sometimes networking really is happening.

    Of course, we gotta know the difference between those things actually helping and us just justifying them.

  3. Matt Willard March 17, 2010 Reply

    Loved that first joke. Unexpected and sharp, just how I like it. I gotta remember to keep it that tight in my own writing.

  4. Well darn, I hoped to find a bank… sigh. Chuckling and like Jenn I often have something going on in background. Not sure why, but it seems to work for me.

  5. Author
    Clint March 17, 2010 Reply

    I do great with music in the background. The problem is that when I first started freelancing, I would have on Food Network all day. At the end of the month, I was two weeks behind deadline on one project but I knew how to make pasta all’arrabbiata.

  6. LaToya Irby March 17, 2010 Reply

    I need background noise too and frequent breaks. That’s probably why I didn’t catch the joke until halfway through #3.

  7. Lucy Smith March 17, 2010 Reply

    I need quiet when I work. That’s why I never did well in an office environment. The other day I was just getting into something difficult and the neighbour fired up his lawnmower – in went the earplugs (and I may have said some naughty words).

    Funny how I posted on almost the exact same topic yesterday – though I fear mine is less amusing, and I might come across as an unfocused dreamer ;-)

  8. Yo Prinzel
    Yo Prinzel March 17, 2010 Reply

    I do not work better with background noise. Even music–it has to be something I already know so well I almost don’t even hear it. I have ADD and am easily distracted by moving pictures, colored lights and musical tinkling.

  9. Author
    Clint March 17, 2010 Reply

    And keys, Yo. Car keys, house keys, all sorts of keys.

  10. Jennifer Mattern March 17, 2010 Reply

    @Yo – That’s why Murder She Wrote eps in the background is perfect for me. Lansbury’s voice is calming somehow, but since I already know them inside and out, I don’t actually feel inclined to pay attention to them while they’re on.

    @Clint – You inspired me to build a shoe rack today. Yay. Didn’t design it though — just went out and bought a unit. Then a piece was f*ed up, so I had to make a trip to the hardware store only to find out the guy didn’t even know wtf the piece was (I did… had to explain it to him which wasted even more time). They didn’t have the size I needed, so I bought some makeshift dowels and hacked them down to the right width, and they’ll work, but MORE time wasted getting creative about it. *sigh* Some days I just can’t win. On a positive note, it’s finished. On a not so positive note, now I’m too tired to put my shoes on it. :)

    @Lucy – Oh, lawnmowers must die! The community here has a team come in with those heavy friggin’ duty ones, about 3 going at once, and then the weed whackers closer to the buildings. Sadly earplugs wouldn’t even block those buggers out. All spring and summer long I’m going to want to throw someone under one. The worst part? They always seem to know when I have a conference call planned. Never fails.

  11. Issa March 19, 2010 Reply

    Gee, you have an unorthodox way of motivating yourself in being the most efficient worker you can be. Interesting. Can’t help to LOL at item #1. It can get me real distracted though. I love your creative thoughts, Clint. Thanks!

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