Freelancing can truly be a double-edged sword: on one hand, you’re your own boss, you decide your own work hours and you are the sole person responsible for the fruit of your labor. On the other hand, many people simply lack the structure and discipline to hold onto a freelance career with any degree of success.
Of course, structure and discipline are skills that you have to practice like any other, but it’s a lot easier with good advice. Below, we’ll touch on some key points that you need to keep your mind on if you want to be a productive IT freelancer:
Get Rid of Distractions
Distractions are the bane of productivity for IT freelancers. Sitting in front of a computer, it’s very tempting to open your Facebook page or start binge-watching YouTube clips. Some things you can try is keeping all your regular bookmarks out of sight when you’re working, or even log into a completely different computer account for when you’re working. Distractions don’t have to be “computer-generated”, though — having a TV in the background, kids running around or even listening to upbeat music can all be detrimental for your concentration, so it’s best to distance yourself from all of this when you’re trying to get things done.
Keep a “Pick-Me-Up” Close By
If you have a lot on your table, it’s always good to have some sort of pick-me-up to fix you up with that little energy boost you need to keep going once fatigue starts setting in. I personally can’t stand the taste of industrial coffee, so now I buy organic coffee beans and grind them up myself (check this site if you’d like to set yourself up with a quality grinder) — and trust me, there’s nothing like a good cup of quality coffee to keep you going when you start getting tired in the middle of your “shift”. It doesn’t have to be coffee though; green tea works wonders as well, and some people swear by cold sparkling water to shake them awake after long hours of sitting at a desk.
Finally, consider the ergonomics of your workplace. You’re going to be sitting at your desk for long periods of time, so make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. Any back pain, knee pain or neck pain is a bad sign, as well as eye strain. Some pointers are that you should never have a light-source behind your monitor, and it should be just below eye-level. The lumbar area of your spine should always be supported as this does wonders for lower-back pain, which can become a serious problem over time.
Stick to a Schedule
Since you have nobody to supervise you when you’re a freelancer, you’ll have to do a lot of self-supervision, and part of that is creating your own schedule. Create reasonable, realistic deadlines for yourself and stick to them at all times. Using a timer or time-tracking app running in the background that you can throw a glance at every few minutes — even if it’s a fake deadline, running against a clock is still a very effective way to boost productivity.
It can definitely be a challenge to stay productive as a freelancer, for many different reasons — but I sincerely believe that if you pay attention to the four points above, you’re well on your way to solidifying your freelance career. It definitely takes a lot more thought and energy (at least initially) than holding down a day job where you get supervised on a daily basis, but if you play your cards right, being a successful freelancer can truly be an awesome and enlightening experience.