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5 Best Time-Management Tips for Freelancers

5 Best Time-Management Tips for Freelancers

Time is the most precious resource we have, for it cannot be replenished. However, if you are a freelancer, effective time management isn’t simply helpful – it is essential for accomplishing anything at all. A freelancer has to divide attention between several projects from different clients, while simultaneously looking for new work. There are no fixed hours and bosses – a freelancer has to be their own boss, project manager, and accountant. So, how can a freelancer use time more effectively?

1. Stifle Distractions

Distractions are bad enough in the office, but when you work at home, where nobody controls what you are doing but yourself, it is ten times worse. You may think you are responsible and self-interested enough not to waste your time on God-knows-what when you are supposed to work, but the truth is, for most people, complete freedom is too much to handle. You will inevitably sneak a glance or two on your favorite websites, drift to social networks, check your email every five minutes – different people have different favorite distractions, but the Internet is possibly the worst offender. However, with a little bit of determination, you can greatly decrease the amount of harm these distractions cause. Install a browser plugin like LeechBlock to block yourself from visiting the most distracting websites, create a separate profile for work, and uninstall distracting apps from your smartphone.

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2. Track Your Time

We tend to not value our time because we don’t notice how it escapes through our fingers. Time tracking, in addition to its more direct purpose of defining billable hours, can greatly add to your appreciation of time. When you know exactly how much time is spent on this or that activity and have to write down how long you’ve spent on social networks and such, you will suddenly become aware how inefficiently you use your most important resource. Install a time-tracking software like thedailytracker.com and you will be amazed how eager you will be to do more in less time.

3. Choose Clients Carefully

There is only so much one person can do. Therefore, when you get successful enough in your field, there comes a time when you have to start turning down work. It may be painful, especially when you still remember how hard it was to find any work at all, but it is necessary. Smaller projects and projects that don’t go hand in hand with your general line of work just aren’t worth spending time on. The good strategy is to concentrate on several well-paying customers regularly giving you large orders while still looking for better variants.

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4. Schedule Your Distractions

A good way to get rid of distractions during work hours is to allocate some time for them every day, preferably at the same time. When you go through your day with the knowledge that you will have half an hour to spend doing nothing but lazily skimming through your favorite sites, you are less likely to get distracted every five minutes to steal a glance at one of them.

5. Compartmentalize Your Time

The human brain needs time to switch gears from one task to another – for the first 15-30 minutes of working on a particular task, you won’t be functioning at full effectiveness. This means that it is better to break up your time in large blocks dedicated to particular tasks than to switch from one kind of work to another every now and then.

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Being a freelancer is a tough test of your self-control and self-discipline. However, if you are capable of successfully controlling yourself, the difference between a middling and excellent performance will be far greater than with your average 9-to-5 job.

Featured photo credit: time/uditha wickramanayaka via flickr.com

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Melissa Burns

Entrepreneur

Wealthy, Successful People Who Choose Less over More: 10 Real-Life Stories of Minimalists If You Want to Succeed in Life, You Need to Find Your True Calling First Why Do We All Feel Empty Sometimes Everything We Can Learn from the Most Famous Entrepreneurs Around the World YouTube Blogger 4 Pillars of Becoming a Successful YouTube Blogger

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

Have you ever thought of yourself as a problem solver? I’m guessing not. But in reality, we are constantly solving problems. And the better our problem solving skills are, the easier our lives are.

Problems arise in many shapes and forms. They can be mundane, everyday problems, or larger more complex problems:

What to have for dinner tonight?

Which route to take to work?

How to fix a project that’s running behind schedule?

How to change from an uninspiring job to a career you’re really passionate about?

Every day, you’ll be faced with at least one problem to solve. But it gets easier when you realize that problems are simply choices. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about them other than having to make a decision.

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No matter what job you’re in, where you live, who your partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems. Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle. So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you. Everyone wins.

Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important?

Problem is something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with. It can be a task, a situation, or even a person. Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems.

Problem solving is important because we all have decisions to make, and questions to answer in our lives. Amazing people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are all great problems solvers. Good parents, teachers, doctors and waiters all have to be good at solving different sort of problems as well.

Problem solving skills are for our everyday lives.

How to Enhance Problem Solving Skills

Most people believe that you have to be very intelligent in order to be a good problem solver, but that’s not true.

You don’t have to be super smart to be a problem solver, you just need practice.

When you understand the different steps to solve a problem, you’ll be able to come up with great solutions.

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1. Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem

Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.[1] This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

2. Adapt 5 Whys to Clearly Define the Problem

5 Whys is a problem solving framework to help you get to the root of a problem.

By repeatedly asking the question “why” on a problem, you can dig into the root cause of a problem, and that’s how you can find the best solution to tackle the root problem once and for all. And it can go deeper than just asking why for five times.

For example:

If the problem is “always late to work”…

  • Why am I late to work?
    I always click the snooze button and just want to go on sleeping.
  • Why do I want to go on sleeping?
    I feel so tired in the morning.
  • Why do I feel tired in the morning?
    I slept late the night before, that’s why.
  • Why did I sleep late?
    I wasn’t sleepy after drinking coffee, and I just kept scrolling my Facebook feed and somehow I couldn’t stop.
  • Why did I drink coffee?
    Because I was too sleepy at work in the afternoon, not having enough sleep the night before.

So there you see, if you didn’t try to dig out the root of the problem, you may just set a few more alarms and have it beep every five minutes in the morning. But in fact, the problem you need to solve is to quit Facebook surfing endlessly at night so you’ll feel more energetic in the day time, and you won’t even need coffee.

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3. Simplify Things

As human beings, we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it.

Remove all the details and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

4. List out as Many Solutions as Possible

Try to come up with ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions.

Coming from 10 years in the corporate advertising industry, it is drummed into you that ‘No idea is a bad idea’ and this aids creative thinking in brainstorms and other problem-solving techniques.

Whatever you do, do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

5. Think Laterally

Change the ‘direction’ of your thoughts by thinking laterally. Pay attention to the saying,

‘You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.”

Try to change your approach and look at things in a new way. You can try flipping your objective around and looking for a solution that is the polar opposite!

Even if it feels silly, a fresh and unique approach usually stimulates a fresh solution.

6. Use Language That Creates Possibility

Lead your thinking with phrases like ‘what if…’ and ‘imagine if…’ These terms open up our brains to think creatively and encourage solutions.

Avoid closed, negative language such as ‘I don’t think…’ or ‘But this is not right…’.

The Bottom Line

There’s nothing scary about a problem when you start to adapt my advice.

Try not to view problems as ‘scary’ things! If you think about what a problem really is, it’s really just feedback on your current situation.

Every problem is telling you that something is not currently working and that you need to find a new way around it.

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So try to approach problems neutrally – without any judgment. Practice focusing on defining a problem, keep calm and not to make things too complicated.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Planet of Success: Problem vs Solution Focused Thinking

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