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How To Become A More Efficient Freelancer: Tips for Staying Focused and Productive

How To Become A More Efficient Freelancer: Tips for Staying Focused and Productive

Unbeknownst to many, freelancing is a challenging career path. It’s easy to get fooled by the flexible hours, freedom, and a seemingly endless amount of “free” time that most freelancers seem to enjoy. But unlike colleagues in the 8-5 day job that have a guaranteed check every month’s end, freelancers need a lot more than the willpower to wake up every morning and go to work.

To make ends meet as a freelancer, you must cultivate sharp focus and discipline in order to stay productive throughout the day. Freelancers are more likely to get distracted by small things, especially when working at home. Loud TVs, household chores, kids, idle friends, and a long list of other distractions can easily break concentration and keep you further from your goals.

So, how can you stay focused and productive in the face of all these challenges? Read on for tips on how to grow and establish yourself as an efficient, high-achieving freelancer.

1. Set A Work Routine & Stick To It

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    Setting a regular work schedule will help you separate work and play and become a more successful freelancer. A routine enables you to avoid burnout, sleepless nights, missed deadlines, and unproductive days when working as a freelancer. When making a routine, assign the toughest jobs to times of the day when you are most creative.

    Though work schedules and routines vary, a typical routine should look something like:

    • 5:30 am: Wake up
    • 6:00 – 7:00 am: Emails, catching up on news
    • 7:00 – 11:00 am: Work
    • 11:00 am – 2:00 pm: Gym, lunch, social media, emails
    • 2:00 – 7:00 pm: Work
    • 7:00 – 10:00 pm: Family
    • 10:30 pm: Bedtime

    Of course, this can be amended to fit individual lifestyles but, as a rule of thumb, always ensure that at least 60% of your day is committed to productivity.

    2. Manage Distractions

    manage-distractions

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      One of the major challenges of being your own boss is managing distractions, especially if you are working from home. Family, chores, TV, and the general temptation to lounge at home can keep you away from achieving your goals. Getting an affordable shared office space can be a good option to avoid such distractions, especially if it’s impossible to establish a No Distractions Zone in the house.

      Apart from the physical distractions, you can also get hooked to unproductive internet habits. We all know the pitfalls of the cat video conundrum: once you watch the first cat video, you must watch ALL cat videos. Thankfully, there are tons of software you can use to block web-based distractions, including Cold Turkey, Self Control (for Mac), and the chrome extension, Stay Focusd, which gives you time limits to certain addictive sites.

      Your phone can also be a source of distraction, especially after blocking yourself away from your computer. Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” to prevent unnecessary distractions while working.

      3. Make Time To Work Out

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        Your work schedule should make time for some form of physical activity. Prolonged durations of sitting have been associated with numerous health problems, including metabolic syndrome and obesity. Working out, even in its simplest form, helps to rejuvenate the body and give you a fresh perspective of the task at hand. For instance, a 10-minute workout was recently shown to be just as effective as longer workouts of moderate intensity.

        Physical activities also help to improve brain power and boost problem-solving skills, thanks to the rush of oxygen and nutrients into the brain when your heart rate goes up.

        4. Reward Yourself 

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          Cultivating a good reward system will not only help you breathe between tasks, but will also give you something to look forward to when working on a task. It acts as a good self-motivational system that can help you tackle the most difficult of tasks. Set small milestones and a reward for each completed milestone, for instance, a chocolate bar after every two blog posts.

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          Don’t forget to relax after a long day of work. Pour yourself a glass of wine or pop open a bottle of beer while reflecting on the day’s accomplished tasks.

          There are so many measures different people take to become productive and focused as freelancers. The key is finding what works for you through trial and error and making it part of your daily freelancing ritual to ensure maximum productivity and efficiency when working at home.

          Featured photo credit: freepik via freepik.com

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          Vikas Agrawal

          Vikas is the co-founder of Infobrandz, an Infographic design agency that offers creative visual content solutions to medium to large companies.

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          Last Updated on November 3, 2020

          20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

          20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

          Whether you use your Mac for work or just for your personal projects, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to improve your productivity. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much mental stamina you can muster before you run out.

          There are dozens of tricks you can use to improve your own productivity and outlook, but if you’re looking for a more objective, comprehensive fix, the best thing to do is equip your Mac with productivity apps designed to help you do more in less time.

          This Lifehack-exclusive list has some of the best productivity apps to help you feel less tired, improve your energy, and ultimately help you get more done every day.

          What Makes For the Best Productivity Apps?

          Beyond productivity tips, there are dozens of productivity apps to choose from too. With that in mind, here are some of the core aspects of ideal productivity apps that have formed this list.

          • Non-intrusive – you want a productivity app to weave seamlessly into your workflow and not cause disruptions. From using the app to the overall display, it shouldn’t cause any interruptions.
          • Good interface – Again, you want to be able to use these apps easily and have them benefit you. The easier you can navigate around these apps, the better.
          • Fair pricing – Many of these have free trials that allow you a good chance to test before you buy. If you do decide to pay for it, the monthly pricing plans should be reasonable for what you are getting.

          1. Todoist

            Available for all iOS devices, Todoist is a note-taking and organization app that can keep you on top of all your projects—both personal and professional.

            Its best features are all free to use, including browser extensions, task creation, and interactive boards you can use to organize all your notes.

            If you want to pay the optional $29 yearly fee, you can get even more advanced features like backups and automatic reminders. Even with the free version, you’ll stay far more organized.

            Download: Todoist

            2. 1Password

              You may not realize it, but you probably spend a ton of time recalling your passwords, especially if and when you forget one to an app you use on a regular basis.

              1Password is an app for Mac that saves and remembers all your passwords for you in one place, so you can access all your favorite sites with a single click.

              You’ll save time and keep all your accounts secure simultaneously. A personal plan is $2.99 per month.

              Download: 1Password

              3. Bear

                Bear is a unique kind of note-taking app designed to make it easier for Mac users to jot down notes on the go. With it, you can create to-do lists, give yourself reminders, and outline concepts for future brainstorming sessions.

                It comes with many different inline styles so you can customize your notes to your personal preferences, and remember the context in which you wrote them. The core version is free, with a $14.99 per year version available as well.

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                Download: Bear

                4. Hazel

                  Hazel by noodlesoft is an automated organization tool designed for Mac that will help you automatically organize your files based on any custom rules you want to create.

                  For example, you can set it to move untouched items from one folder into another folder labeled “action items” if they haven’t been addressed within a week. It can save you hours of organization over the course of a few weeks. A single license is a flat $32.

                  Download: noodlesoft

                  5. Alfred

                    Alfred is an all-in-one app designed to save you time with Mac shortcuts and convenient custom actions. You can use it in a variety of ways.

                    For example, you can access Alfred’s clipboard memory so you don’t copy and paste the same material over and over, or set up custom workflows to automate some of your most repetitive tasks.

                    It’s a paid app, with multiple price points based on the features you desire.

                    Download: Alfred

                    6. TextExpander

                      TextExpander does exactly what the name suggests; it allows you to type a short snippet of text, and expand that text automatically.

                      For example, you can create a custom expansion that allows you to conjure a full paragraph you type repeatedly by simply typing a unique abbreviation. Once you get used to your custom combinations, you’ll spare your fingers from typing thousands of words.

                      An individual account is $3.33 per month.

                      Download: TextExpander

                      7. Backblaze

                        If you’ve ever experienced a crash, or theft of your Mac, you know how much time a system restore can cost you. You’ll spend hours replacing the files you lost, and lose thousands of files that are irreplaceable.

                        Backblaze is an automated, inexpensive way to back up your entire Mac for just $5 a month.

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                        Download: Backblaze

                        8. Keyboard Maestro

                          Keyboard Maestro is an older app that still has the power to make your life easier. With it, you can automate any number of tasks based on a certain trigger (such as a hotkey combination, or an event like connecting to a wireless network). A single license only costs $36.

                          Download: Keyboard Maestro

                          9. Snagit

                            There are many applications for a good screen-capture app, whether you’re trying to illustrate a tech problem you have or just want to make an interesting meme. Snagit makes it easy, with built-in editing for both still images and video. A single license covers two machines, and costs $49.95.

                            Download: TechSmith/Snagit

                            10. Bartender

                              Bartender is the cleverly-named app that helps you clean up and organize all your menu bar icons. You can also access them quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

                              If you’re like most Mac users, those icons get cluttered quickly and stop you from working efficiently. It’s free to try for 4 weeks, after which you’ll need a $15 license.

                              Download: Bartender

                              11. Otter

                              Otter is the Mac app for the note taker who hates typing. It’s an intelligent voice-recognition system and note-taking app that will help you transcribe your conversations, keep notes during meetings, and even take contextual notes to yourself in your own time.

                              Best of all, it’s free to get started!

                              Download: Otter

                              12. Flux

                                Do you often find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, or feeling unable to get to sleep after a day of staring at your computer? That could be because of the unnatural blue light that radiates from your Mac.

                                Flux naturally adapts your display to emit light that matches the time of day, so you can sleep better and feel less tired. It’s also free!

                                Download: Flux

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                                13. PDFpen

                                If you deal with PDFs on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wishing for some kind of tool that can let you mark up those PDFs however you want. Without a dedicated app like PDFpen, this can be difficult.

                                PDFpen lets you edit PDFs in almost any conceivable way, giving you more power and saving you time. A single license is $74.95.

                                Download: Smile Software/PDFpen

                                14. OmniFocus

                                  OmniFocus is all about task management. It has a clean interface that allows you to tag your tasks, schedule events, and even automate certain features.

                                  It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market, so there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it.

                                  A standard license is $39.99, while the pro version is $79.99.

                                  Download: OmniFocus

                                  15. Franz

                                    It’s tiring to switch between dozens of different chat programs like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and WhatsApp, whenever you want to have a conversation with a different contact.

                                    Franz’s solution is simple; offer access to all these apps in one convenient package. And best of all, it’s completely open source.

                                    Download: Franz

                                    16. MindNode

                                      If you’re the brainstorming type, you need an app like MindNode to help you efficiently organize your thoughts. There are dozens of tools you can use to connect ideas in a mind map, or simply jot down notes for future reference.

                                      The core app is free, with in-app purchases available.

                                      Download: MindNode

                                      17. Focus

                                        The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be awfully distracting. And if you’re like the majority of us, you’ve interrupted work on a project because of some attention-grabbing site or bad online habit. That’s where Focus comes in.

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                                        This app allows you to block the worst offenders with custom time limits and other constraints, so you can focus on the task at hand. A single license is $19.99.

                                        Download: Focus

                                        18. CleanMyMac

                                          Chances are, your Mac isn’t working as fast as it could, thanks to gigabytes of clutter and unnecessary files on your system. CleanMyMac helps you scan your Mac, monitor its health, and ultimately clean it up—so you can handle all your tasks that extra bit faster. A single license is $39.95.

                                          Download: CleanMyMac

                                          19. Grammarly

                                            A spelling error or grammatical mistake can cost you big time. It could be the source of a worse grade on a big paper, or compromise your credibility in the workplace. Thankfully, Grammarly can help you.

                                            This Mac-integrated writing assistant monitors all your writing and makes live corrections, so you’re alerted to your potential mistakes before they become permanent.

                                            A free version exists, but the premium version will cost you between $11 and $30 a month, depending on how you pay.

                                            Download: Grammarly

                                            Focus To Do

                                              Focus to-do is one of the top productivity apps for your iPhone around. It even has a desktop client that you can connect to effortlessly. The app is built around two things: the Pomodoro technique and task management. It achieves these things with amazing balance. All that you have to do is create a task and then set the timer right within the app itself.

                                              There is also great flexibility with the Pomodoro technique as well. You can choose whether to take a 5 minute break, take a longer one, or even skip it. On the task management side, you can also create reoccurring tasks, reminders, and place a priority on tasks too.

                                              Download: Focus To Do

                                              The Bottom Line

                                              These productivity apps should help you squeeze more productive hours out of every day, but they aren’t the only tools you’ll have to help you find success.

                                              Make the time to learn about and experiment with all the life hacks that can make you more productive. By improving your devices as well as your outlook and focus, you’ll be able to get far more done in a day, and feel better doing it.

                                              More to Boost Productivity

                                              Featured photo credit: Patrick Ward via unsplash.com

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