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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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          Published on September 20, 2018

          11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

          11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

          In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

          Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

          In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

          Minimizing Tabs

          Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

          Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

          Incognito Mode

          Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

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          1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
          2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
          3. Download extension New Incognito Window

          This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

          Save Webpages as PDF Files

          Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

          Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

          Open Recently-closed Tabs

          Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

          One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

          The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

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          Solve Mathematical Problems

          Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

          For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

          Play Media Files

          Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

          In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

          Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

          With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

          Stay Focus(e)d

          Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

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          Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

          With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

          This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

          Grammarly for Editing

          Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

          You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

          Loom

          There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

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          There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

          With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

          Chrome Calendar Extension

          No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

          Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

          Final Thoughts

          Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

          Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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