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8 Signs That You Have a Crappy Work Schedule as a Freelancer

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8 Signs That You Have a Crappy Work Schedule as a Freelancer

Being a freelancer is truly a great career path. I mean, you have the freedom to decide when you want to work, and even how much work you actually want to do. However, it’s no fairytale—like every profession, it still has its pros and cons. For instance, the thing I want to talk about today is having a truly crappy work schedule. The worst part is that most of the time you’re not even aware that you have this problem… at least I wasn’t.

work schedule

    Hi, I’m a freelancer—a freelance writer, to be more precise—and yes, I did have a crappy schedule. Sometimes I was struggling to get even the smallest amount of work done and to handle it in a timely fashion. I always wanted to do the best work I could in order to produce a quality piece of writing, so I kept spending obscene amounts of time to get it done; to make my articles perfect (from my point of view).

    Not an advisable approach.

    But enough about me. Let’s focus on some indicators that you too might have a crappy schedule, and let’s reveal the big mystery of how to fix it (hint: there’s no mystery).

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    Note. This article is not only for freelancers. If you’re a business owner, or have a flexible work schedule in any other form then you can still benefit from this guide.

    1. You end up working late nights.

    This is the first and most basic indicator that your schedule, my friend, is a crappy one.

    Now, I’m not here to judge you, and if you like working in the evenings, that’s fine. What is and what isn’t “late night” for you is a personal thing—it’s not defined by an actual hour. From my point of view, however when you start feeling sleepy, yet you continue working because you “have to”, then you’re right in the middle of late night working.

    This isn’t good for anything: not for your health, not for your productivity, not for your results. The first step to making your schedule not crappy is deciding not to work late nights.

    2. You don’t know what’s going on in the morning.

    I know that mornings can be confusing: those first two hours upon waking up are usually chaotic and don’t contain much dedicated effort in any area. That’s fine, but problems start when it’s already been four hours since you’ve gotten up and you still don’t know what to do. I mean, you have your to-do list, your tasks, but somehow you can’t seem to get started.

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    Usually, this is not a problem with bad task assignment—this is a problem of not setting any in-day time constraints, so to speak. The thing is that your workday is not limited by a specific number of hours. You know that you need to get some things done by the end of the day, but you’re not thinking about your work time as a constant 8 hour or so effort.

    This is what eventually kills your free time.

    3. You have no time for relaxation.

    Or should I say “you think you have no time for relaxation.”

    Anyway, this connects somewhat with the previous points: if you constantly don’t know what to do in the morning, and you keep ending up working late night then no wonder you have no time to relax. Your relaxation time is actually one of the simplest indicators of how well-constructed your schedule is, and the rule of thumb is this: If you have sufficient amount of time for relaxation, then your schedule is just about okay.

    Just in case you’re not that convinced about the value of relaxation, let me just say that it’s the best and most effective way to keep you sane. It recharges your batteries and gets you ready for yet another day of hard work.

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    4. Your default answer is “I can’t, I’m busy”

    What do you usually say when someone asks you out for a beer, or a coffee? Is it the aforementioned “I can’t, I’m busy?” If so, then your schedule sucks. I’m not saying that you have to be available all day long for every social activity possible, but if you can’t find the time to enjoy some cool activities with your friends for the third week straight then something is probably not right.

    5. You have difficulty delivering on schedule.

    I’m not saying that you’re always late. I’m just saying that you have difficulties…

    Difficulties can mean working ’round the clock for the final two days before the deadline or having periods of intensified work and periods of no work at all for no apparent reason. If you’re going to prevent this, you’ll need some self-discipline and forecasting skills, so to speak.

    The approach that seems to work best for me is to handle 50% of my work as soon as possible, then space out the remaining 50% evenly over a given period of time. This way, I don’t find myself in a situation where I have to do 70% of the work in the last three days.

    6. You have no time for your own projects.

    Freelancing gives you plenty of space to handle your own stuff and to build your other brands and businesses—this sort of thing is very common among successful freelancers. However, not everyone manages to deliver on their promise, if you will. Starting another project is the easy part: finding time to execute it is a whole different ballgame.

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    If you’ve started a project, but now you have no time to handle it, then you have yourself a crappy schedule. Before you disagree, let me just say that freelancing was never supposed to be a job, so by definition, it shouldn’t be the only project on your mind.

    7. You have no hobbies or non-work-related interests.

    One thing I’m really proud of is that I’m not only a freelance writer (where I get paid for writing)—caution; one-minute boasting break ahead—I’m also a musician (one mixtape out, album on the way), a martial artist (Capoeira), and probably also a photographer (I have Instagram on my phone… and according to the Internet, that’s all I need). Is it because I have more time than others? No, it’s because I’ve made a conscious decision about my work not defining who I am.

    I’m sure I’m not the only one. You have your hobbies too, and if you think that you no longer have the time to take part in them, then maybe evaluate your schedule because, again, it is crappy.

    8. You read less than one book a month.

    This one is tricky, and to be honest, it’s my favorite item on the list. Reading is a vital activity for everyone, and especially for freelance writers. From my point of view, one book a month is the bare minimum that should be read (my mom reads three every two weeks, for example). Reading exposes you to new ideas, expands your knowledge and strengthens your expertise, and well, do I really have to talk about the benefits of reading? Reading is so much simpler in the 21st century too: we’ve got iPads, Kindles, and such, so you can keep your entire book collection in a backpack at all times.

    I guess that’s it for my list. I believe that if you handle each of the items here, you’ll make your schedule a significantly less crappy one. It’s not like I’ve already managed to get all this handled myself—I have some stuff left on my plate too.

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    Feel free to comment and tell me what you think about this. Is your schedule crappy? Do you have any ideas on what would look good as item #9 here?

    Featured photo credit:  Evening traffic. The city lights. Motion blur. via Shutterstock

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    Karol Krol

    Blogger, published author, and founder of a site that's all about delivering online business advice

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    Last Updated on October 7, 2021

    Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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    Are You Addicted to Productivity?

    “It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

    Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

    “Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

    Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

    Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

    “The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

    This is my mantra:

    I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

    But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

    Addiction to Productivity is Real

    Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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    “A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

    Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

    “It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

    Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

    “A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

    “There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

    “For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

    There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

    Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

    By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

    Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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    Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

    Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

    Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

    The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

    Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

    • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
    • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
    • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
    • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
    • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
    • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
    • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

    The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

    Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

    Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

    1. Set Limits

    Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

    For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

    2. Create a Not-to-Do List

    Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

    3. Be Vulnerable

    By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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    4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

    Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

    Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

    There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

    5. Don’t Be a Copycat

    Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

    That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

    6. Say Yes to Less

    Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

    That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

    Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

    7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

    “In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

    “That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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    • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
    • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
    • Establish realistic goals.
    • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
    • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
    • Hold yourself accountable.
    • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
    • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

    8. Simplify

    Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

    The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

    9. Learn How to Relax

    “Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

    “But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

    “And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

    But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

    • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
    • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
    • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
    • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
    • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
    • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
    • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
    • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
    • Visit a massage therapist.
    • Just breathe.

    “Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

    It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

    Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

    Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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