Getting Things Done: How Can Freelancers Master Productivity?

Let’s face it, most of us see working from home as heaven. The ability to choose your own hours, wearing comfy clothing and many other benefits are very appealing reasons to work from home.
However, having that much freedom might make it hard to get it all together and remain at a high level of productivity.
Luckily, there’s a plenty of techniques for getting things done. Some simple changes in your daily routine can fully alter your mindset and assist in turning your home office into a productive and healthy workplace environment.
So here are 7 ways to master productivity and get things done when working from home as well as 25 resources to help you along your way.

Rise and Shine!

There’s a good reason to get up at the same time every day and get dressed as would you normally do when getting ready for work. But why would you need to get dressed if you’re not going anywhere?
If you wake up and in your PJ’s head over straight to your computer, you will probably end up surfing Facebook or checking up on world news because you need some time to wake up. This might result in one, two, or even three wasted hours. So a much better idea is to keep the “getting ready” ritual. Not only you will have time to wake up and have a proper breakfast, but it will also help to mentally dispose yourself to work.

Have a traditional workplace

The irrefutable advantage of telecommuting is the freedom to chose the place to work. Some people find themselves more productive working on a sofa, in the bed, in the garage or at the park, but in most cases it does make sense to arrange a traditional workspace.
Having a proper workspace helps you distinguish from domestic life and dispose yourself to work. At the same time, you keep all the things that you might need when working in one place.
Find a place where you feel comfortable, that faces the least distractions like ambient noises and has enough natural light.

Set your working hours

The truth is that if you don’t have a fixed schedule for your working hours, it is very simple to go over to the “I will do it when I get to it” approach, which will cost you in missed deadlines and missed opportunities.
So instead of taking that approach, establish a solid structure of working hours that are comfortable and most productive to you. It's important because if you schedule a 9-to-5 work day when you know you aren't at your most productive within that time, you're working against yourself, ultimately leading you to take longer to perform tasks and produce work that isn't your best.
So find your most productive hours and stick to them.

Planning is everything

To stay productive, you must have a clear list of tasks for the day written down prioritized from most important to least important. Visualisation makes it easier to understand how loaded you are today, how loaded you will be tomorrow and how loaded you will be this month. Building everyday short term plans helps you in building long term prospects.
Use anything that suits you the most, from Google Drive or Evernote to a regular paper notebook.
But if you like creative things, then make your own calendar, like this one. You don’t need special materials or skills to make it. But once you do, you will have a visual insight of your plans, and a nice looking workplace.

Creative calendar

Create a work routine

The list below involves creating routines and tactics for a better time and mental energy management.

  • Set priorities according to your personal efficiency. The majority of people are the most productive after the first few hours of waking up. So it does make sense to resolve tasks that demand the least mental concentration first, and then move on to the tough tasks/projects.
  • Concentrate. When you’re working on a task, don’t have more than 5 tabs/windows open. Disable everything that can distract you, like popping out email notifications, social media messages, etc.
  • Learn time-saving hacks and tools. 1) If you find that you often write the same email responses, create templates for them. So when you need one you can just customize it and not write the whole thing over and over again. 2) Learn a couple of keyboard shortcuts. 3) Find a time management tool that works for you. There's a lot of great apps for your cell phone and PC/Mac out there.

Create boundaries and let your family respect them

Definitely the most important thing that you have learn is that working from home does not mean you are “available”. Our homes and workplace have their own specific sources of stress, responsibility and distraction. Watching them come together in the same place can often prove to be too much.
A particularly compelling reason to work from home is the chance to spend more time with your family. But if your house is a bustling household, boundaries are extremely important.
In one of the previous paragraphs, we mentioned that it is good to choose a place that faces the least distractions and ambient noise. So it would be perfect if you had a separate room as your home office. Having a place dedicated only to work creates some very literal, boundaries that you’ll almost definitely find essential.
So set aside specific times and locations for your work and family duties.

Take consistent breaks

The fact that you work from home does not mean that you shouldn’t take breaks. Work is still work, and tension is still tension.
Mental concentration is similar to a muscle. It becomes fatigued after sustained use and needs a rest period before it can recover.
While breaks might make us feel guilty because we’re being unproductive, it is important to take a break every 60-90 minutes. And taking a break does not include switching to Facebook or checking your email. Walk away from a computer, go outside to get yourself a cup of coffee or simply sit in the garden. Work out for a bit, this will stimulate the blood circulation and brain power cord with oxygen, which is just great for productive thinking.

As a bonus, here are some books to read for freelancers that give some general and specific business tips.

1. The Lean Start-up by Eric Ries

The sad truth is that most startups fail, but many of those failures are preventable. This book offers a new approach to be adopted globally. It changes the way that companies are built and new products launched.

2. “How to Start a Successful Business – the First Time” by Garry Bizzo

This book addresses the issues and problems his clients faced in setting up a business through to the day to day operations of their businesses. Gary is passionate about helping small businesses, and this book allows new entrepreneurs ease of entry into the business world.

3. 18 minutes by Peter Bregman

This book is based on Peter Bregman’s weekly Harvard Business Review columns (which are the most popular columns on “18 minutes” clearly shows how busy people can cut through all the daily clutter and distractions and find a way to focus on those key items which are truly the top priorities in our lives.

4. The 4 hour work week by Tim Ferriss

Whether you’re an overworked employee or an entrepreneur trapped in your own business, The 4-Hour Workweek is the compass for a new and revolutionary world.
Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan—there is no need to wait and every reason not to. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, high-end world travel, monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, this book is the blueprint.

5. Stop thinking like a freelancer by Liam Veitch

Freelancing is difficult. It’s tough to plan for growth (in client volume and revenue) when current income is too unstable to even consider anything beyond the here and now.
This book dives deep on making freelancing more stable, beating “treading water” cycles, repelling ‘bad apple' clients, multiplying online exposure and follows the journey of Liam, with honest, clear advice and guidance from laptop and rented desk to a $1m web agency.

6. Design is a job by Mike Monteiro

This book will help you to do your job better, beginning from contracts to selling design, from working with clients to working with each other. You’ll learn why navigating the business of design is just as important as the craft of it. Cultivated from his own experience, Mike packs this brief book with knowledge you can’t afford not to know.

7. Double your freelancing rate by Brennan Dunn

You want to charge your clients more, but you’re unsure about where to start. Most of us are clueless when it comes to pricing. Sure, we’re great technically — we can design a beautiful site, craft solid code, or write great copy — but we’re not all the great at selling ourselves at a higher rate.
What if you knew what clients were looking for? What if you had a framework for proposing projects at significantly higher rates than you’re charging today? What if you knew how to respond to pushback?
What if you could double your freelancing income?

8. Execute by Drew Wilson & Josh Long

Execute is a new book by Drew Wilson & Josh Long about executing on ideas immediately when inspired rather than following the normal rules. Execute walks you through how to quickly turn inspiration and ideas into real tangible products. It’s a practical guide to shipping, and shipping fast. Its purpose is to inspire you to create, not just dream.

9. Client centric web design by Paul Boag

This book proposes a different model for building websites, one where the web designer and client work in a collaborative relationship. You will build better sites, projects will be more satisfying and clients will be happier.

10. How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie

For more than sixty years the rock-solid, time-tested advice in this book has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.

11. Amplification by Justin Jackson

Do you have a blog, landing page, or web site that’s not getting traction? Looking to build a larger audience?
Creating great content isn’t enough; to get it seen by thousands, you need amplification.

12. Student freelancing 101 by Amber Leigh Turner

This book is for students who want to start a successful self-employed career. This book is written like a course, taking students through ten lessons aimed at providing start-to-finish research, planning, executing, and growing of their freelancing careers. With over 200 pages full of content, “Student Freelancing 101″ is formatted like a workbook, allowing you space to write your thoughts and ideas as you move through the course.

13. Escape From Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim

Pamela Slim is a former corporate training manager who left her office job to go solo and has enjoyed every bit of it. In her groundbreaking book, based on her popular blog Escape from Cubicle Nation, Slim explores both the emotional issues of leaving the corporate world and the nuts and bolts of launching a business. Drawing on her own career, as well as stories from her coaching clients and blog readers, Slim will help you weigh your options and make a successful escape if you decide to go for it.

14. My So-Called Freelance Life by Michelle Goodman

Tired of clocking in and losing out? Want to pursue creative, fulfilling work on your own time and also make a living in the process? This is a how-to guidebook for women who want to avoid the daily grind and turn their freelance dreams into reality. It is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in freelancing.

15. Focal Point by Brian Tracy

Got a lot on your to-do list? Of course you do. But what separates productive people from others is their ability to focus on a single task at a time, and getting it done before moving on to the next one.
Sounds simple in theory, but this can be extremely difficult in practice. In Focal Point Brian Tracy offers tips to help build discipline and organization into your day so you can get more stuff done.

16. Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz

If you’ve struggled with procrastination or small thinking, this is the book for you. In it Schwartz offers practical advice that can help you get inspired and motivated to create a bigger life for yourself. And with it can be a more lucrative and rewarding career.

17. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Think and grow rich is the most important financial book ever written. Napoleon Hill researched more than forty millionaires to find out what made them the men that they are. In this book he imparts that knowledge to you. Once you've read this book you will understand what gives certain people an edge over everyone else.

18. Everything I know by Paul Jarvis

The last thing the world needs is another “get-rich-like-me,” self-proclaimed expert on what it takes to work for yourself. Anti-guru Paul Jarvis has written Everything I Know as a no-rules guide through uncharted territory with stories based on his two decades of freelancing. It’s a swift kick in the creative ass without fairies, unicorns or new-age clichés.

19. The Freelancer's Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Have the Career of Your Dreams – On Your Terms by Sarah Horowitz

There are 42 million people who have to wrestle with not just doing the work, but finding the work, then getting paid for the work, plus health care, taxes, setting up an office, marketing, and so on. Now help is here, and consultants, independent contractors, the self-employed, “solopreneurs,” and everyone else living a freelancer’s life will never be alone again but instead can be part of a strong and vibrant community.

20. Creative, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business by Joy Deangdeelert Cho

This book will teach all types of creatives illustrators, photographers, graphic designers, animators, and more how to build a successful business doing what they love.. Accessible, spunky, and packed with practical advice, “Creative, Inc.” is an essential for anyone ready to strike out on their own.

21. Escaping the Competitive Herd by Youngme Moon

This is probably one of the best books on marketing/business strategy. The essential premise of the book is that being different is what will set you apart from the competition but that the way to achieve that genuine differentiation is far more counter-intuitive than you would ever expect.
To see this kind of strategy in action just open up two more browser tabs and compare the difference between and One offers much more while the other does one thing and one thing only, but incredibly well.

22. Crazy Is a Compliment by Linda Rottenberg

If you’ve been called crazy for your business ideas, or if people don’t seem to understand what you understand—then this book is a way for you to cope and collect the inspiration and insight you need to forge ahead and do what you love—successfully.

23. Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want by Alexander Osterwalder

This is a hard-hitting book that equips people and teams with the tools to drive meaningful, productive, collaboration towards creating and building the future.

24. The Designer's Guide To Marketing And Pricing: How To Win Clients And What To Charge Them by Ilise Benun

This book will answer all the common questions asked by designers trying to stay afloat in their creative business – and also successful designers who want to put a little more thought into their operations. Whether you're a freelancer, an aspiring entrepreneur or a seasoned small-business owner, you'll learn everything you need to know about how to market and price your services.

25. Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky

According to Scott Belsky, the capacity to make ideas happen can be developed by anyone willing to develop their organizational habits and leadership capability.
While many of us obsess about discovering great new ideas, Belsky shows why it's better to develop the capacity to make ideas happen, a capacity that endures over time.

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