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A Freelancer’s Guide to a Productive (and Short) Day

Working long days is never fun – unless you happen to relish the mental strength required to remain focused on the task in hand for hours on end. Similarly, long days are rarely productive, no matter how much they may feel so.

That might sound odd. Surely, the more hours you put in, the more stuff you get done, right?

I used to think that way, until I headed into the freelancing world. When I was working for a larger business, I’d regularly conduct some very long days indeed, and feel all the while as though I was achieving ultimate productivity.

In reality, I was just wearing myself out and achieving far less than I thought. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise this until long after I cleared my desk and put that chapter of my working life to bed. Now, I realise just how much time I was wasting trying to be ultra-productive.

My new working days are both markedly shorter and, as a result, far more productive. With that in mind, I’d like to give you a window into how I go about my day as a freelancer.

1. I rise early and start work immediately

I’m not a morning person, but since I’ve started working for myself, I’ve developed a new-found love for waking early to get work done.

I rise at around 6am every day and, after making a vital cup of coffee, get straight to work. This enables me to get plenty of stuff done before the rest of the world even reaches its desk and I find that my mind is far more creative during those early hours, too.

2. I take a mid-morning break

Come 10am (sometimes earlier), I’ll head out into the wilderness with my four-legged friend for a much needed break.

This bout of exercise is vital, as it enables me to get some vital air into my lungs that in turn feeds my brain. As a result, I return feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to crack on with the rest of the day.

3. I eat well and avoid snacking

I love food and, if truth be told, could spend the majority of my day snacking on all sorts of stuff that may satisfy a craving but which is ultimately detrimental to both by body and mind.

Instead, I keep to regular meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and if I feel peckish, opt for fruit over chocolate and crisps. In fact, I employ a number of healthy kickstarts to ensure I’m in top condition.

A healthy body fosters a healthy mind.

4. I head to the gym early afternoon

As previously noted, exercise is vitally important. That’s why I attend the gym as often as possible. Timing is crucial with this one, as I find that by the time the clock strikes 3PM, my attention is starting to wane a little.

I’ve found that if I head to the gym for an hour at that time of the day, I return just as refreshed as when I get back from my dog walk. And as a happy bonus, I’m doing my body the world of good, too!

5. I rely on tools to keep me on track

I’m a writer by trade, and while constructing sentences is a skill I’m proud to have, I’m always rather disappointed by my appalling ability to remember stuff.

For this reason, I rely whole-heartedly on my to-do list and content calendar. Without them, I’d have to sack myself, because I simply wouldn’t meet deadlines or have a solid idea of the tasks I need to undertake each day. Which brings me onto my next point…

6. I review my to-do list before committing to tomorrow

Before signing off for the day, I spend time looking at the to-do list for tomorrow. I ask myself some though questions – am I promising too much? Can I really complete everything listed within one day?

If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, I adjust my to-do list and realign my own expectations. It makes a huge difference to my productivity levels each day and, providing I keep my clients up-to-speed with ETAs, works for everyone.

Final thoughts

By working in the above manner, I finish most days at around 5PM (sometimes earlier). However, despite that early start, what would otherwise have been a long day is tempered by a number of significant breaks that help me rejuvenate.

I hope these tips help you in your quest to become ultra productive. They certainly work for me and may just enable you to reduce the amount of time you spend chained to your desk.

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