Thursday 15 March 2012

The importance of a Daily Schedule

If you're a freelancer or working on your own, you may be familiar with some of the pitfalls when it comes to productivity and time management in general. Certainly sometimes I do, and therefore I think that the first step in becoming a better selfemployed, is to acknowledge that you may need to be more in control of your time and plans than first expected.

In attempt to control and manage my own time to make sure I get everything done, I've bought this great "Action Journal" from the 99%-shop – a small notebook with space enough to write both text and calender - and then it has a special column to emphasize the more important and specific action steps of the day.

I've stolen the following text directly from FreelanceShack, and take absolutely no credit for the following lines, but I would love to hear if you're a freelancer or have any great additions or ideas to this subject!
When we gave up a job to work from home as Freelancers we probably had visions of a productive home office, that would provide us with being paid for doing something we love to do, combined with the freedom of self employment to take care of our life responsibilities
For many of us however, the reality is we wake up in the morning full of intentions to complete a chapter of the book we are writing or to make a start on allocated assignments, only to find at the end of the day we have actually accomplished very little.
Sound all too familiar?  Most of us have are probably nodding our head in agreement.  We can probably all relate to taking a little longer over our morning rituals of reading emails or checking our social media accounts in the name of “work”.  When we are ready to work we face writers block or have a feeling of overwhelming fatigue we find hard to shift.
If this is your experience, here are 4 simple, but very useful strategies to help Freelancers control their day and increase productivity with minimal effort and little change of routine.
  1. Have a daily schedule mapped out:   Plan your day and prepare a to-do list that is achievable. Include the things you have to do AND the things you want to do.  Multi task where you can by combining different tasks together.
  2. Work solidly for a set period of time but take frequent breaks to enable you to then surge again.  A little like the popular “fat burning” routines that people are getting such great success from.   Short exhausting stints and a cool down break produces pleasing results.
  3. Achieve one task on your to do list at a time.  Enjoy the feeling of ticking off that one item and seeing the list become shorter as the day progresses.
  4. Decide if you work better with or without a distraction. Use music if it keeps you focused, but turn it off if it causes you to loose concentration. Schedule other distractions like checking emails for a specific time each day.  Resist the temptation to keep your social networking sites open whilst you work.  Don’t forget to reward yourself for completing a task.
Unless we are very strict with ourselves schedules tend to be broken more often than they are kept. Despite all our good intentions, unexpected interruptions happen to freelancers and we can still find ourselves in the middle of an unproductive day, where little has been accomplished and we are far behind on those deadlines.
What steps can we take to regroup and turn our productivity around?   The most useful advice is don’t panic.  Don’t get frustrated and angry with yourself and others.  Don’t stop planning either.

Three simple steps may prove helpful.

  1.  Take a look at what you still have to accomplish and rearrange the tasks so that you can achieve the urgent and important tasks and leave the non urgent ones for another day.
  2. Where possible reschedule any non essential appointments and tasks to minimize the need to leave your desk for any length of time until the work is completed.
  3. Reduce other responsibilities for the day by having an emergency back up plan you can call on when absolutely necessary to create some extra time.
The humble daily schedule may seem an unnecessary task that adds to an already over full “to do” list, but in a distraction filled work environment, it is the freelancers best asset to improve and maintain optimum productivity.   


Anonymous said...

Speaking of lists/ways to be creative:

Katharina Berggreen said...

Great list! Thanks for sharing! :)