We’ve all been there. We’ve had an important assignment to complete as freelance writer – and a limited amount of time to complete it in – but, no matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to concentrate. In fact, we’ll do almost anything and everything else apart from what we’re supposed to be doing to avoid it.
Do we all have ADD? Not likely. We all just struggle with productivity sometimes. It’s what makes us human! The brain can only handle so much activity at once, and there’s only so long that we can concentrate on something before our minds are crying out for a little break.
Everybody has their own tips and tricks when it comes to maintaining their productivity levels. I’ve been working as a full-time freelance writer for a little while now, with multiple clients at one time, so I just want to share my personal advice when it comes to this subject.
Am I an expert in productivity? No. But do I think I can help? For sure. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, or a professional who’s been in the game for longer than you can remember, here’s how to be more productive as a freelance writer.
1. Find a quiet area.
This is productivity rule 101. It goes without saying: it’s practically impossible to be productive when you have your neighbour’s gardeners mowing the lawn next door, or your newborn baby crying in a nearby room.
Me, personally? I need to remove myself from any noise of any kind to be able to crank out some half-decent words. The majority of the time I tend to work in my own office space in my house, but sometimes it’s rather nice to find a quiet corner of a coffee shop where I can immerse myself in my thoughts and my work.
A little background noise can be good for productivity levels (see point number six) but, most of the time, silence works really well. Obvs.
2. Have liquids on hand.
I can’t stress how important it is to make sure you have access to fluids. Basically, you need to keep your body hydrated, which is also good for the mind. It makes things clearer and also keeps you feelin’ fresh.If you're a tea lover, why not grab a cuppa before you start working? Or, if you're like me, you won't be able to bash out even one word without having a few sips of the miracle stuff that is coffee first.Click To Tweet
If you’ve been living under a rock, according to science, caffeine is a stimulant which increases productivity. And I seriously can’t survive without the stuff.
If hot drinks don’t do it for you, you could always stick with good old-fashioned water. Also make sure you have your drink next to you before you start writing, as it will save you from having to get up to grab one when you’re mid-flow. You’re welcome, bruva!
3. Have an outline noted down prior.
This doesn’t have to be extensive, but I find if I have a rough outline drafted before I actually sit down and start writing, then I can just launch straight into the piece without any messing around.
I also do my research prior to writing a piece for the very same reason! If you open Word or Pages or whatever form of document you work in on your laptop, write your outline and add bits of research from the internet that you want to include before you start writing, then you can just get straight down to it when it’s time to be a productive badass.
And, if you’re struggling to be productive when writing your outline or doing your research, simply check out the other points 🙂
4. Eliminate all distractions.
I’m talking about those pesky social media pages you have open on your laptop, or your phone that’s just casually sitting next to you and could go off any minute with a text from your good friend Susan about her botched boob job or some other irrelevant stuff.
Shut down the social media pages, put your phone on silent and remove it from eyesight, and make sure you only have windows open on your laptop that are relevant to the piece you’re writing.In the world that we currently live in, where everything and everyone is available at the click of a button, it's so easy to become distracted and forget to focus on the moment.Click To Tweet
It’s so important to just pay attention to the job at hand when you’re freelance writing, otherwise you’ll never get anything done!
This one in particular is difficult for me, especially when all I want to do is hear about Susan’s botched boob job. Oh, Susan.
5. Make sure your laptop is fully charged.
I can’t tell you the amount of times that I’ve been in the middle of a really interesting piece, fully immersed in what I’m writing, and then my laptop dies.
(Cue a lot of cursing that almost results in throwing my laptop out of the window.)
Instead of being interrupted and having to get up, find your laptop charger, plug it in and wait for your laptop to re-load (because urrrghhh effort) – why not make sure your laptop is plugged in before you start writing? I know – smart, right? And totally worth doing.
6. Listen to calming sounds.
Perhaps you want to take this literally and find some sounds of the ocean shore going backwards and forwards to work to. Or maybe you’re like me and you like having music on in the background to help you focus. Either way, it’s a well-known fact that music and melodic sounds increase productivity.
Some people find that they get more done if they work in complete silence, which is totally fine. Each to their own. But I need a little somethin’ somethin’ on in the background – usually in the form of the radio or a playlist of my favourite songs. Job done.
7. Write in short bursts.
This one’s pretty subjective but, in my opinion, I’m more productive when I write in short bursts and then take regular breaks. I’m talking about doing 20 minutes on and then five minutes off.
Everyone’s different, but I can’t write for too long without needing to pause – even if it’s only for a few minutes. Also my brain won’t let me write for any longer than two hours with more of a significant break. That’s just the way it is!Writing uses a lot of brain power when you're doing it for a job, so much more than people realise, and it's mentally exhausting at times.Click To Tweet
Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do – but, just like being a joiner is physically demanding on the body, writing is mentally demanding on the brain.
Always give yourself regular breaks and try not to stare at your laptop screen for too long without looking away – even if it is only for 30 seconds! There’s a good freelance writer. *Pats head* 🙂
8. Reward yourself when the work is completed.
Ah, my favourite part!
I find that the best way to reward yourself after you’ve been a total productivity whizz is to simply do something that you love to do. Whether this is play video games, watch an episode of something on Netflix, or go for a walk outside for some fresh air – give yourself a reward for completing the work. Even if it’s only something small.
It helps if you have the reward in mind when you’re writing, as it gives yourself a goal to work towards. Either way, the reward soon comes around – and man, does it feel great! Just remember to enjoy it! After all, you’ve earned it.
Being productive when you really need to get stuff done can be really challenging, especially if you’re a busy freelance writer with multiple articles to write in one day! Hopefully my tips and tricks will help you with your productivity levels the next time you’re working.
My advice is to focus on what you can do within the time that’s given to you and try not to freak out! Freaking out will only make you less productive, as you will spend all your time and energy freaking out instead of using it for writing purposes. Try your best to work hard, keep a level head and I guarantee you’ll be a productivity badass in no time! You have so got this.