There are several perks that make freelancing an enticing option: the freedom to work from home, to choose your own hours, to work independently and even the option to accept or decline a project. However, these same benefits can easily become catalysts to idleness and inaction.
Perhaps the most important factor in maintaining productivity as a freelancer is self-discipline. It’s very easy to get distracted without a supervisor checking in or having set work hours to adhere to. With that said, one must exert a good amount of willpower; freelancing is by no means “easier” than any other work.
Time management, then, is one of the most crucial aspects of successful freelancing. One of the simplest ways to ensure a productive workday is to allocate a specific amount of time to each task. Set a timer for X amount of minutes and work on a set assignment until it goes off, then move on to the next project. For every hour of work, give yourself a fifteen-minute break. On a larger scale, keeping a calendar is crucial. It is important to be aware of what needs to be done well in advance. Nothing slows down progress like an unexpected project. If you have a smartphone, it may be beneficial to link a digital calendar to all of your devices. That way, you’ll always know what needs to be done—even when you’re away from your workspace—and can plan accordingly. Apple products make this especially easy, but Google also offers a digital calendar to anyone with an account. Additionally, iPhone users can take advantage of the Reminders feature or the wide array of to-do list apps available. Of course, an old-fashioned to-do list scrawled on notepad works just as well.
If you find it difficult to stay focused at home, you may benefit from working elsewhere. Take your laptop to a coffee shop or head to the library and utilize one of the study rooms. For projects that require a bigger setup (editing on a large monitor, scanning and printing photos, etc.) it may be worth investing in a small office space further from home. For some this is not financially feasible, in which case, designate a specific area of your home to work only.
Unfortunately, as photographers in this day in age, we can’t avoid working with our computers. And as we all know, the Internet can be a dangerous place–especially when there is work to be done. Luckily, there are a handful of apps designed to squelch procrastination by blocking certain websites for a specified period of time. Windows users can download FocalFilter; SelfControl is available to Mac users. If you must browse the web, at least use it as an opportunity to improve your work: learn how to recover blown out images, improve your bokeh, or perfect your white balance.
Finally, taking care of your health is one of the most straightforward ways you can improve your performance. While it seems obvious, it is worth reiterating that diet and exercise are imperative for optimal efficiency. If you find yourself skipping meals or avoiding the gym, you’re bound to get groggy, cranky, or otherwise unable to focus. Many of us immediately grab a cup of coffee when we start to crash, but there are a number of other (and sometimes healthier) ways to recharge. For instance, tea is an excellent alternative to coffee and comes with many additional health benefits. Peppermint tea is a good choice because even the scent alone is energizing. As far as foods are concerned, some are better than others when it comes to providing the necessary concentration and energy to get work done. Foods known for improving focus and concentration include avocado, salmon, dark chocolate, and nuts. Supplements are another easy way to boost your health and thus improve your work. Ginkgo biloba is a supplement that helps with memory and concentration. (It also comes in tea form.) B vitamins are another group of highly advantageous supplements. B vitamins help your body to convert food into energy, making you that much more alert!
In any case, discipline and self-care are crucial to a successful freelance career. As long as you make the necessary adjustments to improve your work habits and take care of your body, you are that much more likely to increase your productivity.