Wouldn’t it be nice if we were able to accomplish everything we had originally planned for the day?
There are 24 hours in a day. After accounting for eating, bathing and other routine daily tasks, you’re left with a good 10-12 hours of productive, awake time. So, it’s feasible to get your tasks done as a freelance blogger.
But, that never happens. Instead, you add more tasks to your never-ending to-do list – which by the way is a waste of time and causes more stress than good – hoping tomorrow will be more productive.
As a mom and a freelance blogger, if I could clone myself, I would. While coffee gets me through most of my day – with a booming business and three-year old twins to keep out of trouble – you would think I’d have to guzzle a pot of coffee to get anything done.
Being more productive really depends on the type of person you are. Everyone has a different organizational approach or time management strategy, but one thing is clear – if we could double our productivity, we would.
The most productive people in the world
When you think of people who are productive day in and day out, what comes to mind?
The high-powered CEO of a big Fortune 500 company?
Or the mom with six kids who cooks all her meals from scratch, grows all her food and has a dog too?
Or, how about the co-worker who always finishes her work hours before you, and then takes on more work because she just likes to work?
You would think these types of people would be the most productive people there are, but in fact, it’s the slow living, relaxing Cubans who are considered the most productive in the world.
Why is this? Their priorities are different. If there’s a task that has to be done, they don’t fret or wait, they just do it. If they can do a task that generates extra money, they go for it, no questions asked.
Cubans know the value of work and know how to work smarter, not harder.
As freelancers, we are responsible for our own schedule and productivity. If you take a day off, you don’t earn income. If a client drops you or cuts down your work, you earn less.
But, we also have a house and family to take care of. So, how can we double our productivity so that we accomplish more and feel satisfied at the end of the day?
Work less hours
If I work less, I’m more productive?
Want to know which country is also up there with Cuba as having productive people?
The Netherlands – and their people only work a four-day work week.
The Dutch work less, but are as productive or more per hour as Americans who work an average 40-hour work week.
Just think about it: if you were only given four hours a day – or even three or just two – to do your job, would you be more productive than if you were given a full week of 40 hours to do the same job?
When we perceive we have a long time frame to complete a task, we’ll either procrastinate or focus on insignificant tasks to fill the time.
Ever spent hours trying to find the perfect image for a blog post? Or, how about re-writing that pitch for the umpteenth time?
According to Stephan Covey who wrote the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, there are four categories you can place you tasks in:
He termed this the Eisenhower Decision Matrix. His research concluded that most people focus on important tasks that aren’t urgent rather than urgent tasks that are important.
Given the time you have to do your work, here’s how you can work smarter, not harder, and focus on those urgent and important tasks.
1. Increase your typing speed
How long does it take you to type a 1,000-word post on a subject you’re familiar with? If it takes you two hours or more, consider improving your typing speed.
As freelance bloggers, how fast you type directly impacts how many pieces you can complete, which in turn, gages how much you make per month.
If I can type 1,000 words in less than an hour I can feasibly write 2-3 posts a day – not including research or editing.
To improve your typing speed, try squeezing some typing tests into your work day.
2. Increase your rate
Are your charging what you’re really worth as a freelance blogger? All too many of us are underpaid and overworked.
To put a stop to that, work your way up to higher-paying gigs and use them to gradually replace your lower-paying gigs. Continue along this path until you’re making the income you desire.
When you charge more for your projects, you end up working less for the same amount of work involved.
Before increasing your rate, follow a plan to increase your perceived value as a writer first.
Prior to raising my rates, I did the following:
Updated my portfolio
My portfolio page of my website housed practically every bylined post I wrote. I needed to streamline my portfolio to show prospects my best pieces in my preferred niche.
I made sure to list pieces that are published on popular sites first, as a way of saying hey, look where I write!
By doing this, I automatically increased my perceived value as a writer.
Updated my website
Along with updating my portfolio, I revamped my entire site by focusing my copy to attract my ideal client.
From my headline to my copy, I stressed my love for digital marketing.
By focusing on my ideal client, I am able to command premium rates since I am showing my credibility and knowledge in the digital marketing niche.
Highlighted important testimonials
If you know someone and they recommend a product or service, you’re more likely to try it out, aren’t you?
As a freelance blogger, you can convince prospects to hire you when you have other businesses and people vouch for you.
When I updated my site I made sure to put my most notable testimonials on my homepage.
When I improved my perceived value as a writer, I was able to raise my rates with future clients, giving me more time to scale my business.
Listen to music
First I’m saying work fewer hours and now I’m saying listen to music. If you’re not noticing, doubling your productivity has nothing to do with working more and making lists.
It has everything to do with prioritizing what’s important, which is taking a page out of the Cubans’ productivity handbook.
But, music is a little bit different. It shouldn’t be your priority to listen to music; rather listening to music can help you be more productive.
Studies have shown that listening to specific types of music – Baroque music – can improve concentration and productivity.
Classical or instrumental music helps you tune out distractions and remain focused on the task at hand.
I recently started listening to Ludovico Einaudi’s Divenire – yes, I’ve been listening to this exact album on repeat for months now – and it really helps get my creative juices flowing.
And since I only have around 4-5 hours of quality work time in any given day, I can’t spare a minute. With my headphones on, I am able to get into the zone and write.
Adam listens to a variety of music, but when he needs to focus he uses the Brain.fm app.
Aside from enhanced focus, music also helps your mood and inspiration. It’s no wonder movies use scores to enhance a scene or jingles to help you remember a product.
For many writers and bloggers, there might be days or weeks where you are stuck. Blogger’s block can hit you any time, even when there’s a deadline looming. No amount of pounding your head, doing jumping jacks, staring out the window, or free writing can help you overcome writer’s block.
Why not harness the power of music to inspire you and get you out of your funk? If anything, it can relax your brain, helping you focus so you can create content.
Create a digital system
Doubling your productivity doesn’t happen overnight. By adopting tools and a system, you can streamline and automate certain tasks, giving you more time and helping you double your productivity.
Here are some tools I use to help me maintain focus, keep things under control, and free up time.
Trello is a digital organizational tool to help business and individuals. By keeping all your projects, emails, blog posts and spreadsheets in one place, you don’t have to spend the time searching for it. It’s all in one spot.
What’s nice about Trello is you can sync it to Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox, making it truly a cohesive system.
Personally, I use it to keep track of bigger projects – course material, future collaborations, potential new sites – and to lay out the necessary steps involved.
Google Drive is a cloud synchronization storage space for all your files. You can share your documents with others, have others edit and review your pieces, and truly make it a unified system for all your work.
For freelance bloggers, some clients may request you submit your work via Google Docs where they can edit your piece, and return it back to you for revisions.
Google Sheets is where I manage all my projects and earnings. I keep track of each assignment and editorial process that’s involved from inception to submission.
Social media automation tools
I realized that as I entered my second year of freelance blogging, I had a lot more on my plate to manage.
One task was keeping up with my social media presence. I own and manage several blogs – many with their own social media accounts – and I no longer was able to maintain them all by hand.
Hootsuite let’s me schedule my tweets for the day, which gives me more time to focus on pitching, emailing and writing.
Tailwind is designed for automating Pinterest marketing and uses a drag-and-drop system to schedule your pins.
In just 10 minutes, you can schedule your pins for the week.
What’s great about Tailwind is their time slots. They suggest times to schedule your pins based on the optimal times your audience will be on Pinterest. You can also create your own time slots.
Check out David’s post on social scheduling tools for more ways to save time on social media.
Wrapping it up
There are so many posts out there about increasing your productivity. But, if you just break it down to re-prioritizing, you’ll have no problem being more productive.
Look at your day and track how you make use of it. Focus on only working the hours that you need to accomplish your work, and remove all other distractions with music. Finally, consider using an automation tool to free up your time for other business-related matters.