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How to Be More Productive as a Freelancer

By Adrian Carol

Freelancing can be very empowering in the sense that you have much more freedom than the typical 9-to-5-er. It can be quite challenging to wake up, zone in and get things done when there’s nobody telling you what to do. Overcoming procrastination can be a real challenge. Writer’s block can occur even if you’re not a writer. You’ll have to learn how to discipline yourself if you want to get things done faster (you’ll basically be earning more per hour). Here are some techniques that will help you stay on top of your game when working in your PJ’s:

Establish a routine

The line between working and hanging around in the house may get blurry when you’re a freelancer. Freedom does have its drawbacks as it can make you quite complacent... until you come close to deadlines and you have to work on 3 other projects as well.

The best way to maintain focus is to set a schedule and stick to it. You can also try other approaches as well, such as setting a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based) goal.

See what works best for you

That’s what I like most about being a freelancer. You get to choose your own time, location and tools to get the job done. You should test out different hours of the day and notice when you’re most productive.

Sometimes, it might not even be about the time of the day. I find that it’s also about mood. Never try to work when you’re just not in the mood for it. Try to do something else that maybe requires less mental energy or less imagination.

Break the rules

Try to work in a different place or a different time, especially when you aren’t feeling quite at your best. I enjoy working at the public library from time to time. It’s easier to maintain focus when you’re surrounded by people who came there to study or work in silence.

I enjoy pulling off all-nighters at least once a month and have a whole day (24 hours) of work. I’m a freelance writer, and I find that the most difficult part is to get “in the zone”. It can take a few hours to organize my thoughts and get into the right mood, but once I’m there, it’s smooth sailing and I can write on auto-pilot.

Use supplements

I usually drink my morning coffee and it certainly helps to beat morning sleepiness. When I have lots of work to get done, I usually take Modafinil, Phenibut or other supplements which work wonders for my productivity. More and more people are using nootropics nowadays, and they’ve certainly helped salvage lots of hangover days, turning them into satisfyingly productive work days.

Modafinil makes me very awake and focused, in a manner that can be compared to caffeine, although the cognitive enhancement is way more apparent. I can work for hours on end without getting bored and it makes me feel very confident, which works wonders for writing.

Phenibut is another one of my favorites. The Zen-like relaxed state that it puts me in allows me to see solutions clearly and brainstorm new ideas without any “mental noise” that may occur if I’m stressed or not in a good mood.

Take regular breaks

Taking breaks is often overlooked, yet very important not only for your productivity, but for your health also. Sitting down for extended periods of time is unhealthy for your back, muscles and circulatory system. If you really want to make the most out of your time, then you can consider using the Pomodoro technique. It’s quite easy, you have to stick to working 25 minutes without any distraction. That means no social media, no checking e-mails, nothing that’s not directly related to the task at hand. Once the 25 minutes are up, you can take a 5-minute break. I like to think of it as the small “reward” that I get for working so well during those 25 minutes. Repeat this step until you finish whatever it is that you’ve started.

Find a way to organize your thoughts

Being your own boss, you really have to keep tabs on yourself. It’s an absolute necessity to have a system where you keep track of clients, your own projects and certain resources that will help you learn to be a more productive freelancer. Some ideas are bound to come up while you’re randomly browsing the web or doing nothing. If you’re also an entrepreneur, your business will have more chances of being successful if you can implement a system of organization that will speed up your work process.

Don’t neglect your social life

As in, the one in which you’re actually near the actual person or people, not the social media thing. Call your friends, family or anyone and go out in the world. Most freelancers work at home and one’s social life may take a slight blow when switching from 9-to-5-er to freelancer. When I did the switch, the first few months I was working in the evenings and constantly refused invitations from friends. You may be surprised by how social gatherings can refresh your mind and give you the energy needed to come up with the right ideas. Remember to maintain a healthy social life and avoid the dangers of workaholism.

Enjoy your freedom to travel

I did mention PJ’s at the beginning of the article, but how about you work in your shorts.. while drinking a Pina Colada.. on a faraway beach?

The freedom to travel is truly of the best perks of being a freelancer. There are many digital nomads who use the advantage of being able to work from anywhere to travel and see the world. This can be greatly refreshing for the mind and may be just the thing that you need to boost your productivity.


Freelancing can be a challenging career path filled with uncertainty and huge potential at the same time. It’s a competitive activity that requires you to stay one step ahead of the pack by being more effective. There are many other ways to boost your productivity that have not been tested or mentioned in this article. You just have to find the ones that fit for you best and apply them with discipline, effectiveness, and, above all, passion.

Author bio:
Adrian Carol is an editor at Nootrodelic, a blog about nootropics, psychedelics and how to use them responsibly to boost your quality of life and productivity. He enjoys making the most out of every day.

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