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December 8, 2022

Proven by Psychology: Productivity hacks for Freelancers | Corgee

Productivity hacks for Freelancers

The Getting Things Done method (GTD), automation apps, the Pomodoro Technique, bullet journaling, Eat That Frog, and Zen to Done–even AI is now in the picture. These are just some of the hundreds of productivity hacks that people use. But what really works?

As a freelancer, your life depends on your productivity, kind of. All that pressure can make it even harder to concentrate, and in an already distracting world, you end up falling behind. That’s why we’re always on the hunt for productivity hacks, but it’s crucial to understand how and why some productivity hacks work, and others don’t. And for that, we need to understand ourselves a little better.

Time to get to work! Let’s dive into why you aren’t as productive as you’d like to be, and how to change that.

Read on for:

😎 Realistic advice to reach productivity and happiness

💅 Tricks to trick your brain proven by psychology

🔥 Handy tools that will help you crush your to-do-list

Fewer productivity hacks, more flow states 😎

 

Have you ever been so immersed in a book, a tennis match, or a melody that time seemed to slow down, and nothing else mattered? You, my friend, are experiencing the “flow state during those glorious times.” 

In 1975 Csikszentmihalyi came up with this term to prove that a good and fulfilled life is achieved through complete immersion in whatever we do. When we reach more flow states, our work becomes so rewarding that all our worries seem to fade away. 

But eek- We’re in 2022, and lots of distractions seem to be getting in the way of creating a life full of “flow” moments. Here are the most common productivity culprits freelancers face and how you can solve them.

🤳 Easily distracted? Boundaries and scheduled scrolling

In today's always-on world of work, it can be hard to stay focused. Constant pings and notifications have us convinced we must always be available—but this kind of availability has a price in lost productivity! 

A study from the University of California supports that: on average, after being distracted by something else for just moments people take 23 minutes or more to regain their focus. 

Solution:

The easiest productivity hack? Do less. By that we mean: do less things at the same time. It’s important to set clear boundaries, manage expectations, schedule distractions and plan your day. Oh and stick to it.

How to apply:

Boundary-setting is hard, especially with clients. You don’t want to leave them hanging for a response, and it seems so quick to just reply to that Slack or email when you see it. But if you were in the middle of doing something else, say, writing a blog post, that quick message could set you back those 23 minutes. At the end of the day, this adds up and gets you frustrated. So, communicate clearly to clients that you will not always respond instantly to them on either Slack or email. Try this for size:

  • Before we start working together, I just want to communicate some of my communication etiquette! I have designated times of the day/week when I check on my messages. That way I don’t get distracted when working for you and other people reach out. Here are the moments I’m in my inbox and on Slack and when you can expect a response.

Scheduling distractions might seem silly, but it works wonders. Instead of letting your phone sit by the side of your laptop, put it away and schedule 20 minutes of social media scrolling for after lunch, or at any other time. You trick your brain by telling it that it has something to look forward to. And chances are, once you start your scheduled scrolling, those TikToks seem silly and you’ll want to get back to work to just finish it. Bonus tip: schedule something nice for yourself to look forward to after the work is done. No, not at a given time, because then you will just drag along work until then, just when it’s done.

⏱ Work during peak performance and move on

If you fall into a spiraling black hole between the hours of 8-11 am and lose complete track of time, you need to trigger a sense of urgency and peak performance. 

Solution:

Here’s the productivity hack we’re going for: every 90-120 minutes, your body boosts energy and alertness to perform amazingly, followed by a fatigue sign that tells your brain: “I need a chill pill. ”This is called the ultradian performance rhythm. 

How to apply:

Write down specific tasks for that day. 

  • Use a Pomodoro timer to work with 25 minutes of focus and 5 minutes of chill time.
  • After 60-90 minutes of work (an ultradian session), take a 20-30 minute break.
  • Go out for a walk, answer messages out of your desk—be free and happy. *We recommend 2-3 ultradian sessions per day- and committing to a fun personal activity before or after.

🤖 Maximize productivity with admin automation

Chances are, a lot of your productivity is getting wasted on tasks you don’t even want to be doing *cough* like taxes and admin *cough*. Time to make them more efficient, so you can use that brainpower for anything else.

Solution:

This productivity hack won’t make you work faster, but it will make you work less, which saves you not just time but also energy. 

One of the keys to stay productive is to outsource or automate your work as much as possible. Corgee has got you covered from creating invoices to sending all your Q3 admin to your accountant, in just two clicks. 

For freelancers, admin takes up on average 23 percent of their time. Creating invoices, chasing them, paying bills, you name it. In a 40 hour week, that’s 9.2 hours. Yikes. 

Corgee speeds up a lot of the admin processes. You can:

  • Send invoices within a minute straight from the app.
  • Scan and record your expenses. Just take a picture of the receipt, and the app automatically takes care of it.
  • Share data with your accountant and the tax agency in just a few clicks. 
  • See all your finances in one place: who has paid, what social security payments are going up and how much taxes you owe.

How to apply:
  • Map the repeating tasks that you are doing daily/weekly/monthly
  • Prioritize those that take the most of your time.
  • Automate or outsource to dedicated freelancing tools like Corgee mobile app for iOS and Android. 

🎯 Pick a few battles and a realistic plan to win them 

Humans can juggle balls (or, in some exceptional cases, balls of fire), but we can’t juggle more than three goals per week at once. What productivity hack should you use when your to-do list seems endless?

Solution:

Identify your MIT, your Most Important Thing and focus on solving just that. If you start the day with this, it won’t loom over you like a big scary thing and afterwards you’ll have more brain space left for other tasks. 

How to apply: 

First, you’ve got to identify your MIT. It’ll be the scariest and most challenging goal of them all. Schedule it during your peak performance time. Do it, brace yourself, and continue. Your self-esteem will be ready to conquer the rest of your tasks. 

💚 Create healthy habits to motivate you: 

Your productivity shouldn’t be more important than your mental health as a freelancer. In fact, the two go hand in hand. Sometimes productivity is lagging because you don’t manage to build habits to work on your goals. Unlike the flow state, some habits are hard to keep because they… bore us. 

Solution:

Our favorite productivity hack, is taking care of yourself. Dive into that mind of yours and learn to work with it, not against it. Check out James Clear’s Atomic Habits formula to trick your brain into building a routine and reaching your goal

How to apply: 

Here’s an example for a person that wants to learn Italian. Use these steps for any new habit or goal in mind. 

  • Make it evident: Hang a motivational quote in Italian near your desk
  • Create a craving: Create a list of Italian movies you want to watch without subtitles.
  • Manage your response: Make it simple. Schedule two online classes per week.
  • Get a reward: Promise you’ll buy a ticket to Italy if you ace all exams.

Want more tips like these? Subscribe to our newsletter and join our Slack channel to share productivity hacks and more with other freelancers in Spain!

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