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How to Stay Productive and Motivated as a Freelancer

How to Stay Productive and Motivated as a Freelancer

Being a freelancer is beneficial in many ways. You can focus more on your work without typical distractions and you can get things done quicker and more efficiently. But once you’re over your freelance honeymoon period, you might find yourself struggling to keep up with your motivation and staying productive. They call it ‘losing the hustle’, but it’s really more about losing your focus. Trust me, I’ve been there.

We all get to a place where at some point, it seems like we’re on an autopilot. There were countless of times when weekends just flew by and I kept asking myself what day it is and I couldn’t believe that it’s Monday all over again. At some point, I also fell into a loop of thinking how much I don’t enjoy freelancing anymore. But as it happens with every single job you have in your life, that loop comes and goes and this is precisely how you can stay productive and motivated as a freelancer.

Disclaimer: I’m not sponsored by any company or app mentioned in this blog – these are all real opinions.

  1. Have an overview of your projects

I used to be the type of person that has everything in their head and I was able to pull information on everything without having to check my diary. From meetings to tasks I was required to do, I was able to recite them all. But once I started receiving more and more clients, I realized I need to put everything in a single place. I’m NOT sponsored by either of these tools, but they’re the most effective things you can get to make sure you have a clear overview of your projects.

I use Trello to plan my week ahead. I got inspired by the template one of my clients shared with me because I realized it’s really effective and helps me get my work done. Here’s how I organize everything:

Yellow labels mean that it’s in the works, orange labels mean I need to hear back from my client, and green labels mean that the task is done and the client’s been informed. I do this every single week to make sure I have a clear overview of my tasks and can prioritize necessary things.

  • Google Calendar

I’m the type that uses my phone for everything – I even set a timer alarm to remind me that my tea’s now ready to drink. But Google Calendar is my favorite app for just about anything else. Any meeting, any Skype call, any invoice reminder, basically anything goes in my Google Calendar. I make sure I set up email notifications and alerts for 2 days before as well as 2 hours before to never miss my meetings.

I use Togg.l just to see how much time I actually spend procrastinating when I should be working. It’s honestly quite embarrassing, but it’s a fantastic motivator to keep me going and actually realize when I need to take a break. Apart from that, I also give time reports to all non-Upwork clients I work with. 

  1. Schedule ‘me time’

I learned how easy it is to just work until the end of time, especially if you’re getting paid just for the time you work. Admittedly, this is one of the things I miss about working in-house – every minute counts and taking breaks means you won’t get paid. But ‘me time’ is important. I don’t start working before 10am and take at least 4 hours every day for myself. Whether that means sleeping, meditating, working out or anything else. I try to not indulge in any work activities.

Apps I use to stay healthy:

  • Headspace or Calm
  • Forest – Forest helps you stay focused without checking your phone – good for work productivity, but also good or taking the time away from technology. Plus you plant cute forests along the way!
  • 7-minute workout
  1. Let go of clients when it’s time

One of the things I learned the hard way was in order to stay motivated and productive, freelancers have the power to let go of their clients at any point they feel like it’s not going to work out. Switching jobs quickly is never a good sign, but as a freelancer, you have the ability to do this as soon as your projects are over. I love all my long-term clients and have worked with some for over two years, but I also get extremely motivated whenever I bring a new client on board. Job hopping is never okay in the typical in-house world, but getting new clients and expanding my portfolio is one of the most exciting and refreshing moments of being a freelancer.

How to find new clients:

  1. Go out of town

I’m definitely trying to do more of traveling for 2018. I feel like a different scenery is essential to staying productive and motivated as a freelancer. We’re often stuck in a very unsocial environment, considering we don’t really have co-workers right next to us. So changing scenery is refreshing, motivational, and a fantastic reminder why you chose this career in the first place. Even if it just means working from a cafe and listening to office people complain about their coworkers.

How to find cheap and last-minute flights to get away from it all:

How to Stay Productive and Motivated as a Freelancer

  1. Find your crew

One of the best things I’ve done as a freelancer is surrounding myself with people who are doing exactly the same thing. It’s the best way to stay motivated. Surround yourself with those who are able to bring the best in you. I live in a place that’s totally catered to freelancers. It allows people to meet each other and share ideas. Without it, I’d definitely be more lost, especially in London.  

What do you do to stay motivated and productive as a freelancer? Let’s have a discussion! 

A Day In The Life of a Freelance Content Manager
Digital Nomad Guides, Freelance

A Day In The Life of a Freelance Content Manager

Hey! My name is Mandy and I’ve been a freelance content manager for about 2 years. I work with real estate and tech industries and help them catapult their content marketing plans and strategies to a new level. If this was a YouTube video, it’d be super cheesy and would probably involve at least one breakdown as I try to chase up one of my clients who goes through stages of hibernation – but I wanted to show you what a day in the life of a freelance content manager is actually like.

A Day In The Life of a Freelance Content Manager

I love what I do – but I’d lie if I’d say that this is easy work. So enjoy this little confession as I sit here and avoid filing my tax return for as long as possible (this blog post is a part of my procrastination plan).

A Day In The Life of a Freelance Content Manager

  • 6AM – Up and at ‘em!

6AM is my PR version, but my winter version’s been more like 8-9AM. Don’t judge. I get up, do my usual stuff I do every single day. Shower, some gentle stretching, meditation, I hit the gym, and basically mess around until 10AM. As a rule to make sure I have some ‘me time’ and have a balance, I try not to do any work before 10. During this time, I also check my calendar to see everything I have to do for today. I also overdose on coffee. 

  • 10AM – Work time

I grab a cup of coffee from the shop downstairs from my apartment building and head over to the co-working space, where I usually work 3/7 days per week.

Here’s what I usually do in a day:

  • Check Trello updates for one of my clients
  • Check Slack updates (all of my 5 long-term clients are currently on Slack, which is amazing).
  • Start going through my to-do list, which usually includes:
    • Write at least 2 blog posts for various clients
    • One 2000+ word entertainment script for YouTube (which includes research and watching various TV shows to make sure I know I’m writing about)
    • Spend some time going through content marketing trends and see if I can adapt it to any of my clients
    • Check in with all of my clients about priorities for the week (I usually do this on a Sunday)
    • Schedule meetings (I try to have at least one phone call for a client per week to make sure we’re all on the same page)
    • I create relevant social media posts, which includes making animations for Instagram stories.
    • I watch Leah Remini’s Scientology show in the background

A Day In The Life of a Freelance Content Manager

  • Work breaks

I usually take work breaks during the day and focus on either personal skills, or I go out for a walk / go to central London / take a dance class or a gym class. What I’m currently working on:

  • My illustration skills (enrolled in a Udemy course)
  • After Effects skills (to boost my social media production)
  • Photoshop editing skills (shameless self plug – follow me on Instagram!)
  • I spend at least 30 min analysing marketing strategies
  • I spend an hour on Hootsuite for my personal social media

6-7PM – work is finished

And that’s about it! I usually put in about 50 hours of work per week, which also includes work on improving my skills for the future. But after 7PM, I make sure I have time for myself – this usually includes a meditation class or yoga, and hanging out with people from my apartment building.

  • 11PM – bed

I’m boring and old, so I tend to be ready for bed by 11PM on a good day. I stick to the routine I’ve had as a full time in-office worker and make sure I stick to reading a book rather than being on my laptop all day and all night long. I also make sure I turn on my air diffuser and bring some essential oil therapy into my apartment.

A Day In The Life of a Freelance Content Manager

As I’m currently settling down and getting ready to go back into full time work, I’m not doing much travelling. However, if this was a year ago, I’d probably go on a weekend or a week-long getaway somewhere whenever I wouldn’t have much work to do. It’s an exciting life, really 😉

And that’s it for a day in the life of a freelance content manager! Want to become a freelancer? Make sure to check out my other posts on how to get your first Upwork clients and how to become a digital nomad.

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