As a self-employed professional, your livelihood depends on your ability to consistently remain productive. However, it's all too common for a work session to turn into a blogging session or YouTube video marathon. These distractions cut into your bottom line by decreasing your output exponentially.
If you have trouble staying on task for a long period of time, start applying the tips below to skyrocket your productivity:
1. Keep social networking to a minimum. Avoid checking your accounts several times per hour. Social media marketing can be valuable to your business, but checking your Twitter, Facebook or other social networking messages too often can often waste hours throughout the day.
- Limit the number of times you allow yourself to check your messages each day. Check for new messages in the morning, during lunch, and in the evening before bedtime. That way, social networking keeps its proper place instead of stealing opportunities.
2. Maintain a clean office. A cluttered space can cause a mental block that can last several hours. Ensure that your work surface is clutter free and that any unnecessary paperwork is tucked away. Make use of file cabinets, storage boxes, and bookcases.
- Before you leave your office each evening, take a few minutes to clear any clutter. Just five minutes of maintenance every day can make a big difference in the peace you feel as you begin each new workday.
3. Define your “visiting hours.” If you work at home, you're likely familiar with the frustration of family members popping into your office to chat. Make it clear that when you're working, trivial interruptions must wait until your scheduled break time. Hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your office door to keep interruptions at bay.
- If you work from home, but your workspace is set up in a highly trafficked area, try noise-blocking headphones to eliminate the sounds around you. Separate your workspace with a curtain or a bookshelf to maximize your privacy.
4. Clear all distractions. When you're working on your proposal or project, it's easy to let your mind wander. Use software to block websites that are known to cause lulls in your productivity. And ignore calls that are not related to your business while in the office.
- As long as you're prompt in returning a call, it's perfectly acceptable to send a client's call to voicemail. In fact, save time by offering email as your main point of contact. Often, a 45-minute conversation could be reduced to one or two very short emails back and forth.
5. Make your health a priority. To keep your mind strong and maintain an appropriate workflow, make wise choices and take care of your body. If you do, you'll have more energy to tackle your to-do list and more will get done. Stay away from heavy foods. Exercise on a regular basis and make sure you receive a good amount of sleep each night.
- For best results, exercise in the early morning before starting work. It'll give you an energy jolt that's better than coffee, and boosts your mood with no crash later.
6. Work in spurts. Most independent professionals find it best to work in sets of 15 to 45 minutes. Work through this time without any bathroom breaks, phone calls, or time wasting Web surfing.
- After completing your spurt, take a short five to ten minute break and begin working on your second spurt of uninterrupted work time.
7. Take regular breaks. Once you get started on a project, it can be easy to lose track of time and forget about breaks. However, short, regular breaks are essential to the effectiveness of your work and your overall health. Take a five minute break every hour in order to reap the highest rewards.
- Step away from the computer on a regular basis to prevent repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel, backaches, and eyestrain.
8. Work according to your own schedule. You're no longer part of the rat race. Therefore, if you aren't reaching your productivity peak during the 9-to-5 schedules, change it up a bit.
- Many freelancers find that they're most productive in the early morning hours of 5 am to 12 pm. Or, if you're a night owl, turn those sleepless nights into money making hours by cranking out some work.
9. Create a comfortable work area. If you have to hunch your back to reach your short desk, back pain and discomfort will hinder your effectiveness. Furnish your office with a desk and chair that are the right height for you. Stay away from bright wall colors that distract you from your work.
- Cooler tones are ideal wall colors for an office area. They promote effective thinking and soothe your eyes.
10. Visualize your reward. Motivate yourself to increase your productivity by imagining how great you'll feel once the project is done. Imagine the financial rewards. Feel the pride you experience when your work is praised. Imagine how your family will benefit.
- For many people, money is the biggest motivator. Create a wish list on your favorite shopping website, and buy an item on the list each time you complete a big project or achieve a challenging goal.
As an independent professional, you can function at maximum capacity. You have control of your time, and these ideas will help you to make the most of it. Choose one or more of these ideas today and begin to experience the personal, business, and financial success you deserve.
photo credit: Blogging Bookshelf