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The Lazy and Disorganized Freelancer’s Guide to Productivity and Organization

by Anna Rodriquez

No matter how much you deny it, having your own time table tends to give way for laziness. As a freelancer staying in your home office, it’s assumed that organizing is not at the top of your list (or anywhere near it). Maybe you even reason out that you actually love that brainstorming-clutter-infested room of yours. But amidst your comfy coffee-stained sweatshirt and week-long sweatpants, you’re wishing for a genie to swoop in and do some cleaning. Fear not, though this is far from any fairy tale, you can do magic yourself with these easy steps for productivity and organization:

1. Name your files. Label your files with client-specific folders. This saves you time on searching for those impossible projects and lessens the risk of mixing them altogether. Yikes!

2. Label your equipment. Put them in specific cases to make them easily identifiable. Avoid the trouble of having to go through all of them so you can always be on-the-go. Remember to put them back as soon as you finish a project to prepare for the next work day (e.g., charge all batteries, clean equipment, etc.).

3. Keep an up-to-date worksheet. Having an immense workload might cause you to forget some projects. Keep an up-to-date record of your clients, projects, dates, and even paycheck, so it’ll be easier to update your resume later on.

4. Keep a contact list. List all important contact numbers such as those of your clients and important people you know and need for work (ex. a cheap printing company)

5. Set a specific time for work. Or at least allot only a certain number of hours so you won’t constantly find yourself working at ungodly hours. Allocate a specific time for opening and answering emails and checking social media. Abusing your body and mind will only make you unproductive.

6. Set a routine. Get your body to cooperate with your work schedule to avoid the “I’m-just-not-in-the-zone-today” dilemma and actually get things done.

7. Remove noise. No, you don’t have to terminate your neighbor’s dog. Noise is anything that distracts you, however subtly. Despite what you may think, turning your TV or radio on while working doesn’t really help you at all.

8. Dedicate a work space. Find a spot where you can get the most work done. Respect it and don’t allow anything that’s unrelated to work touch it or even “invade” it. Yes, Xbox has to go. That means you too, Wii.

9. Keep everything you need within reach. This saves you time from looking for them and let’s face it, stops your procrastinating. Yep, you heard that right – stop your procrastinating. Know all the essential tools you’ll need in your home or condo office.

10. Break down tasks. Break big tasks into simpler, doable ones. Keep track of your progress with a simple checklist. It’ll leave you feeling accomplished after every completed task.

11. Prioritize. What you don’t want is realizing later on that you just spent hours on a project that’s due next week when you haven’t even started on the one that’s due tomorrow. Identify the more important projects – might be the harder or more urgent ones – and do them first.

12. Eugene Schwartz’ 33-minute rule. For every task you do, set your timer for 33 minutes. When the alarm sounds, drop everything and take a break. This will help you clear your mind and get going for later.

13. Set realistic goals. Nothing is more frustrating than finding yourself constantly behind schedule. Set goals that can be realistically met with the right amount of time it will actually take you to finish. Meet those deadlines first and eventually improve your work performance.

14. Evaluate your performance. At the end of the day, see where you can and need to make improvements. Reinvent your work habits if need be for greater efficiency.

15. Take occasional breaks. It’s helpful to take your mind off things for new ideas to spur out. Stretch and take a walk. Go to a coffee shop or the park for inspiration.

16. Reward yourself. All work and no play is a lousy way to live out your freelancing career. Reward yourself with a movie or an out-of-town trip. This refreshes your perspective on things, especially your work.

17. Focus on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is not necessarily more productive. Being entirely focused on accomplishing one task is better than juggling two with half the attention and quality.

19. Learn to say no. You’re a professional, not Superman. Don’t force yourself to commit to something and just “wing it” later lest you risk losing clients or worse, your credibility.

20. Go back to your vision. Evaluate your work progress and see whether it’s leading you towards your vision. Busying yourself too much might get you off-track without you realizing it.

21. Plan ahead. Plan tomorrow’s schedule at the end of today. Avoid unpleasant surprises and the I-underestimated-my-workload scenario. Prepare for tomorrow as early as now.

22. Respect yourself. And respect the time you set for yourself per task. Our greatest enemy and negotiator/accomplice is ourselves. Don’t allow lapses in your schedule. Commit to the time you gave yourself.

Also, with today’s technological advancements, what can’t you do? Fortunately, the big guys came up with programs designed to help you make the most of your precious time!

Take note of these guidelines and you’ll soon find yourself evolving to a better, likable, and less-stressed version of yourself. With a stronger coffee on your hand, and a slightly cleaner set of pajamas, you’re ready to tackle the world once again!

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