How to stay productive as a freelance web designer

How to stay productive as a freelance web designer

calendar 2018-07-27 time 6 min READ

Digital nomads and freelancers, in general, tend to face some very unique challenges. While pursuing entrepreneurial ventures might provide you with the liberty to choose exactly when, where and how you want to live and work, you will definitely encounter obstacles at some point. Freelancers usually spend a lot of time stuck to their computers, whereas remote work is known to leave people feeling lonely and isolated.

Remote workers find themselves operating out of their area of expertise while constantly being challenged with the burden that is today’s self-promotion, as well as the struggles associated with client and time management, sending invoices and chasing after your payments and most importantly, figuring out how to remain productive regardless of the situation you find yourself in. So here are some of the tips and tricks you can use to maintain productivity during your work as a freelance web designer.

Create a routine around your work

Besides the usual design-related issues, freelance web designers often make the mistake of setting themselves up for failure by creating unrealistic and often, unachievable goals. If you haven’t worked in a while before finding your current client, make sure to start off easy. You don’t have to work for 10 hours straight starting from day one. In fact, a steady stream of work is far more effective in developing healthy habits, setting achievable goals and creating a routine around your tasks. And while we’re on the subject of tasks…

Always plan ahead

Set a plan for your tasks, including the time it would take you to finish them and the number of tasks per day. This doesn’t have to be set in stone but knowing what’s ahead can help you orchestrate your day and make sure you stay on the agenda. Large web development projects should always be broken down into more manageable chunks or individual tasks in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed with work. If you’re unsure on what type of work to expect, just look for the most recent web design trends and you’ll see exactly what to expect from your clients.

Not all tasks carry the same weight. Granted, you can finish the tasks in the same order they arrive from the client but prioritizing your work will help you avoid missing your deadlines due to spending too much time on tasks that are simply not that urgent. You can easily avoid this by attaching deadlines to your projects and individual tasks. Whether it’s a minor milestone date or a deadline for project completion, meeting them is crucial for keeping your clients happy.

Don’t be afraid to turn away clients

Turning away clients is equally as important as finding them. Novice freelancers often accept any job that falls into their hands to improve the ratings on their profile. But thinking long-term, turning away clients is actually a good way to avoid becoming overworked. Consider whether or not you’re actually passionate about the project, how long will it take you to complete it and how easy it is to work with that client. Getting strapped for cash is perfectly understandable but be careful about adding new projects into your current workload and only accept job offers you know you’re able to finish within the given deadline.

Only focus on a single task at any given time

Trying to finish multiple tasks at the same time can only slow your overall progress. As appealing as multitasking may sound, the truth is that you’re simply not as efficient when your focus is all over the place instead of being set on a single task. Furthermore, multitasking creates room for errors and errors need to be fixed. Instead of going forward with your work and focusing on the tasks ahead, you now have to go back and redo something that should have been done well in the first place. Additionally, revisiting tasks breaks any momentum you might have had and drastically decreases your productivity.

Tackle to most urgent tasks first

Imagine you have five tasks to finish by the end of the day. The first four are simple, 5-minute commitments, but the last one is a major update that needs to be finished today. The vast majority of people would clear the smaller tasks first, putting off the big task at a later time. But this type of behavior can easily come back to haunt you for two reasons: being late and missing deadlines happens more often than you think and, more importantly, you are not prioritizing your tasks.

One of the biggest issues freelancers face is keeping track of different payment for different clients. It’s easy to get lost with all the dates and numbers, but the same principle you use for accomplishing tasks can be applied to your payments. Create a template for your invoices and attach it to a reminder you will make in your calendar. Google Calendar is free and can be synced across different devices, but it lacks any additional functionality. On the other hand, time tracking apps are excellent for tracking, analyzing and effectively managing your time and keeping track of different commitments you have towards your clients.

Manage your distractions

Getting distracted is easy, especially when you’re doing repetitive jobs or working long shifts. That’s why it’s important to identify exactly what is distracting you and why. Constantly looking at your phone might be a sign that you’re getting tired and taking a break is a far better idea than forcing yourself to work.

On the other hand, take too many breaks and you’ll lose all focus and productivity. Include break time when you schedule your tasks and don’t be afraid to take a breather when you have to. That said, clear the room of any distractions you can think of before starting work and set your phone to silent. You’ll get around those notifications the sooner you finish work.

Conclusion

Meeting the schedule and keeping up with different clients on a regular basis can be stressful and exhausting and it’s very easy to get distracted and fall behind the schedule when you’re not getting enough rest. As you created a routine around your work, create one around your sleep. Try going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day and avoid using your phone and computer right before going to bed. Prioritize sleep the same way you prioritize your tasks in order to ensure optimal levels of productivity in the long run.