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10 life hacking tips every freelancer needs to know

Whether you are an experienced freelancer that has been in the game for years or just getting started, it’s always good to consider ways to improve yourself. It’s no secret that freelancing can be demanding. There are so many moving parts and issues that you have to be on top of, that it’s easy to feel lost.

That’s why we’ve made this list of tips that you can use to make things easier. These tips on freelancing will cover various topics that can help make your job easier to manage. With that said, let’s dive straight in.

Research your client

Firstly, you should be looking into:

  • What the budget and payment rates of your client is
  • Whether they are known to be demanding or flexible
  • What their method of managing their contractors are

There are also more industry-specific aspects to look out for during your research. For example, if you are a graphic designer, you might want to know if this client has an established style preference that they use frequently.

It’s generally easy to find the information you need through a quick Googling session if you’re working with a multinational, well-known company; you can also turn to freelancer communities for tips to get to know that client better and hear the experience of peers who have worked with them before.

It’s trickier if you’re going to work with a smaller company. In that case, your research might require an open line of communication with the client directly which will allow you to get the info you need.

Create neat contracts

Creating a good contract is a beneficial skill to develop, and will save you from lots of potential headaches down the line. Simply, a contract is a document that details the working relationship between you and your client. While this is the gist of it, you should do your best to make your contracts as comprehensive as possible. Your contract should serve as a guide that irons out all possible details and questions that could arise throughout the freelance project.

It should balance both you and your client’s needs, while detailing fundamental issues like payment terms, scheduling and deadlines, and any other arrangements that might need to be made. Creating quality contracts is one of the best tips on freelancing successfully, as it might help any disagreements to get resolved quickly. You can use agreement templates by third-parties like Ruul to easily prepare legally binding and compliant contracts.

Master time management

Learn time zones and use time scheduling apps

The adage “time is money” refers to the importance of managing your time in the smartest way. Being a freelancer, you have the opportunity to work with clients from different time zones, as opposed to a regular office worker. However, you should assess how this might affect you. If you are working with a client who is overseas, where there is a seven-hour difference, you should beware that this will change your work schedule.

One way to help figure this out is to use time-scheduling apps, which can come in handy when organizing your schedule. Time management and tracking apps can help you track how you spend your time and make you more efficient. They can facilitate increasing your productivity.

Set a daily work schedule

In the same vein as creating a to-do list, you should strive to create a daily work schedule to help you stay on top of tasks. Creating daily tasks is a great way to break down the things you need to do into bite-sized bits that are easier to handle. Make sure the goals you put on your schedule are concrete objectives that you can achieve, instead of writing down vague goals. You will feel productive and accomplished when you tick them off one by one.

Perfect the Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique which you can use to balance your working and resting periods. This technique breaks up your time into periods of work and rest to focus wholly on one or the other.

According to the Pomodoro technique, you spend 25 minutes working, take a 5-minute break, and repeat this cycle four times. After the fourth cycle, you take an extended break of around 25 minutes. During these periods of either work or rest, you are to focus exclusively on either one or the other, which means you don’t browse social media apps when working or don’t check emails while resting.

Read job descriptions closely

Growing up, my mother would always tell me, “look before you leap”. While it was great practical advice for a small child that loved running and jumping everywhere, it might also be useful for you as a freelancer. Always pay attention to the details in the job description. These might include:

  • The payment amount
  • The project deadline
  • The additional responsibilities
  • Potential third parties that could be involved

Paying close attention to job descriptions is among the great freelancing tips for beginners because you’ll be selecting jobs that work best for you. Be sure to find whatever information you can about the job/project that you are considering taking on before contacting the client.

Switch up your to-do list

The to-do list is a tried and true method used by millions of people to get things done. So, you might be wondering why you should switch anything up. The answer is that you can make your to-do list a more effective tool. For example, for some people, to-do lists quickly become a never-ending checklist of things that never get done.

Some freelance productivity-boosting tips could include:

  • Limiting yourself to 3-5 daily tasks
  • Deciding on due dates or schedule times to complete tasks
  • Making more than one list to separate personal tasks from professional ones
  • Doing tasks that are easy to complete first to gain momentum

Socialize frequently

Socializing isn’t just an excellent way to have fun and connect with friends or make new ones. It gives you a chance to network and develop professional relationships. The benefits of networking could include:

  • Staying up-to-date with your industry and related news
  • Making valuable connections that can prove beneficial for your career
  • Expanding your potential client pool
  • Gaining recommendations from your colleagues
  • Learning tools and tricks of the trade

Socializing then becomes a way to both have a good time and leverage possible advantages for your solo career.

Design your workspace

If you’re going to be spending significant time at your desk or workstation, you might consider designing it to fit your specific needs. Your workstation doesn’t need to be just a bastion of productivity. It should be a place where you feel comfortable mentally and physically. It should match your interests, needs, and habits. For example, if you’re into fitness or concerned about back pain, you can look into a standing desk.

Minimize multitasking

Do you want to know a secret? No one is really good at multitasking. Some people reading this are probably vehemently disagreeing, but it’s true. By all accounts, our brains aren’t designed to work on two or more tasks simultaneously. This might actually lead to worse comprehension, lack of concentration, and decreased productivity.

When you have multiple tasks that you need to handle, it’s best to focus on one at a time and do what you can to prevent one task from “bleeding over” into the other. While this might be difficult at times for interrelated tasks, do your best to complete one task at a time to avoid losing focus altogether.

Limit your social media usage

All good things come in moderation, which can also be said for social media. Even if we were to ignore many of the potentially harmful effects of social media addiction, there are other reasons to limit the time you spend on social media. The biggest reason is your productivity. It’s hard to get work done when you’re distracted by memes your friend sends you on Instagram. So, know when and how to use social media and be careful it doesn’t distract you from your work.

Don’t have the willpower to keep off social media on your own? You can get help from a focus tool such as Forest which is available as an app and a browser extension. The gamified timer does not allow you to use certain apps or websites as it’s running and keeps you focused. At the end of each “focus session,” you grow a tree which allows you to track your productivity in a fun gamified way.

Learn how to stop procrastinating

I have a bit of a confession to make here. I am a serial procrastinator, guilty of everything you can think of when it comes to avoiding work. I’ve asked myself, “why do I procrastinate” and then procrastinate about solving the issue. Still, it begs us to ask how to stop procrastinating.

It’s hard to give a single definition of procrastination. Still, if we have to, it could be explained as the habit of constantly delaying completing tasks by wasting time doing irrelevant stuff. There are many ways to combat procrastination that you can try, according to your characteristics and needs. Find the combination that works for you and make it into a habit, because procrastination is something that you’ll have to deal with continuously.

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Leon Cordier
An American writer curious for work trends and freelancing ecosystem.

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