What would happen if you do the things you want to do first?
Note: this freelance productivity hack only works for you if you don’t have a job. If you have the freedom in your life to decide when and how to work and if you feel like you want to restore your life/work balance. This might be something for you.
This is an experiment.
Working as a freelancer, for example, web developer, web designer, copyrighter or webshop-owner, you have probably more freedom scheduling your work.
But in reality, you spend more time ‘working’. You find yourself working long days because there is always something that needs your attention.
If you don’t watch out, clients start approaching you at the weekends, others in the evening and the early birds in the early morning. Even when they tell you that they don’t expect an answer directly, you often feel like you have too, otherwise, your mind keeps thinking about it and you feel like you are not giving the best service.
So, instead of enjoying this freedom, you find yourself spending all day thinking about your work.
When you are out with friends you think about work. When you are exercises you think about work. When you are with your girlfriend you think about work.
I can tell from my own freelance experience that I felt guilty when I didn’t work between 9 and 5, it felt like a was cheating, that I was not serious about it.
But slowly, everything started to evolve about work. And then you start resisting your work, which makes it even worse.
And then there are times that there is no project, no money coming in, stress levels go up. Then there are times that you do 4 projects at the same time. The ups and downs are more extreme because they directly affect your income.
Image your monthly paycheck changed every month. If there is no work for you, you boss don’t pay you. That’s the stress you feel as a freelancer many times.
It was time to take my life back
One day I was so tired of it that I decided to make a change. I wrote down what things I wanted to do and decided that I spend the afternoons working on them. The mornings I would spend on my work.
Sound like a good idea?
It wasn’t. The reality: you wake up, the first thing you think about is the work you have to do. With resistance, you get up and make breakfast and go to your office. You start on your first project, you send your client an e-mail that the work is done. You start the other project. There is a flow, but your mind is thinking about the list of all the things you want to do, besides work.
When the afternoon starts, a client calls you, she wants a little change in the work you delivered. Then you receive an e-mail about the second project. And you decided to fix it right away, but slowly it’s eating your afternoon away.
When you leave the office, another e-mail. It’s work-related and needs to be done today.
Conclusion: Taking the time in the afternoon for yourself doesn’t work so well.
Do the things you want to do in the morning
After 2 weeks of trying, I noticed: this is not going to work. And then it hit me, why not turn it around?
I decided to work in the afternoon. From 2 pm to 6 or 8 pm. Still 6 hours at best.
I also made it very clear to me. I defined work as declarable hours. Joining business meetings, going to workshops, writing blogs, doing administration, are not declarable, so they will not happen in between 2pm and 8pm.
This gave me clarity: if I wanted to join a workshop or business meeting, it’s at the expense of my ‘free time’.
Already after week one, I started to feel the benefits.
- I wake up with more enthusiasm.
- So I wake up earlier.
- The earlier I wake up, the more ‘free time’ I have.
- It’s okay if my morning run or exercises take longer. I don’t feel bad anymore when I finish at 10 am or later.
- I’m more productive. I start writing, I start drawing and I read more.
- I feel accomplishment at the end of the morning.
- I created so much flow and energy in the morning, that I can bring this back to my work in the afternoon.
- My productivity went up during my working hours. Because of my limited time, I’m more productive, I guess the time you have for work is the time you spend on work.
- I don’t mind working till 8 pm. And I feel free when I’m done, still another part of the day I can use to socialize and do the things I like.
If you have this feeling that you need a break, the feeling that your freelance work overwhelms you. Try this Freelance Productivity hack:
Start at 2 pm with your work, and do the things that give you energy and fulfillment in the mornings. Use your morning time wisely. Make a list of the things you really want or need to do in your life. Maybe spending more time with family, learn more about something, write, draw, exercise or meditate. It’s up to you.