We were down at my family’s beach house last week with my sister, who also happens to be a freelancer. Naturally, we were both working while on vacation. The beauty of self-employment and freelancing!
So we’re sitting at the table, laptops out, hoping to wrap up some work before hitting the beach. I was telling her about the assignment that I had to finish, and she asked me how much it paid.
When I told her the amount, she said, “that shouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes.” I thought about it for a second and realized that she was right.
I didn’t need to drag this assignment out any longer than it needed to be. After all, we had to get the beach at some point! But in all seriousness, time is money and the time that it takes to do a job for the rate that you’re receiving has to be a part of the calculation.
So how could I get it done in just 15 minutes without being distracted by thoughts of warm sand between my toes? Keep on reading…
Your hourly rate matters
When it comes to freelancing, your hourly rate is something that you have to stay on top of. You get to decide how much (or how little) you’re willing to work for, and then you need to find those clients who recognize your value.
Let’s be honest, you can easily screw yourself over by accepting assignments that require a lot of research and thought, but that pay a pitiful hourly rate. I’ve been there, especially when I was just getting started.
You have to determine your hourly rate and figure out how much time an assignment should take before you accept, and then stick to that time.
Unsure if you’re charging enough? Here’s a great post for freelancers detailing how to calculate your hourly rate.
Managing time by avoiding distractions
I tend to drag out simple assignments, just because I am so easily distracted. Something that would take me 15-20 minutes can turn into an hour or more. I’ll keep stopping to go off and do something else, open new tabs in my browser, check Twitter, etc.
It’s incredibly unproductive, I know! Distraction and procrastination can kill my hourly rate if I let them.
Are you a procrastinator too?
Good time management skills are critical when freelancing and working from home.
Here’s where we get to the good stuff. My one super simple trick that helps keep me on track so I can write faster and get more done.
How to Stop Procrastinating
As I gave it some more thought, that afternoon I realized that I could stick to a self-imposed time limit and increase my productivity simply by…
Setting a timer.
Seriously! Why didn’t I think of this before?!
So I simply set the stopwatch on my smartphone and get busy writing.
That first time that I tried this super simple productivity, I set the timer for 15 minutes. I closed all other tabs and got to work on an easy, short blog post assignment. I put the phone aside so that I wouldn’t be tempted to look and see how many minutes I had left.
In just 15 minutes, I had produced a brief post that I was happy with. I spell checked it and proofread it. I made the tweaks and corrections where needed.
I hit “send” on the file, and was ready to hit the beach!
Mission accomplished, and without distractions.
If you struggle to stay focused like me, I recommend giving this freelancing productivity hack a try. Writing online can be especially tough because the internet offers so many distractions. You can still produce quality work and cut down on the time that it takes by simply holding yourself accountable.
Do you have a productivity hack that helps you to stay focused?