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What Freelancing Has Taught Me About Work Productivity

InthisarticleKaylaMatthewstakesalookathowherfreelancingcareerhasaffectedherproductivityandhowitschangedheroutlookonwork
What Freelancing Has Taught Me About Work Productivity

What Freelancing Has Taught Me About Work Productivity

Every job teaches us a little bit more about our work style, but I’ve never learned quite as much about my professional self than I have as a freelancer. Even though I work with remote managers and editors in some cases, there’s only one person I report to: me.

As such, I’ve picked up so many new skills that have made me a better and more productive worker. Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. I’m the Boss

Like I said, being a freelancer has put me in the driver’s seat of my career. Rather than working for a boss or an overarching company, I get to decide what projects I choose, and which ones I pass up.

It’s taught me so much about the business side of my industry — before, I just wrote what I had to without asking too many questions of how the assignment landed on my desk. Now, though, I network and contact businesses, editors, publications, etc., to try and find new opportunities. I have to put myself out there as the face of my company because, well, I’m the boss.

Why It Improves Productivity

Because I’m representing myself, I want to do the best work possible. It inspires me to focus and get things done to the best of my ability the first time around. Laboring through edits and rewrites only loses me money in the long run.

I’ve also been so much more proactive in finding new work to boost my workload and, therefore, my output. Traveling the country, attending conferences and learning more about my industry is another way networking like the boss I am has helped me increase my productivity over time.

2. Communication is Key

This is true of any workplace, but as a freelancer, I’m going it alone. Therefore, I need to be clear with everyone, whether it’s potential new clients or the editor I’ve worked with for years. I don’t have the luxury of popping into someone’s office to clarify every last detail, nor do I have the safety net of a salaried position to cushion me when I make mistakes and have to do re-writes.

Speaking for my skills and for myself has made me such a better communicator. It took some work — I’ve never been the most direct person, especially when it comes to talking about myself. But once you become a freelancer, you’ll learn so much about speaking clearly and succinctly.

Why It Improves Productivity

Clearly, this has made all my professional pursuits simpler. I’m transparent about what I can do, how much I expect to get paid for it, how much time I need, etc. I also take time to clarify what’s expected of me so I can turn around just what my client wants.

With an open line of communication, I’ve found other ways to increase my productivity that run parallel to speaking simply. For example, there are some apps which allow me to collaborate with my clients or editors to get work done quicker than we would if we sent it back and forth.

Even though this is a virtual form of communication, it’s communication nonetheless — and opening yourself to new avenues makes you better at it.

3. It’s All About Location

Once upon a time, I woke up and went into the office for eight hours a day. As much as I love freelancing, the traditional workplace does have its merits. For one, it helped me get focused quickly and block out the classic distractions that come with working from home.

Although I do work at home, I’ve realized that I can’t do it without a space dedicated just to my work. I’ve carved out a corner in the guest bedroom where I can have a desk with plenty of room for my computer and scratch pads where I brainstorm and doodle until I’m ready to start writing. I always need good light and a little bit of artwork to inspire me, too.

Why It Improves Productivity

If I’m distracted, well…I’m not going to finish my work. The same goes for moving from the kitchen table, to the sofa, to the nearest Starbucks and back. If I have my own desk that’s for work only, I’ll sit down and get into a productive mindset sooner. Without a designated workspace, it’s hard to effectively work remotely.

Work for You, Learn From You

Before, you picked up new skills from classes, a new job or a workplace mentor. Now, though, it’s up to you to learn and grow from working solo. Fortunately, there’s plenty to learn that’ll make you a better self-employed person — and the skills you pick up will undoubtedly make you more productive in this role and beyond.

About The Author
Kayla Matthews is a lifestyle and productivity writer whose work has been featured on Lifehacker, The Next Web, MakeUseOf and Inc.com. You can read more posts from Kayla here
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