I worked as an employee until I had my first baby and never considered starting my own business before this life-changing event. I was productive at work because I had a boss and targets but how would I behave when I was my own boss? Could I be a productive freelance writer while looking after a baby?
You know what? I loved it and I thrived!
I quickly realised that if I was to be successful as a freelance writer and copywriter, I needed to learn a few productivity tricks – I had limited time and I needed to make a decent income.
Yes, like other freelancers, I also read loads of articles on how to be productive when working from home BUT many of these didn’t work for me mainly because I am a different person and the only time I had to work was when my baby napped.
Working at night while bub slept wasn’t an option in the first few months because…night feeds! I’d be a zombie during the day and I’m not a very nice person on little sleep.
Tip 1: I don’t work fixed hours
..as it leaves me feeling frustrated. I’m not in a 9-5 job anymore so I don’t try and work those hours. Instead I work in my own time. This may look different every day, but I’m meeting deadlines so when I work is not an issue.
For example, some nights I used to work from 10 pm-2 am because I couldn’t work during the day. I stopped doing that once my baby slept during the night.
Tip 2: I factor life into my deadlines
I’ve always set deadlines 2-3 weeks ahead to cater for my child being sick or other unforeseen circumstances.
If an editor or client comes to me asking for a rush job, I consider the payoff vs the cost. Is the $300 fee worth my health? If not, I pass it on to another writer, I earn some good karma and likely to get reciprocal work from them later.
Tip 3: I practise self care
When life and work gets busy, it’s more important to look after me because two little humans depend on me. If I fall apart, so does the entire household.
I make time to read, watch TV, play or talk with my kids and exercise. When I find myself scrolling aimlessly through social media, I put my phone down and do something I’ve been meaning to do for days like brainstorm story ideas, read a book or simply breathe and have quiet time.
Tip 4: I refill my creative tank
The endless and thankless chores and looking after a newborn tends to kill brain cells during maternity leave. To counter the monotony, I took up gardening and read more blogs, books and articles. I have maintained this 6 years later. The time away from writing fuels my creativity and makes me happier and more productive when I have deadlines.
Tip 5: I switch off from technology
When I’ve faced frustration at not getting enough work, or sometimes feel envy at another freelancer’s success, I’ve switched off from endless social media feeds for a few days. It gives me perspective and I always experience a breakthrough on what I could be doing differently in my business.
I’m also much more productive when I’m not constantly checking Facebook or scrolling through Twitter. So when I have a deadline, I simply close my browser and get on with it. No blocking apps for me!
Tip 6: I don’t compare myself to others
I’ve found comparison analysis and envy has killed my productivity and love for writing – when I indulge in it.
I work myself into a panic thinking I’ll never be as successful as the others.
Stopping to breathe (I can do this), keep the big picture in mind (earning an income from home and flexibility), my circumstances (two kids and a husband that works long hours) helps me keep the comparison analysis beast in check!
So what if someone is earning 6 figures freelancing? I’m happy with my own income levels and the type of work I’m doing.
What is your best productivity tip?