“Never have I ever procrastinated on a task,” said no freelancer ever. Having your income tied to your productivity levels can encourage anyone to work hard.
However, sometimes the money factor is not enough to get the creative juices flowing. If you’re in a productivity valley, there are practical hacks you could use to rise to the mountaintop and be in a great shape. Here are 11 of them, as recommended by some top freelancers and entrepreneurs.
1. Trick Your Brain into Productive Mode
“Our brain comes with this little nagging system that reminds us of unfinished tasks. The ‘nagger’ is known as ‘Zeigarnik Effect’. It states that once we begin doing something (but do not complete that action), our brain experiences a task-specific tension. This tension improves our ability to remember the content of the task, as well as forces us to complete it. So how is this good for you? First, physiological tests suggest that interruptions can increase our information retention and recollection abilities by 90%. Students who have interrupted their studies with unrelated activities (e.g. playing games) tend to remember the material better than peers who did not take a break. Next, if you start doing some chore, the Zeigarnik Effect will push you into finishing it as your brain will just nag you to complete what has been started.” – Daniel Soderberg, CEO of EyeOnPass.
2. Head to a Coffee Shop
“Here’s your excuse for treating yourself to that overpriced mocha latte – it has been scientifically proven that certain levels of ambient noise such as clattering of cups and the hiss of an espresso machine improves performance on creative tasks. Going outside also means that you will need to get out of those PJs – an additional productivity booster.” – Jason Springer, CMO of Loan Mart.
3. Work in 90-Minute Sprints
“Our bodies naturally shift from higher to lower alertness states every 90 minutes throughout the day. This is called ‘ultradian rhythm’. Observe your behavior and feelings and try to capture those moments of higher alertness during the day and plan your schedule around them. After an extensive 90-minute session, give yourself at least an hour to ‘recharge’. – Jason Hall, CEO of 8 Figure Dream Lifestyle.
4. Compete with Your Peers
“When you are working solo, it’s hard to assess how well you are doing as you end up being either too harsh on yourself or too lax. Having an accountability buddy at a similar stage of their business journey, but in a different niche, can help you create a friendly sense of competition and steer you towards improving your performance and reaching your goals quicker.” – Matthew van Niekerk, Co-Founder & CEO of Databroker DAO.
5. Make a Public Commitment
“If you are really struggling with finishing one dreadful chore, make a public promise that you will have it done by a certain deadline. Promise that to your best buddy, spouse or just a bunch of random people on Facebook. Make sure there are ‘sanctions’ involved if you fail to deliver (e.g. buying a round of drinks for all witnesses).” – Benson Varghese, Founder of Varghese Summersett.
6. Adjust the Thermostat
“Home office temperature can impact your productivity. One study indicates that workers tend to make 44% more mistakes when the room temperatures were too low (68 degrees or 20 degrees Celsius). When you feel cold, your brain gets distracted as it’s thinking of ways to warm up, instead of focusing on the job at hand. Switch to the optimal ‘work’ temperature – 77 degrees or 25 degrees Celsius.” – Victor Kluczenya, CEO of Mobile Tracking Reviews.
7. Visualize Your Progress
“At the end of the day, we like to feel accomplished. Instead of deleting the tasks from your to-do list, try to visualize them in a fun manner. Create your weekly scoreboard where you will track how much you have accomplished (e.g. how many new pitches you have sent or how many new clients you have on-boarded). Set specific milestones and treat yourself with something meaningful once you reach those.” – Steve McCullah, Head of PR at Apollo Currency.
8. Try The “Forced Deadline” Technique
“Even the most driven freelancers and entrepreneurs can struggle with creative blocks and procrastination. At times like these, be your own boss and set a non-negotiable deadline for yourself — the more urgent, the better. This ‘forced deadline’ can spark a burst of productivity that kick starts motivation to get you back on track. Hard mode: The All-Nighter. Creativity, clarity and productivity can be amazing in pre-dawn hours. Just be sure to rest and nourish your brain afterwards for healthy mental recovery.” – Patrick Dougherty, Marketing Director of Mind Lab Pro.
9. Plan Your Schedule Backwards
“Many people push the most daunting chores till the last moment. If you are guilty of such, flip your daily schedule. Assume that you want to stop working by 6 pm and plan your tasks from that point. Be meticulous and assign specific hour to each chore you plan to accomplish. Creating a rigid schedule may not sound appealing initially, but scientists have proved that apart from improving your work performance, time managing your leisure activities increases the quality of life.” – Pat Morrow, Headlines maker (Sports line trader) for Bovada.
10. Create Additional Obstacles for Distractions
“Working from home comes with a lot of productivity killers – the food, the TV, the kids and the ever-present social media. There’s a quick hack to protect you against those ‘hazards’ – create a 20-second delay for getting access to the distraction. Remove batteries from the TV remote control or hide that cookie on the highest shelf you cannot reach without bringing a chair. You will be positively surprised how less appealing those actions will become in awhile.” – Ronnie Wilson, CEO of SaveonIT.
11. Work on Your Morning Mood
“Getting up on the wrong side of the bed can hamper your productivity. Researchers from Ohio found that employees’ morning moods tend to affect their performance throughout the day and their perception of customers. Grumpy employees didn’t do particularly well. Replace your habit of reading emails first thing in the morning with a 100% positive ritual that would leave you content for the rest of the day.” – Silvia Polivoy, Co-Founder of Spirit Vine Ayahuasca Retreat Center.
If you struggle to stay on top of your workload or are experiencing a decline in your productivity, try some of the 11 hacks above to restore your work mojo.
This article was originally featured in the USA Today.