This article is contributed by Tom Koh.
If you freelance online, you are probably familiar with the many perks of the job. You get to work your own hours, work those hours wherever you want and you never have to force a single smile as all of your clients are on the other side of the world. It seems to me that the only downside of the job is that when you daydream, you don’t get paid.
This is because most forms of online freelancing are of course paid by the deliverable, not by the hour. And this means that when you don’t spend your hours wisely, your paycheck tends to take quite a beating. The answer to this conundrum is of course, high levels of personal productivity. Unfortunately however, it’s usually easier said than done.
And the reason for this is that most online freelancers have a number of bad habits. There’s just something about freelancing online that tends to bring them out in people. I will now outline five bad habits that are surprisingly common among those that call the internet their workplace. Each one is well known for playing havoc with productivity levels.
Seven day weeks are a common fixture among those new to working online and it is a habit that some never grow out of. When you work for yourself, you set your own schedule and there is always going to be a tendency to try to fit as many money making hours into the week.
The catch however is that seven day weeks rarely lead to increased income. While there is nothing wrong with working the occasional weekend, work enough of them and you will find yourself burnt out both in terms of creativity and personal productivity.
Substituting Sleep With Coffee
There are many jobs that one can perform while hung-over. There are many jobs that one can perform after ten espressos and two hours sleep. Unfortunately however, few of these jobs are found online. This is because when you are paid by the word, page or logo, you only get paid for the days that you can think straight.
You don’t need to be a fitness freak and you don’t need to start each day with a trip to the gym. But you do need to take care of yourself. If you want to go out tonight, agree not to work tomorrow. If you want to work tomorrow, agree to get some sleep tonight.
Taking All Day to Perform Simple Tasks
Humans are funny creatures, give them five hours to complete a simple task and it often will take them five hours. Productivity just tends to take a nose dive when you know that you have all day to do something.
The solution to this is simple. If something should only take you one hour, only allow yourself one hour to do it. If you don’t finish within the allotted time, stop and schedule it in for tomorrow. Spending half the day on minor tasks is the kryptonite of your hourly earnings. If you’re being paid twenty dollars to do something, you cannot afford to spend all day doing it.
Procrastinating (For Weeks at a Time)
Then there is procrastination, that evil word that makes every freelancer shudder. There’s just something about not having a boss that makes you put things off for far too long. And while the freedom to procrastinate can at first seem rather luxurious, sooner or later you lose clients. And then those pesky fellows stop sending you money.
My recipe for handling procrastination is very simple but I’ve found it to be highly effective (at least for me). I dedicate thirty minutes per day to the tasks that I hate. Though this leads to such tasks usually coming in late, they do all eventually get done. And unfortunately, that’s not something that I can say for any other anti-procrastination technique I’ve tried.
Slowly Becoming a Recluse
As more and more people find ways to make money online, the freelance recluse is becoming a more and more common sight. Usually identified by his pale skin and complete lack of social skills, the freelance recluse doesn’t get out much, and it shows.
Just because you work online, that does not mean that you need to work at home in your dressing gown with the curtains drawn. When you know it’s three o clock but you don’t know which three o clock, it’s time to start working in a different environment. Coffee shops, libraries, internet cafes and bars all allow you to work online. They also have sunlight and people.
Author Bio: Tom Koh has great insights into some of the problems that are likely to be faced by freelancers and webmasters. He has written a great post about whether you should buy site traffic on his website.