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Summertime can be stressful on any freelance business, so today I’m sharing my best productivity tips for busy months, inspired by the Office Depot Business Solutions Center. This is part of a sponsored series I’m doing with Office Depot via Socialstars. Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #GearLove.
The summer months are one of the most overwhelming and crazy times of the year. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you handle it. If you’re planning on making huge strides in the growth of your biz, you might as well know that the summer months will not cater to this goal.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t still be productive and get a good amount of projects completed. If you’re trying to balance traveling with getting your freelance work done, use these tips to ensure the bills still get paid and you don’t go crazy!
Create a portable office
What do you really need to bring with you to get your work done? If you’re a location independent freelancer like I am your basic necessities include a laptop (I use a Google Chromebook), some sort of reliable wifi hotspot, mobile phone, and a notebook.
In some instances you may need to carry around some files or paperwork, in which case you can purchase a simple file box or accordion carrying case for safe keeping. Streamline the items you think you need in order to get work done and use a resource like Office Depot’s Business Solutions Center to make a list of your must-have necessities.
Not sure what your portable office should include? Check out this hilarious video! (I’m a pen/pencil hoarder myself #officesupplyporn.)
Cut back on meetings
Between calls with my business coach, chats with my accountability partners, and Google Hangouts with mastermind groups, I spend an average of 5-6 hours a week in meetings. That’s a lot of time I’m not working or getting paid.
Don’t get me wrong, being accountable and talking through issues with my business coach, is time well-spent on my business. But there comes a season when you need to take time off for a few months and spend those hours elsewhere.
The hubs and I are in the process of moving from the Dallas, TX area to Denver, CO to be closer to his family, so most of my time during the day is spent on Craigslist looking at potential apartments, or going through all of our possessions and getting rid of things we don’t need anymore.
During busy months you have to prioritize your time and know where your time is most effectively spent. As things start to die down, you can reschedule those chats and meetings and get back into a regular routine. Until then, scale back on the number of meetings you have — your accountability partners and coach will understand.
Outsource small tasks
Anytime I say the words “outsourcing” I’m met with the reaction that it will take too much time or money to use outsourcing as a way to get more done. But I’m here to tell you those are just excuses! I’ve proven that you can be more productive and essentially clone yourself, by outsourcing a few small tasks to someone else.
Do you know a freelancer friend who you can barter services with in exchange for getting their help with a project you don’t have time for? Can you subcontract out work that you’re overwhelmed with and split the revenue? Battle the overwhelm by asking for help and outsourcing work you can’t (or don’t have time to) tackle.
Have honest conversations
It’s likely you’ll be traveling a lot during this busy time of year. So how do you balance spending time with family and friends while not falling behind on work? The best solution is to have a honest conversations.
Make sure your spouse, family, and friends understand that you have to work a few hours a day, but that doing so will allow you to spend time with them in the afternoons or evenings.
Your freelance business pays the bills, so don’t be afraid to remind them of this fact. If you need several hours of undisturbed time to yourself, ask for it. If you have to head to a local coffee shop for some privacy, let your friends and family know you’ll be back soon.
In my experience simply asking for what you need will ensure that your family, and your work, doesn’t get neglected.
This is a super simple productivity tip but it’s my go-to solution for when I’m working away from the quiet space of my home office. Bring good headphones with you everywhere! Decent earbuds don’t have to cost a lot of money (in fact, I use a pair of black Sony buds that I bought from Office Depot for $9).
If you’re unable to find a quiet room away from friends and family during the day, simply put on your headphones and turn on some music. Any background noise, or interruptions, will fade away allowing you to get into a productive work mode.
Work odd hours of the day
If you simply have too much going on that you can’t fit all of your work to-dos within a few hours every day, consider working during the “bookend” times of the day. Get up in the early morning hours or stay up later in the evening when everyone else is asleep.
This isn’t an ideal situation, but you’re only doing for a short amount of time. I’m a morning person so I get my best work done earlier when everyone is still sleeping. But maybe you’re a night owl — stay awake after everyone’s gone to bed and crank out your work.
Use a checklist to be prepared
When you’re working outside of your home office, or regular freelance business routine, you have to be prepared. Check out this awesome checklist infographic, and use the tips to be prepared and stay productive during busy summer months.
Put tasks on autopilot
Take 5 minutes right now to go through your calendar and task list for the next few weeks. What can you systemize, or put on autopilot, so you don’t have to actively work on it? Change over clients to a recurring invoicing option. Ask your coaching students to sign up for subscription payments via PayPal.
Save yourself the back-and-forth appointment scheduling via email by using a free booking service like Calendly or TimeTrade. Everyone else is traveling during the summer months so it’s likely they will miss calls, or mess up the time zones (this has already happened to me multiple times this month).
Setup vacation auto responders for your inbox — even if you’ll still be checking your email. Let your contacts know that you may be slow to respond due to traveling or taking time off. Look over all your tasks and see what you can do to put them on autopilot.
How do you stay productive during busy months? What’s another way you battle overwhelm?