Beat the ‘Manana Mood’
Productivity tips for Contractors and Freelancers
We are in the midst of the holiday season and the temperature has increased by a degree or two. Hurray! It might be summer and you are focused on your summer holidays and lazy days in the sun, but you still have work to do or clients to please.
To help you get through this ‘manana mood’ and get the most out of your working day, we bring you our essential productivity tips for contractors and freelancers.
Fill the tank
A car can’t run without oil and petrol (or diesel). The same philosophy applies to you. Your body and brain will not be able to reach full throttle unless it has enough fuel. So, start the day off with a fuel enthused breakfast, have regular snacks throughout the day and drink plenty of fluids (water and juice).
Set yourself a challenge
My favourite tip is to set yourself personal challenges throughout the day. Got a report to write? Then challenge yourself to get it finished by a certain time. If you succeed, then reward yourself with something you like. In my case, chocolate! If you fail the challenge, then you face a forfeit.
We all hate attending meetings when we are bogged down with work, but sometimes they are necessary. If you find yourself in this situation, be the boss and take charge of organising the meeting. This way you can pick a time that suits you and determine the schedule.
If you have clients to catch up with, don’t wait for them to call you. Be the one to call them. If they don’t answer, leave a message stating that you will call them back at a designated time. This way you know your time will be free to complete your urgent tasks.
Stick to a schedule
It might have been a long time since you were at school (it was for some of us here!) but we all remember what the school day structure was like ‘lesson, break, lesson, break…’ This routine may seem regimented but it works. It is important to take regular scheduled breaks throughout the day. This will stop you from getting distracted and wasting valuable minutes.
Banish futile technology
Smartphones are fantastic but they can also be addictive. It is very tempting to quickly catch up with what is happening on Facebook or Twitter, or play a quick game of Pokemon Go! Don’t get into the habit of doing this during your working hours. Save it for lunchtime or the journey home. Instead, invest your time in using technology that will make your work life easier, such as Trello, Evernote, GotoMeeting etc.
Strip it all back
We have all come across colleagues or clients whose emails resemble the book War and Peace. They think they are being helpful by giving you all the details and you are thinking ‘just get to the point’. The trick is to read the email thoroughly and then highlight any important information. If you can’t act upon it there and then, mark it as Follow-up and add a note in the Flag To box. When you next look at the email you will know instantly what it is needed to be done without reading the whole email again.
Learn to say ‘No’ in a nice way
As a contractor, you may want to impress your colleagues, or as a freelancer, you may want to show your client how productive and accommodating you can be. However, everybody has a limit on the number of things they can manage to successfully work on during the day. Therefore, knowing how to turn down work without jeopardising the relationship is important. Try saying something like “It is great that you thought of me and I would love to work on the project but I have a couple of urgent deadlines coming up and I am afraid I won’t be able to give your project the attention it deserves”.
Even though the client might be disappointed that you can’t do the job they will appreciate your honesty. It is better to turn down a job down then take it on and rush it through.