28 Productivity Hacks for Freelance Writers

In this article, we’ll discuss 28 practical productivity hacks for freelance writers. In fact, freelance writers often struggle when they don’t need to.

Let’s dive right in.

Virtual Co-working with an Accountability Partner

Most remote work is hard to pull off as far as self-discipline goes, and going it alone can be too tough for many freelancers. That’s where Pipewing comes in; virtual co-working with an accountability partner in focused 50-minute sprints allows you to get work done with the assistance of a partner who works virtually with you. The short time frame allows your attention span to recover for more work later, maximize your work for time spent, and allows you to work within a structured environment with input from others.

Quit Over-Researching

Usually, all you need is about 3 to 5 articles worth of material to properly research a blog or article. If you’ve got 15 articles sitting there and you’re spending way too much time pouring over research materials, try to knock it off. You can also read articles on how to research faster if you want to improve how much time you spend researching.

Set a Daily Goal

There are all kinds of ways to improve your productivity, and starting a daily goal to-do list will help you in all the areas in which you need help as you go. Without making a start, you’re not going to arrive at a destination, so it’s important to set daily goals. Also, make a monthly list of goals and add items from this to your daily list in an organized fashion.

Stop Over-writing First Drafts

Many writers make the mistake of vastly overwriting the number of words they need to use in their first drafts. It doesn’t pay off in the long run, so you want to kind of try to write as you go. Write roughly close to the number of words you will need for the final draft. Writing a little more to give wiggle room for editing is a good idea if you make sure to keep it down to a minimum, and you will save time and energy.

Stop Recording your Interviews

You may not need to do interviews at all, but if you find you have to, you should learn shorthand to be able to take notes and keep the interviews short. You also only want to do as many interviews as absolutely necessary. Only in the case of celebrity interviews should you record the interview, as you can’t get another chance at capturing information from them.

Get Organized

Not being organized really wreaks havoc upon your overall productivity and will make you feel horrible every day. If you’ve got your stuff together, then you will not have to search for it when you need it. When organized, you will be performing your tasks more efficiently, and your overall writing mood will improve, so if you haven’t gotten organized already, now is the time to get it together and keep it together.

Don’t Edit as you Go

The editing process corrects all errors and makes the flow of words logical. If you spend time editing as you go, you interrupt the writing process. Editing at the end is the way to go as you will save time, energy, and you will improve the flow of writing overall. You also will be able to spot errors free from the constraints of being distracted by creating.

Set Self-imposed Premature Deadlines

If you have 5 days to complete an article, try to complete it in 3 days or 2 days if possible. Setting premature deadlines will set the pace at a faster rate for completing the work. Getting work done ahead of time makes sure that you won’t be scrambling at the last minute or handing work in late.

Schedule your Work in Detail

You will want to schedule all of your work activities during the day, including your breaks. Having everything you actively work on listed on a schedule and knowing what is on your schedule will help you complete work on time, and make you feel better that you know what you are doing. Using a detailed work plan to work from each day is ideal.

Use a Pomodoro Timer

Pomodoro timers are timers that are set for a particular length of work time, such as 30 or 50 minutes, followed by X amount of time for a break, such as 15 minutes. Using a timer to work allows you to stop working before you get tired and burnt for the day. Keeping work intervals short will help you to focus and get your best work done. Pipewing has a Pomodoro timer built-in, which is free to use, even if you don’t want to work with a partner.

Get Rid of All Distractions

This is critical if you really want to get a lot of work done. No one can work in an exceptionally noisy or distracting environment when they are trying to focus their mental energies. If there are dogs barking or babies crying and you are trying to work, this will really mess up your mental focus. If you need to work at a cafe or a library, do so rather than put up with unnecessary noise that is going to throw you off track.

Play Soft Music in the Background

Playing quiet music such as classical, meditation, or nature sounds in the background (instead of noisy rock and roll, or other loud music) will also help you focus. If listening to the TV in the background actually helps you focus as it does some, go ahead and tune in. However, if there is any type of media that will take away from your focus, eliminate it.

Use Productivity Apps

There are tons of productivity apps you could use, such as One Tab. One Tab, for example, takes all of your tabs and hosts them in one tab for easy access so you don’t clutter your browser and slow yourself down. There are many other apps that have different functions, so explore writer apps on Google and see what you can find.

Use Speech Recognition Software

Speech recognition software programs will allow you to type most of the words you write, with a minimum of corrections, just by speaking them into a microphone. There are many free speech recognition software programs online, or you could get a paid version with more features. Many writers use speech recognition to reduce the amount of energy they spend typing and increase production exponentially.

Create Templates for Repetitive Tasks

If there are tasks you repeat on a daily basis, creating templates you can use repeatedly is the way to go. You’ll save a lot of time and energy from recreating text you need repetitively. For example, if you use a checklist to do your work, and you check things off as you go, create a template for it instead of recreating one each time you use it.

Set Daily/Weekly/Monthly/Annual Financial Goals

If you want to make $40,000 a year writing, you can set that as a goal, but you have to break it down into daily, weekly, and monthly timeframes. Some timeframes contain vacation days, holidays, and sick days, and there is always one factor or another that’s going to affect your overall goals. Setting daily goals and doing your best to stick to them is ideal.

Spend Time Meditating First Thing in the Morning

Meditating first thing in the morning will clear your mind of all unnecessary thoughts and allow you to then focus on your work. You may also want to develop a morning routine before you begin working, such as taking vitamins or medication, drinking coffee, and perhaps a morning walk to get your juices flowing. Meditation is a great way to get your focus together before you begin work.

Take Frequent Breaks

You should always spend time relaxing before and after work sessions. Going in hard and going for long periods of time without rest are definite no-nos. You need to take frequent breaks to keep your mind and thoughts on point, so make sure to add them to your schedule as part of the work cycle. Spending 15-20 minutes to break every 50-60 minutes of work is ideal.

Don’t Waste Time on Social Media

If you are tempted to spend time on social media or any activity online, that is not part of your work cycle during work, remember to spend as little time as possible doing so. You may want to answer a message or a text quickly and don’t be afraid to tell the other person that you are at work. If you are feeling lonely, spend a few minutes talking to a friend and get right back to work, saving the conversation for later.

Prevent Burnout when Possible

You will want to keep a good work-life balance to prevent burnout. Writing may be your passion and it incorporates every part of your soul and being, but without any other form of life, you will burn out on it. Spending time on other activities during your daily routine is just part of the picture when it comes to productive work.

Prevent Redundant Activities and Too Much Paperwork

If you have a lot of paperwork that goes with your writing, you will want to keep it down to a minimum. When there are things you do all the time while you are writing that is just wasting time, keep those activities on a need to do only basis. If you are constantly getting up to do other things while you are working, then you need to just dedicate your work-time to work alone and quit jumping up every moment you get a chance.

Take Care of Yourself Generally

Taking care of yourself is part of the writing cycle, because if you are not in good shape, your writing is going to just be terrible. No matter what you write about, you are going to put some of yourself into it. Taking care of yourself ensures that you won’t end up with a creative product that reflects being in a bad state of mind.

Get the Right Amount of Sleep

Some people sleep for 5 to 6 hours a night, others need 8 to 10 hours or more. You always need to be properly rested before you begin your daily work routine. If you are working odd hours here and there, you will also want to make sure that, no matter what you are doing, the amount of sleep you get properly recharges your body in order to get the work done.

Turn Off your Cell Phone

There’s nothing that is more distracting and interrupts your writing more than constantly having to answer phone calls while trying to get your work done. Unless you are expecting an important call, turn off your cell phone during your work time. Even telemarketers who you are not expecting will interrupt your workflow and wreak havoc on your overall flow of thoughts.

Use the Two-Minute Rule when Possible

If there are tasks that are not directly related to your writing that you need to accomplish during your work periods, you will want to reduce the amount of time you spend doing them to two minutes or less. Keep an eye on the clock and see if you are accomplishing these tasks in two minutes. If you can do tasks within two minutes, make sure you do them, but don’t waste time on tasks that take away from your writing.

Identify your Peak Productivity Times

Like it or not, we only work for about 4 hours a day at our peak productivity. If you work longer than that each day, you can stretch out how much you work, but you will not be at your peak. Taking this into account, you will want to get the bulk of your work done within the 4-hour time frame and relegate tasks that require less focus and thought to the remaining hours of your day.

Answer Emails at Specific Times

You will want to answer email communications from your clients or employer at different times of the day. Scheduling these times around your workflow is ideal, as you don’t want to be caught up in what is going on at work while you are trying to get tasks completed. Focus is a tricky thing and if you are all over the place with too many tasks, you won’t be able to get your work done efficiently.

Schedule your Food and Snacks

Spending time cooking and eating will always take time. You will want to have some food in your system while you are working as well, both to have the energy to write and to keep your moods stable. If you have to do the cooking, schedule your time accordingly to prevent interrupting the workflow, and always have a snack within reach while you are working. Coffee works too.

When Using Productivity Hacks

We hope you have found these productivity hacks interesting, and ultimately you will use them in your work. Many writers struggle with the issue of productivity, and writing is not the easiest job in the world. Also, it is a good idea to come up with your own productivity hacks by using your imagination.

If you use these productivity hacks regularly, you will find that your overall production will increase and you will feel better as a person and a writer. If you’re interested in what co-working accountability partners can offer you, check out our website.

Author: John Donnelly

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