Are you struggling to find your groove this autumn season? You’re not alone! Below, our Features Editor Carrie Waller shares her perspective on battling perfectionism and finding ways to be productive amid the chaos in her fall-time freelancer lifestyle.
This year, I have quite a lot to be thankful for. September marked my first anniversary as a full-time freelancer working for myself as an editor, blogger and copywriter. I also completed some of my largest projects to-date—not to mention, my husband and I finally sold our house and bought a new one in a brand-new city! Suffice it to say that 2015 has been a banner year, but it has also taught me that I can’t do it all on my own, and that productivity is just one of those things that naturally ebbs and flows despite my best laid plans.
Because we are just 12 days post-move (only two of which have been spent with an operating Internet connection), I have been feeling a little less than productive. Oh, and my attempts at perfectionism? An utter failure. Happily, as my own boss, I have the single-handed power to change all of that if only I set my sights on ways to be more organized, more on top of my to-do’s and more focused on my daily goals. In case you’re looking to find your own productivity this fall, I want to invite you along on my journey, and I also would love to get your advice.
The major culprit that’s currently killing my productivity is my overwhelming to-do list. Because my income supports our family, it’s often difficult for me to say “no” to any and all projects that come through my inbox. So, I’m in a near-constant state of creative panic. I don’t know about you, but anxiety is the fastest way to disrupt my productivity. I feel buried under the pressure, unsure of which project or priority to turn to first, and instead, I usually end up laying in bed for an extra hour in the morning to avoid it all.
Now, of course, this isn’t always the case. I would say that 50 percent of the time I’m awake by 7:00 a.m. and ready to speed through my two email inboxes or to check off a craft project for my blog by noon. But my goal this fall is to increase that statistic and enjoy a more consistent schedule, both physically and emotionally. It’s time to get off this mental roller coaster and embrace a schedule and routine that will reap productive rewards every day.
Here’s how I plan to do that:
Set an alarm.
Right now, my daily schedule is pretty easygoing. I wake up when I want to and go to bed when I want to. I think this is because I’m still in that freelancer euphoria—even though I’m one year in, it’s still pretty darn awesome to have complete control over my schedule. It’s not something I take for granted, as evidenced by my random wake-up and bed times. But, moving forward, I need to get into a better, more regimented routine so that my brain can settle into a productive pattern first thing in the morning.
Learn to say “no”.
This may be the hardest bullet point item to achieve, but I need to learn to say “no” to projects that I can’t devote enough time to with my already-packed to-do list. I think another reason why I’ve had trouble saying “no” is that I don’t have a spreadsheet showing me a quick breakdown of the projects and obligations that I have already committed to. In light of this, I think the first step in helping my productivity in this area is to sign up for a project organization system. I’ve heard good things about Asana and Trello, but I’d love some other ideas if you have them!
Get help with administrative work.
Up until this point, four and half years since launching my personal blog, I have managed the site completely on my own. I work with an incredible intern here at Glitter Guide (shout out to you, Mackenzie!), and the experience has really helped make my GG productivity soar. My obsession with complete perfectionism and my tendency to be a control freak have made me shy away from the idea of getting help with administrative tasks related to my blog, but I think it’s time to finally admit that I can’t do it all by myself. Shameless plug, but if you’re interested in helping out, shoot me an email!
Network with other freelancers.
I think one thing a lot of us freelancers and digital workers fall prey to is disconnection from real life. I know I spend days without leaving the house and have allowed many of my friendships to sadly fall to the wayside in lieu of muscling through work to-do’s. But there’s nothing quite so unproductive and creativity-robbing than a solitary lifestyle. Because we just moved to a new town an hour and a half from our previous one, it’s time for me to get out there and connect face to face with other freelancers. I have a feeling that the inspiration alone will bring fresh energy to my productive state.
Because it’s much easier to tackle a challenge together, I’d love to know the productivity-boosting strategies, apps and programs that have worked for you! Do tell in the comments.