Productivity for Freelancers: The one key to doubling Your free time and Your income!

Quote from Fleep blog freelancers edition: “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the job at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus,” Alexander Graham BellDo you want to get more done in a single day than most freelancers do in a week?

If you struggle with productivity – as most freelancers do – the steps laid out here could easily do this for you. Turning you into a productivity machine.

And we don’t want to just throw a whole bunch of lessons at you. Easy-implementation makes change happen. So treat this post as more of a roadmap you can follow to double your productivity over the next few months.

First, what is the key to freelancing super-productivity?

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the job at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus,” ~Alexander Graham Bell

Picture sitting outside on a sunny day, holding a magnifying glass over a piece of paper. You sit still, not moving. Focusing on a singly tiny point. 30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds and suddenly that point goes dark and puff, you burn a hole through the paper.

The one key to productivity is focus

Imagine if you had been moving that magnifying glass all over the piece of paper. Nothing would happen! But this is what most freelancers do all day long. Sound familiar?

Focus clears away mental clutter. It creates clarity and simplicity, bringing all your mental energy to bear on one thing and one thing only.

Building a habit of focus is extremely powerful, and breaking focus regularly is destructive and mentally exhausting. Once you break focus it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back to the job at hand – every time you move that magnifying glass. Check out this great LifeHacker post on the many dangers of breaking focus.

Your three key areas to focus for massive productivity

To be a successful freelancer who also has lots of free time, you simply must master this skill. Find focus in your mind and energy, your communications, and your environment.

       1. Focus Your Mind, Find Freedom, Swim with the Current

All freelancers have constant distractions. Clients getting in touch, team members with demands, regular distractions not related to work. Things we suddenly remember we have to do. Lots of seemingly urgent things that battle for our attention.

The trick is not to try and resist them and ignore them. Instead give yourself freedom to forget those things just for the moment with a release valve.

You can do this with a timer. If you dedicate 25 minute, or 50 minutes to working on one task, then you have 10 minutes dedicated to relaxing and dealing with distractions – this helps you postpone all distractions until your break. Here are 10 online timers you can use.

When you’re working in your 50-minute window, when something pops up you can say, ‘ok, I’ll deal with that in my break’ make a note, and get back to work. Then when the timer beeps you completely forget about work and do everything else. Just when that timer beeps again, you get right back to it.

You have mental freedom, and can enjoy guilt-free distractions

The best intervals to work in are 25 minutes and 50 minute periods. With short breaks, and every 2 hours a longer one. Why 25 or 50-minute windows? Because of the famous Pomodoro energy-cycle, which is how our minds and bodies concentrate the best.

LifeHack has a few ideas for upgrades to the system here.

Your morning magnifying glass

Fleep blog: key to productivity is focus -  imagine moving a magnifying glass all over the piece of paperDuring your morning focus window, train yourself to keep absolutely concentrated on the one big task that is most important to your freelancing business. If your mind wanders, just bring it back, much like meditation. After a while this becomes habit.

To begin with, perhaps just work for two 25-minute cycles or one 50-minute cycle first thing in the morning. Over time you can build on this until it’s your whole morning, then your whole day.

Right at the start of the day you can help your mind slide into absolute focus by postponing the news until later, and perhaps postpone other distractions like meetings and even dare I say it… messaging or email.

Give yourself the gift of a simple morning, free of clutter. Like Leo Babauta, perhaps with exercise too.

       2. Focus in Communications, Simplify, Get Helpers

There are two ways you can focus in your communications.

One is to make it simpler for you. Bring communications into one place, physically. And into one time, during your day.

If you have your communications spread across many different channels, types of email and chat, and also you communicate with people all day long, spread out at any time, then you are making the magnifying glass fly all over the place.

Your communications are lower quality, and your other work is disrupted by this too.

Focus your communication times

Tim Ferriss recommends moving communication times to one or two times of the day. Perhaps 11am and 4pm. And letting people know in a tactful way, perhaps with an autoresponder message.

You could start with simply not checking communications until 10am, when you’ve already begun work on your most productive task. This might be an easier first step.

Focus your communications in one place

Much as Evernote brings all your notes into one place, Fleep channels all your business conversations into one place. It is the most advanced messenger and file sharing service, which can either replace email or work in harmony with it.

Freelancers have to juggle a lot of clients, suppliers and partners – and with them various forms of communication. Fleep enables you to streamline how you do that. It is easy to use and has no impact on your contacts, with zero barriers to entry. So if your clients want to use email, they can, your Fleep messages will be delivered as emails to their inboxes.

This is important, as you need to be realistic and make sure any new productivity systems are as easy as possible to implement and use.

Train people to help you focus

Other people are the biggest obstacle to productivity. If you let them be. They can also be your biggest helpers

As you implement these new habits such as working to 50-minute blocks with no distractions and only messaging once or twice a day, let other people know what you’re doing and why. And politely enforce it when they try to get you distract you.

People will respect you for it. Perhaps even be inspired. Everyone wants to work with freelancers who are productive and take their time seriously. You have just become one of them.

       3. Focus in Your Environment, Like Steve, Free Your Mind

Fleep blog: a clear decluttered mind helps your creativity work wonders.Make things easy on yourself. Create an environment in which it is easy to focus, as Paul Boag explains in this great post.

You can do this in your workspace, your digital space and your mental space.

Working remotely? Despite the benefits, you will face some challenges as a remote worker. But don’t fret! There are ways to overcome the challenges of working remotely.

Steve Jobs loved an empty room with no furniture, to sit and think in. Maybe this is going a little far for you. But clutter around us does have a very detrimental effect on our ability to focus. Clean it up, use the ABS method – Always Be Cleaning.

This goes for your digital space too. A minimalist, clean desktop means when you move to your first task in the morning, you have no mental clutter on the way. Both physically and digitally you can have everything within easy reach, just not within line of sight.

Control social media and internet clutter

One of the biggest distractions to freelancers is of course, social media. And the internet in general.

Limit access to sites until later in the day with plugins like some of these, or within a site like Facebook you can stop adverts and the news feed with FB Purify. There are so many great productivity tools for helping control your natural urges to find distraction in the addictive treats that abound online. Make it your business to know them, and to know what works for you, and what doesn’t.

Here is a terrific list of apps to help by Suleiman Leadbitter.

Declutter mentally too

Badly managed to do lists can leave your mind crammed with tasks jostling for your attention. Not a quiet place for powerful focus.

One quick way to declutter your mental space is to go through your lists and strike off anything that isn’t urgent, as Steve Pavlina recommends his productivity hacks. Another great tip is to delegate all you can. And of course, above all, identify the most important tasks to focus on. And do them first.

When you select your number one task, project or unpleasant job (your frog, as Brian Tracy calls it) that will get to furthest towards your goal, then that is all you should focus on, until it is 100% done. Find ways to deal with everything else later – after you’ve ‘eaten your frog.’

Here are 6 great ways to improve any to do list by Dumb Little Man, and the best ‘to do’ list managers apps out there.

A final tip on planning your day. If you plan your day the evening before, even briefly, then your unconscious mind can work away at it all night long. You’ll simply be more focused in the morning. And you’ll reduce worry and sleep better to, because you’ve mentally de-cluttered.

And there you have it. A freelancer’s route to rock-solid productivity. Just remember to take it easy and implement each part slowly. Too much at once won’t help you focus, it might even stress you out and diminish your focus.

But if you aim to have these practices in place three months from today, you’ll be twice as productive, no doubt about it.

Just a final note on your power of focus;

Now you can focus the sun’s rays, time to turn up the energy

All these habits of focus will mean little if you don’t have the energy to make things happen in the first place. Eat healthily, sleep well, exercise. Drink water, breathe.

If you combine strong body and mind with strong productivity habits, you’ll be one unstoppable freelancer.

A few people to follow on productivity for freelancers

Marek Sanders, copywriter

 

This is a guest blog post written by Marek Sanders, who is a copywriter, productivity enthusiast and Fleep evangelist.

 

Chat for teams

How to quickly create group conversations in Fleep?

create group conversations

Fleep is a messenger for teams and projects. To make the most of Fleep, you may want to have different team conversations with your whole team, as well as group conversations, each with a different membership in Fleep.

In this blog post, we will show you a few ways how to create group conversations in Fleep.

Ask everyone to join using the conversation link

create group conversationsEvery conversation in Fleep has its own unique URL link. You can find it in the Conversation Settings.

You can ask your team to join any conversation with the conversation link. For that, you’ll have to…

  • Step 1: create a conversation (or use an existing one)
  • Step 2: make sure the conversation Privacy setting allows for joining via the link
  • Step 3: copy & share the Conversation link with the people you want to join the conversation.

You can also use this setup if you want people to decide for themselves which conversations they want or need to join – almost like an “opt-in” way to join the conversation.

Create a new conversation and add members

The simplest and most straightforward way to create group conversations is to just add people one by one.

  • Step 1: Create a new conversation in Fleep (or use an existing one)
  • Step 2: Add people to the conversation with the /add command (works with both Fleep usernames and email addresses):

create group chat

Alternatively, you can add members into the chat from the Members panel – it opens when you click on the icon that looks like a person in the top-right corner of the user interface.

Clone a conversation

clone conversationAnother way to create a new group conversation is to Clone an existing one. The Clone feature allows you to easily create a new conversation with the same members as an existing conversation:

  • Step 1: Choose a conversation that has the right members in them.
  • Step 2: Right-click on the conversation in the conversation list (left-hand menu in the desktop version) and choose Clone from the menu that appears.
  • Step 3: The newly created conversation is opened for you – now, change the Topic of the new conversation and start chatting. Congrats, you’ve created a new team conversation with just 2 clicks!

We hope that these tips and tricks clarified how to quickly create team chats in Fleep. If you have any questions or ideas for new feature requests, don’t hesitate to ping us via Fleep Support or via our social channels (Twitter, Facebook). We’re all ears when it comes to feedback!

Fleep User Story: Lizelle from Women Who Startup

Fleep User Stories is a series of blogposts that showcases all the cool people, teams and companies that use Fleep in their daily business.

Lizelle van VuurenWe virtually met with Lizelle van Vuuren first when we came across her tweet about Fleep. After a short discussion with her it was obvious that we’re dealing with an inspiring entrepreneur who loves startups, tech, design and has made her mission to change the world for women in startup scene through her organization Women Who Startup.

But enough about our point of view on things, we’ll let her share the full story with you instead.

Who are you, Lizelle, and what do you do?

I’m an entrepreneur living in Denver, Colorado (South African born and raised). I’m a startup entrepreneur and a growth marketer. I love to find new ways to launch ideas, grow startups, build communities and create impact.

How did you find out about Fleep and what do you use it for?

I was first introduced to Fleep when I started to work on a new startup company called, WÜF – wearable technology for dogs company. We were a team of 7 and we were located all over the world. Sean and I were in Colorado but we have team members in Pakistan, Paris, Chicago and Boulder and Denver. To find a means of communication that would fit us all I did some research on communication platforms and came across Fleep.

Lizelle van Vuuren, Kickstarter campaign with WÜF team

Lizelle (on the right) with some of the WÜF team members. From the left: Azmat, who lives in Pakistan and Sean, who resides in Boulder where the photo was also taken.

We communicated on Fleep around the clock while working on the successful Kickstarter campaign I helped them launch in the end of 2014. For the time being it was our lifeline, and I loved it. Although we gave Slack a try it just didn’t cut it in comparison with Fleep which was simple and easy to use.

I run Women Who Startup, an organization I started to empower female entrepreneurs to have a powerful community and resources to startup. I work with contractors, partners and sponsors and the number of people varies every month.

Women Who Startup

Women Who Startup community gathering. Lizelle uses Fleep to stay in touch with partners, sponsors and contractors who help her build the Women Who Startup organization in Denver, Colorado. This particular photo was taken at Galvanize (Denver), a collaborative startup community and co-working space. Galvanize is a partner and sponsor of Women Who Startup. There are now multiple locations of Galvanize in Colorado, and also San Fransisco, and many more are coming in the future.

So in short you could say that I use Fleep to communicate with clients, partners, sponsors related to my business and community development including my organization Women Who Startup.

Any tips and tricks or habits that have formed due to taking Fleep in use or why you’d recommend it to others?

I love using Fleep, I have the browser version and the mobile app on my iPhone. I check in on updates from people every few hours throughout the day. I don’t like notifications of any kind, because I’m so busy in meetings, events, and heads down work that I check in on my email or Fleep throughout the day.

Is there anything you think Fleep is missing?

I would say that it needs a LOT more integration with other apps.

This is it for this time! I know that we here at Fleep are extremely happy to have “met” Lizelle and get to know her story, it’s truly inspiring! In case you liked her story and would like to continue keeping in touch with Lizelle and all her activities, it might help to know that she’s pretty active on these Twitter channels:

Stories such as Lizelle’s are not the only ones we have from our users, if you’d like to get more stories like this in the future as well, feel free to follow us on Twitter (#fleepstories) or Facebook and check out the rest of the stories. Until next time!