Email is a fact of life; there’s no escaping it. And many of us probably have multiple email accounts, perhaps one for work and one for personal life. Double the number of emails and you double the amount of headaches and the potential for organization nightmares. [Read more…]
If you find that mundane day-to-day tasks steal away a lot of your time, making it harder for you to focus on the more important tasks at hand, it’s likely you’re keen to find ways to increase productivity and streamline your working day. [Read more…]
Freelancing is a siren song to many office workers. It symbolizes freedom and happiness. It symbolizes more time for relaxation and enjoying life.
Many in the corporate world will leave stressful jobs in the corporate world precisely because they’re chasing that dream. They want that promise of well-being, fulfillment, and happiness. [Read more…]
Time tracking is crucial in ensuring productivity levels are high – and this is even more important for us freelancers who are surrounded by more distractions than the average office worker.
As we all know, the freedom we love can also easily be our downfall if we don’t keep ourselves accountable.
Freelance and contract work has proven to be a viable job alternative for employees. However, not everyone is sold with the idea of telecommuting or working with a remote staff.
According to the statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor compiled in 2012, work offered to freelancers and contractors are expected to increase only by 3% within the next 10 years , which is considered slower than average. While freelancers can enjoy benefits that will make employees envious ,the problem lies in the inability of employers to find freelancers for their companies. Among the companies surveyed by Tower Lane Consulting:
- 37% are unable to find qualified freelancer
- 36% feel that paying freelancers is burdensome
- 34% have difficulty managing and making contact with freelancers they hired
- 68% desire a freelancer hiring tool
- 60% demand for a tool that provides visibility and reporting options between them and their freelancers
Given these issues that aspiring freelancers will have to deal with, there are apps and tools that answer these problems to make your transition from office to freelance life much easier! Below are some of the best tools that you ought to use.
If you are looking to hire additional people to help you with your freelance gigs, the next step is managing the list and filtering the best freelancers for the job. This becomes difficult if you have fielded in hundreds and thousands of applicants and don’t have the time to sort out each.
Thankfully, Recruiterboxmakes this process much easier by creating custom sets of steps that candidates must take to complete their application. This tool also lets you collaborate with your clients so you can share feedback and notes about the screened candidates.
One of the reasons why businesses look for freelancers is the supposed ease of getting the job done. Therefore, they will need a quick and easy payment system that allows them to receive invoices from freelancers and send the amount to them without complications. This is precisely what Hiveage does .
“For freelancers, its all about getting things done quickly and easily, and that’s exactly what our simple, intuitive user interface offers them,” says Hiveage CEO Lankitha Wimalarathna. “We’re sick of clunky applications that require learning, and much prefer our users to jump right in and start doing. If you know how to use a web browser, you’ll know how to use Hiveage.”
A concern among businesses when hiring freelancers is the time spent on projects given to them, especially if the freelancers are paid per hour. Because of this, different time management tools have been made available to track down their hours to be able to send to clients.
One of the best is Toggl, a lightweight and efficient software that lets freelancers track the time spent for work and generates reports for their employers. The tool allows you to add people to specific teams, allowing both employees to organize tasks for the different teams and freelancers to manage and bill for different projects at the same time.
Collaborating and getting stuff done has been made more convenient with Trello. This task management tools allow freelancers and businesses alike to set up cards of tasks to do for their projects. The cards can be moved to different columns on a page to indicate whether the task on the card is pending, on progress, or done. Its notification system will let people know when tasks are updated or need to be done immediately. More importantly, people can add members involved in the project to the board so everybody is in the know with regard to the project’s status.
What other tools or apps that you use to make your freelance life easier? Share them with us by commenting below!
That’s what first came to mind when I read the word “precrastinator”, but my brain quickly took it in, knowing full well how procrastinating is a big issue for many freelance writers. There have been quite a lot of studies focusing on procrastination – why it happens, what it does to productivity, and even how it affects the health of individuals because of stress.
Blog posts and online how-tos dealing with procrastination can easily be found, but it is not common to come across something dealing with the opposite: being a precrastinator.
What exactly is a precrastinator?
A precrastinator is the opposite of a procrastinator, in that he or she takes on more work and completing tasks sooner than the deadline.
Forget the popular quote from Douglas Adams: I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by!
So which are you?
Given the characteristics of a procrastinator and a precrastinator, which one do you think you are? I’d say that I am sometimes a procrastinator, and other times, I am a precrastinator. It’s just the way things are; not everything is black and white. There are good days, and there are bad days.
Being a precrastinator is good, right?
If you are a precrastinator, you should have a smug look on your face right now, shouldn’t you? After all, completing your work before the deadline is something to be proud about. It oozes professionalism and efficiency. It helps your bottom line.
But, is it a good thing, really?
Penn State’s David Rosenbaum, together with his colleagues Lanyun Gong and Cory Adam Potts, conducted a study on this particular topic. Here’s what they did:
They set up a series of experiments not unlike my morning ritual—simpler actually. In the study, volunteers were asked to walk down an alley, pick up a bucket along the way, and deposit it at the end. They had a choice of picking up a bucket that was close to them, and therefore had to be carried further, or a bucket that was a bit further away from the start and thus required less carrying. The buckets were of equal weight, and the volunteers were instructed to do whatever seemed easier.
As it turned out, what “seemed easier” was to pick up the load closest to them instead of the bucket that required less carrying, resulting in more work. This, the researchers labeled precrastination.
Counterintuively, the researchers say that precrastinators are not necessarily better off than procrastinators.
Precrastinating may feel better than procrastinating, as you avoid that nagging knowledge that you should be doing something else, but rushing to complete a task may result in decreased performance. “If you want to start and finish something as fast as possible–before you have the full instruction on how to complete the task–it could potentially be a problem,” says Potts.
Additionally, there may be benefits to being a procrastinator.
“Oftentimes, you’re able to remember things better or things occur to you that wouldn’t have occurred to you [in the moment], says Potts. “If you’re a procrastinator, you have that time to incubate, whereas if you’re a precrastinator you don’t.” Rushing to complete the task could mean you’re losing out on ideas that would have occurred to you later if you’d taken the time to mentally percolate on the task.
So there’s good news for procrastinators, although I do think that being a precrastinator is also beneficial depending on the context. It’s all in the context, don’t you think?
What are your thoughts on this? I’d love to read them in the comments below.
I’m not a morning person. I never was, and I don’t think I’ll ever be. I do realize, however, that I need to work on creating – and maintaining – habits that will help me make the most of my day. While it used to be that I could work till the wee hours of the morning, it’s simply not possible for me these days. As such, I need to turn in earlier at night and try to make as early a start as possible and hit the ground running. I need to start my day on a strong note so that I can actually feel fulfilled and relax at the end of the day.
If you also struggle, here are some tips that can help you start your day on a strong note.
Don’t jump out of bed.
If it’s possible at all, don’t get out of bed the moment you open your eyes. Instead, stay there for a while, sitting down or doing some stretching. This will ease you into waking up without rudely shaking the cobwebs of sleep away from your brain.
I do this for 10-15 minutes, and by the time I go downstairs to make coffee, I don’t feel too sluggish anymore.
Or at least sit in silence for 10-15 minutes. This is different from sitting in bed as you ease out of sleep. If you have a patio or a garden, sitting there in silence will do you a world of good. Take the time to psych yourself up for the day ahead.
I used to NOT eat breakfast. My stomach just wasn’t used to having food early in the morning. Since I had serious health issues last year, though, I have had to eat breakfast – something more than coffee, that is. Surprisingly (for me, at least), having two slices of toast with a bit of butter and jam for breakfast works really well for me! Not only does it help me wake up even more, it also has become a signal to my brain that it’s time to get ready for work.
Start with the task you dread the most.
This is a common piece of advice, although it’s usually phrased as “deal with the most difficult task first”. The reason I used “dread” is that, for me, sometimes the task I don’t look forward to is not the most difficult one. In a sense, though, because I dread the task, it ends up being difficult to complete.
The trick is to get this out of the way first thing in the morning. Once this is done, then I get in the zone and everything seems so much easier.
I realize these tips may not work for everyone, and some of you may not even need them (especially if you’re a morning person who has no problems getting started every day). If you’re looking for new habits to form, though, why not give these a try?
And, if you have some of your own tips that work for you, do share them in the comments!
Is it organization that you need help with? Here are the best software and apps to keep freelancers organized.
“Make up your mind, woman!”
I don’t blame you if that came to mind as you read the title of this post. How is it possible to embrace and let go of something at the same time? Well, folks, I think I have found that thin line between multitasking and focusing on the work at hand.
It’s a very thin line that, I admit, I sometimes stray from.
Letting go of multitasking
While I was thinking about how to structure this post – and even as I write – I got rid of the usual online distractions. My Twitter client is not online. Facebook window is minimized. Instant messaging is offline (although this is usually the case for me).
In this sense, I have let go of multitasking: when facing a task that requires focus and concentration, multitasking just doesn’t work.
Some of you may disagree with me, but based on my own experience, the habit of switching from one task to another in speeds faster than even The Flash can manage leads to sub-par work. Sure, I can still get articles done. I can get “more” done by dealing with email, writing, chatting, etc. all at the same time, but at the end of the day, quality suffers.
That was a compelling enough reason for me to let go of multitasking.
TIP: When you really, really need to focus on writing, use your tablet if you have one. I call my iPad my distraction-free writing zone, and I do get more (quality) work done on it – as long as it is straight out writing.
Having said all that, how on earth can I even think of embracing multitasking?
Context is everything, folks.
While I avoid multitasking when writing, I do immerse myself in various activities in other situations.
One of the most important processes that a writer goes through is coming up with ideas for a piece. Then there’s deciding on an angle and outlining. For me, this takes longer than the actual writing; and more often than not, I get the best ideas, find the most appropriate angle, and come up with a decent outline when I am doing something else.
What’s this something else?
Washing the dishes. Sitting out in the balcony playing a brainless game on the iPad. Mopping the floor.
The same goes for when I am trying to untangle work-related knots. Multitasking works then.
So this is how I have come to terms with multitasking, an activity that has been praised to high heavens – and shot down more often.
How about you? Do you stand by multitasking? Do you avoid it at all costs? Or have you found a middle ground like I have?
Share your thoughts in the comments!
A day before New Year’s Eve, I find myself getting some work done. I know it’s supposed to be a break, but there are some things I need to finish and some things I need to prepare for. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more than a couple of you who are in the same boat.
And while I do believe that change does not have to happen only when a new year comes in, it does have a nice symbolic ring to it. So, as I sit here going through a partially mental, partially written out list, I thought it might do good to share some thoughts with you. It would also be great to hear how you prepare for new beginnings!
Out with the old, in with the new – or so they say. To be honest, though, there isn’t much I would throw away.
Delete or archive files
Maybe I am a hoarder that way, but one thing that is important for me to do is to delete or archive files that I have accumulated in 2012.
For sure, you also have massive amounts of files that you probably would not be needing in the next year. What do you do with them? I prefer to be quick and painless about it: simply delete those I know I would never take a look at again and store the rest in an external hard drive.
I’ve had my share of failures in the past year, both personally and professionally. While totally forgetting these events is impossible, being able to let go of their crippling effects and facing the new year with a spring in my step is at the top of my list. Being a realist, I know that this is probably not an overnight thing, but the intention is there.
New habits, new tools
I once read somewhere that when you let go of something, you open yourself up to new things. Staying on the practical side of things, I think that this section is mainly all about tools that can help me improve my workflow. I’ve been looking at some tools that will – hopefully – help me create new, better habits. Here is what I have so far.
Asana is a task management platform for teams, and while I usually work alone, I do collaborate on some projects with other people. Asana is perfect for keeping tabs on each other, what we’re doing, and how the project is going along. It also is a great reminder/to-do tool.
I have been using Buffer for almost a year, but not as regularly as I should have. This tool helps in making social sharing more organised as it allows you to space out your tweets and Facebook updates. It also gives you basic stats about the links you share.
My Team Monitor
Just in case you do lead a team, the chances are you do so remotely. Then you might be interested in www.myteammonitor.com, a tool which I have been looking at since it’s at the beta stage, and use is free. It allows you to track the productivity of others wherever you may be. It’s not exactly the first thing that comes to mind as a freelancer, but I have encountered some freelancers who have been building up their business to the point that they have several sub-contractors who do some work for them.
One of the most difficult aspects of making money from home is the “from home” part. Although this is appealing to most, writers quickly learn that working from home is no easy task. There are many tips available to help a writer stay focused, but the biggest distraction usually isn’t the food in the kitchen or the soap opera that comes on at noon. The biggest distraction is, of course, the computer. The particularly tricky part of this truth is the idea that writers have to work on the computer. In other words, writers need to somehow figure out a way to be productive on the very thing that causes distraction.
Fortunately, there are many browser extensions that a writer can put in place to help make sure that he/she can be a successful writer without the distractions. Although many writers have made it work without any help, it’s easy for the day to drag on and last twelve hours. The goal for a writer online should be to have a typical eight hour workday, and browser extensions can help.