On the discipline of freelance workers

Working on my own agenda is not new to me but that’s something I have not been doing for the last 10 years at least. To much teamwork and daily meetings made my agenda full on a constant basis, quite easily.
So there is a certain bliss and challenge, to go back to freelance mode for a while.

How do you set-up goals, organize your agenda, get things done and avoid procrastination at all cost ? (Or is that really what this is all about, being able to procrastinate at will !!!)

Well, here are a few hacks I’ve been successfully testing lately:

Know yourself

What drives you ? When are you more active ? What motivates you ?
You have to hack yourself so that you will develop a morning routine if this is your thing.
Some people work better with lists of tasks, from one day to the next.
Other, with a more creative background, need time and space to get through the day and let the emotions and inspiration flow.
I usually start the day with a good healthy breakfast on our terrace (we’re lucky enough to leave and Barcelona and can enjoy nice weather year-long). Then I shower and get dressed as if I’m going to work, and try to respect some coherent timings through the day. This helps, especially as my wife is also a freelancer and we share the flat all day long.
We have to avoid interruptions from each other as much as sync our breaks when we can.

see here for some inspiration

Work in Sprints

My proximity with Scrum Masters might be the culprit here. But splitting your projects into tasks and your time into sprints can be really useful on a daily basis.
First it makes things a lot more manageable. You have a list of tasks, and they are easier to handle. Sprints make projects lighter and achievements tangible. You’ll celebrate your productive day instead of ranting about the time you’ve lost on Facebook.

Use a methodology

I’m using Pomodoro. It’s well documented and flexible enough to tweak it your way.
Pomodoro splits time into chunk of 25 min (by default), with pauses of 3 min between each. Then you start again. When you reach 4 “chunks”, you can take a longer pause, usually of 15 min.
Obviously you can configure these numbers as you prefer and depending on your project.
It has been of great help especially when I need to dive into lengthy code lessons, giving me rhythm in my day.

Put yourself at ease

Good Chair. Nice Desktop. Feel at home (yes you are).
I find that music can be annoying if I need to concentrate, but I need background noise to make my brain active.
I’m enjoy a tea usually more than coffee that stresses me out.
I’ve redesigned my desktop to have everything at reach, and change the perfume of the room.
I am also now using headphones when I need to focus, and try to disconnect the phone & notifications.

Apps are your friends

There are a tons online to help you out. Pomodoro with Alfred 2 allows me to manage my sprints easily.
Noizio and Vox provide me with White noise (fantastic discovery!) and music at will.
Focus disconnect automatically all temptations when needed. No more Facebook, Gmail and News sites to have an excuse to escape from work.
There are plenty of Pomodoro Apps for you to test, so check online to find yours.

Give some space to “the void”

There’s no secret here. It the mood is not there, do not push it. You’ll be productive later.
Here’s what Monty Python’s John Cleese has to say on that:
4 Lessons in creativity from John Cleese
or check the video here

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