Working in chunks

Ever since I started working from home, one of my biggest challenges had been being productive. When you are working from another room in the house, the opportunities for distractions have been far greater. Whether it is to satisfy an urge to get something to munch from the refridgerator, or to go play with the kids, or to get a quick update on match on TV, etc, the list can be endless.

Over the past few months I have found a few things that worked for me and I thought of sharing them. The motivation for sharing is partly because some of these tips I picked up from a variety of blogs on freelancing and work@home.

I had to adopt some strategies as some attributes that help successful freelancing do not come naturally for me. One of the worst being I used to be a champion on procastinating.

Practice some sort of GTD:
You don’t have to be a champion on GTD. But it helps to have some sort o a workflow that you follow. GTD proposes a great workflow and I use a slimmed down version of that.

One of my main challenges has been in finding the tools. I am yet to find my ideal tool. But between a notebook (the paper type, not a computer), my iPhone with a few free task applications, Google tasks, I make an attempt to record all the stuff that needs to get done.

I also a great fan of unfuddle for managing software projects. It provides a tool that is more geared toward software projects without the overkill or the complications of major project management tools, which is ideal for small projects with small teams and short timelines.

Find the times that work for you best:
All of us have times that we are more productive than the other times. These are the times when our energy levels are highest and our concentration is sharpest.

For me these times are the morning and the night. So I have planned my work day in such a way that I can make use of these times.

I schedule other activities such as meetings that requires me to go out and meet clients to those times that my energy I low. Having to go out and meet people is better option when you’re energy is low rather than trying to work on your own.

But I am not always able to dedicate these times for doing paid work. Go instance some mornings I have to drop and pick my daughter to school. An sometimes there are other errands or family matters that need to be done at those times. If that happens I shift my work hours to other time slots.

Stick to a schedule as much as possible:
One of the first things I tried to do when I started out was to get rid of all schedules. And that was the biggest mistake I made. Nothing hardly got done without crunching everything at deadlines.

Set targets:
This is something that helped me to get things done and also to keep my income in check. I target to do a cetain amount of work everyday. There is a monthly target and a weekly target and a daily target. Sometimes I may exceed the daily target but sometimes due to other tasks that I have to attend to, the weekly paid time target may go off target. I try todo my best to cover the weekly target. If I fail to meet my weekly targets, I know that it will result in a dent in my monthly income.

Time box:
This is something that has worked out for me really well and help me deal with procastinating and meeting targets as well. When I work I try to work in a chunk. Spend a chunk of time like 2 hours on a task. I reward myself with a small break after the specified time was spent on the task.

This also helps me meet my targets without getting burned out. This also helpse pace out my day.

Be flexible:
The greatest of plans go off th track. So the key is being flexible and having th ability to adopt the changes and disruptions. I still get irritate when my work plan gets disrupted. But I am trying my best efforts to be flexible. One of the advantages of freelancing is it gives greater freedom to become flexible.

These techniques and this work flow has helped me keep my productivity at a higher level. This also helped me to keep my income in check. One of the great worries of freelancing is the fluctuating income. While getting work is the primary fact in meeting this, once you land work, getting things done will ensure that you deliver on the work that you have taken up.

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