International Freelancers Day video review: "Workday Nirvana"

By Katharine Swan On Saturday, October 16, 2010 At 2:28 PM

I finally got around to watching the replay of the video I most wanted to watch in the International Freelancers Day video lineup: "Workday Nirvana: How to remain inspired and productive when you work alone."  I wanted to watch this one because it is so applicable to the productivity issues I'm struggling with right now.

The presenter, Mike McDerment, has some good points.  Here are a few of his main points, and my thoughts on each.

* Have a clean, dedicated, well-stocked workspace and a good chair.  This was really divided into two points.  One, you need a space that no one in your family is going to mess with, that you can close the door on after hours, but also where you can be undisturbed during work hours.  In addition, he talked about the importance of a comfortable chair, since you'll be spending so much time in it!

Well, first of all, my desk is NOT clean.  I clean it a couple of times a year, and the inbox gradually overflows until I clean it all again.  But more importantly, I find that I do better when I don't sit in the same place all day long, so having a dedicated workspace might actually hinder my productivity, in my case.  The comfortable chair I totally agree with, though — I replaced my first desk chair because I couldn't sit in it for very long without feeling uncomfortable.

* Plan your week Sunday night.  I've heard this one before.  The idea is to plan out your week Sunday night, so that you know what you have to do and can get right to work Monday morning.  I already do this in part, since I usually write out my to-do list for the next day the night before — perhaps I could benefit from planning more than one day at a time.

* Dress for the day.  McDerment is actually talking about dressing up.  I don't wear business clothes at home, but I do find that I generally work better if I change out of my pajamas when I wake up.  It doesn't matter if I just put on sweats — the act of changing my clothes seems to signal to my brain that it's time to work.

* Set a daily schedule.  He really advocates working the same hours every day, whether that is 9 to 5 or something different.  I think for some of us it might be more useful to simply set a schedule for the day and stick to it.  Most of us have variable schedules, and in fact, that may have something to do with why we freelance: the ability to choose our own hours.  But I get what he's saying: that having a routine can help you get into a productive mindset during work hours.

* Network.  Part of this tip seems to be that networking lunches get you out of the house.  I do find that getting out of the house helps me to focus with the rest of my day, whereas knowing I'm going to be sitting at home for the next 12 hours tends to make me procrastinate more.  However, my version of getting out of the house during the day is currently limited to going to the barn.  Perhaps I should look at some networking opportunities... though that might be tough, when most of the people I network with are online, rather than local!

* Don't work too hard.  This seems counter-intuitive, but I get what he's saying: If you work too hard, you are going to lose inspiration because you are going to burn out.  He advocates taking breaks, lunches, and working regular hours (no evenings or weekends).  Ha.  I know a couple of freelancers who never break this rule, but they are precious few.  I personally like being able to make the decision to work evenings so that I can spend the warmer, lighter daytime hours at the barn, or working harder some days so that I can take some time off another day.  Unfortunately, I also know what he's saying, that it's easy to let work engulf you, because there really is always something you need to do.  So if you have a more flexible schedule, I think you also need to have the ability to know when enough is enough.

I think I covered all his main points, but I do recommend watching the 20-minutes video if you're interested in finding out more.  You can sign up for free to watch the International Freelancers Day video replays, so why not?

What are your thoughts about his tips for achieving better workday inspiration and productivity?  My main reaction is that these kinds of self-help gurus never tell you how to be disciplined enough to follow their tips in the first place.  I may start out with the best intentions, but any trick I try only works the first few times.  Has anyone else found this to be true?

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Anonymous Mridu Khullar Says:  

I'm a very happy work-at-home, haven't felt a lack of inspiration or productivity lately, and I have to say, I don't agree with many of the points. Dressing up to sit alone at home seems silly at best, to me, though maybe it works for others. I might wear jeans one day, a skirt the next, shorts after that, or just lounge around in my pajamas. I don't think it makes one bit of difference when I'm actually sitting down to write.

I have a room in the house that is my office, but it's messy and disorganized. Just the way I like it. If I were to clean it up, I wouldn't be able to find anything!

And finally-- the hatred of schedules is exactly why I became a freelancer. I like the flexibility-- why let go of that?

I don't want a full-time job and I don't like pretending that I am in one, which most of these points seem to suggest to me. I'm not dissing them at all, just saying they wouldn't work for me.

I think there are no rules to freelancing. We all do what works best for us.

 

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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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