5 Energy-Boosting Productivity Tips for Freelancers

Carol Tice

woman stretching in officeBy Sarah Clachar

What’s the secret ingredient to a successful freelance writing business?

It’s not brilliance and creativity.

It’s not even good grammar.

It’s energy, and the ability to get down to work and stick with it.

But what really makes the difference between someone who wants to write for a living and one who does is whether you can get stuff done.

For many freelance writers, a cup of coffee is about the only productivity-booster they keep on hand.

As someone who ditched my espresso machine 17 years ago, I’m here to tell you the best stimulants are inside of you. It just takes some effort to tap into them.

Here are my five favorite tactics for making your workday more productive and energized:

Booster #1: Take breaks

It may seem strange that the first tactic I offer for getting more done is to take a break, but nonetheless it’s perhaps one of the best.  By planning to take breaks, you can also commit to getting work done. 

To use these breaks strategically, structure your work time in two ways.

·        First, allot an amount of time to work in a focused way and set a timer for this. I like to set my timer for 30 minutes. But some people do an hour, some do 15 minutes. 

While the timer is going you have to work without stopping. No checking email. No surfing on the web. No snack break.

When the timer goes off, stop. Just stop cold. And take a 5-15 minute break away from your work. Do something completely unrelated to writing like wash some dishes.

Or you can use the break for my next favorite tactic . . .

Booster #2: Exercise

Now before you groan and say you don’t like exercise, hear me out. 

Exercise is not only a waist-trimmer — it’s a brain-charger.

In fact, research has demonstrated that simply by walking on the treadmill for 10-minute spurts, women solved problems faster.

Better yet, exercise is best done in short bursts – not long slogs. So in this case – while I heartily recommend a good hour-long bike ride – that’s not what I’m talking about.

Simply do 5-15 minute bursts of exercise throughout your day. Ten jumping jacks, jogging in place for 60 seconds, a few rounds of sunrise salutations . . . not much.

Not only do these short bursts wake you up and recharge your body, they add up. Over the course of the day, if you keep sneaking these in, you’ll find you’ve gotten a full workout.

And you’ll discover how your mind hums after moving more!

Booster #3: Drink

I’m not talking caffeine, I’m talking water.

Your body depends on water to move nutrients around and to move toxins and waste out of you. Every cell in your body needs to have enough of this special liquid to provide room for the essential chemical reactions performed within them.

When you drink water, you give your body exactly what it needs to perform at its best.

During one of those breaks I just talked about, go fill up an 8-oz. glass and drink it down on the spot. Then fill it up again and take it back to your desk.

You’ll be amazed at how a little hydration can regenerate you and get your writing flow going again.

Booster #4: Nap

One of the problems with depending on caffeine is that we learn to ignore our body’s very real needs for sleep. If you’re tired, you probably need sleep.

Now this doesn’t mean you won’t have to give yourself a lecture sometimes and plug on through. I’ve conquered many a deadline mixed with family crises on a 4-hour night’s sleep.

But overall, you’ll benefit more (and get more done) by listening to your body and doing exactly what it’s telling you. Even if I lose 30 minutes-1 hour of work time to sleep, I make that up with the level of productivity I enjoy when I wake up.

Booster #5: Eat right

When I get stuck on a project, my mind inevitably wanders to the kitchen and the goodies stored up in the snack cabinet.

Bad news when it comes to energy – since most of these goodies I fantasize about are starches laced with sugar.

These may give you a little momentary spark. But soon they’ll leave you feeling more like a slug than when you started. Carbs and sugar put you to sleep.

And they make you crave more until you end up on a roller coaster of energy highs and lows.

When I get low on energy, instead of snacking on muffins, I’ve taught myself to reach for protein or fresh veggies or fruit. On days when I’m really pushing it (remember those 4-hour nights) my favorite lunch is a salad with roasted chicken.

For a wakeup break – if I’m not chugging water – I’ll take a few moments  and savor a refreshing piece of fruit. While the fruit has sugar it also gives me fiber which slows down digestion.

A scoop of peanut butter gives me not only a little protein but some energizing magnesium. And protein-rich hummus (or any other bean dip) boosts my B vitamin intake to fuel my metabolism.

Get more done and feel better

By using these techniques, you’ll have more focus, energy, confidence, and creativity.

And yes, you might even get tedious tasks like bookkeeping done.

Do you have some productivity tactics to add? Share your tips in the comments.

Natural health writer Sarah Clachar has combined her experience as a business owner and healthcare writer to create a unique resource for home business owners — a FREE report on a simple move that can revolutionize your day. To add it to your productivity tool chest, click here.

45 Comments

  1. Amel

    There was a period when I was having a terrible time staying productive. I was tired all the time and couldn’t stay focused. I eventually found out that I was low on iron. My doctor prescribed supplements, and I returned to normal within a week or two and actually had incredible energy. Around this time, I learned how caffeine is bad for people with low iron and gave it up completely in favor of water. The difference was amazing! These days, I might have an occasional cup of coffee, but I now understand how to respect what my body is telling me. If you are feeling tired and unproductive day after day, that is not normal, and something needs to change. Women in particular need to pay attention to things like iron, thyroid levels, and other things that may affect energy. As a Muslim, I am now fasting for the month of Ramadan, which means 16 hours of no food or water each day from dawn to sunset, which brings its own challenges related to productivity and makes it even more important to eat the right foods during non-fasting hours and get sufficient rest throughout the day.

    • Carol Tice

      I suffer from low iron as well, since when I was a kid, Amel. I start every day with tea with a tablespoon of molasses in it for the iron, and take supplements. And eat a lot of broccoli, spinach, raisins, etc.

      I’m impressed with the discipline required to get through Ramadan. We Jews never fast for more than 1 day sunset to sunset, which is hard enough!

  2. Rhonda Kronyk

    Sarah, this is a great list. I do okay with each of these, but there is always room for improvement. Exercise is one that I am going to focus on right now. I walk every morning and evening with the dog, but get little exercise during the day. I love the idea of a couple of short bursts during work breaks to recharge. I am going to start immediately!

  3. Thomas Hill

    Carol:

    How do recommended dealing with stress from clients who promise to pay, based on the signed contract, then “disappear?” This includes clients who I have signed contracts with.

    I had one client who promised me a payment. They finally got back to me 4 months later saying the project has been canceled with the “possibility” (yeah right) of it starting next spring. His final message only came back after I chased down some of the clients business partners and begged them to have to update me (either way). There’s no way I’m dealing with them EVER — I found out that their LLC is inactive!

    Another client promised they would pay me via company credit card or check — this one we signed a contract — tomorrow (7/11) will be 30 days (our agreed upon timeline after submission — and they said it was approved). I’m still waiting on a response back …..

    Along with the lack of payment, spending the extra time looking into suing them and the extra time to commence a lawsuit and keep track of it is awfully stressful and takes away from my marketing and writing time —

    It seems like bad luck, but how much bad luck can I have before it bankrupts me financially and healthwise? It’s frustrating and infurating. Suing them MAY provide some relief for their actions — but doesn’t let me concentrate on my good clients or my business moving forward….

    What do I do?

    With some publishers giving a 4 to 8 week lead-time to get back on pitches — how do I know that my pitches are horrendous, in the middle or knock it out of the park? Two months is a lot of time to be doing something wrong — it helps me develop a bad habit and no feedback to know what I’m doing wrong and how to fix it. Any suggestions?

    I would like to use the pitching question(s) for tomorrow’s tele-seminar!

    Thanks,

    Tom

    • Carol Tice

      This is a guest post, but since you addressed it to me, I’ll just say I’m not in favor of suing anyone. It’s too costly and time-consuming. You should write it off to experience, learn to qualify your clients better, and move on. Use that energy to find new and better clients instead of hiring lawyers and standing around courtrooms.

      I think word spreads fast that you’re litigious and it makes it harder to get future gigs. But most importantly suing keeps you in a really negative, angry head space for a long time. Then you get a judgment, and how will you collect on it? Hire yet another costly professional to try to attach their bank account, etc.? Often you get a meaningless court judgment because the client is broke and there is no money to get.

      Have you already sent a late bill with a 2% late charge and indicated you will charge 2% compounded monthly that it is additionally late? Have you called the accounting department?

      I’d also let them know you will discuss this in social media, that they’re a deadbeat, if they don’t pay.

      As far as how I cope…it’s been years since I was stiffed by anyone, and it only happened once. I sign well-defined contracts with quality clients and have never had a lot of trouble with deadbeats. If this is sort of thing happens a lot, it’s a sign that you’re not qualifying your clients well. You want established, reliable companies with a good reputation and track record of paying freelancers.

      On pitches…if you’re not getting any response, you need to learn more about how to pitch. If you’re getting gigs off your pitches, you’re doing it right. If it’s crickets, something’s wrong.

      We have a lot of resources in my Freelance Writers Den community on that, including a chance to get critiques from me and Linda Formichelli. We’ve also got many useful posts here on this tag:

      https://makealivingwriting.com/tag/query-letters/

      Hope that helps! See you on the call tomorrow.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 5 Energy-Boosting Productivity Tips for Freelancers #freelancing - [...] 5 Energy-Boosting Productivity Tips for Freelancers. [...]

Related Posts

You CAN Write a Query Letter That Gets a “Yes”: 5 Resources

Freelance writer getting a gig after learning to write a query letter.

Love them or hate them, queries are one of the most important marketing tools for any freelancer who wants to write for magazines. And the skills you learn from writing a good query letter also help business writers and copywriters pitch their potential clients.

If you’ve been sending queries off into space and never getting a reply, you may think it’s impossible to break into new magazines. But it’s not true! Editors are always looking for new talent.

To help you learn to write a query letter that will get you the gig, we’ve pulled together a collection of five of our best posts on pitching:

Can’t Write? Try These 9 Ideas for Writing Motivation

It’s the bane of every freelance writer’s life: You know you need to sit yourself down and get some writing done, but nothing happens. The writing motivation just isn’t there. Sometimes, you can't even make yourself sit down with the computer -- even if you...