Here is the transcription:
In this workshop, we’ll be covering goal setting and productivity hacks. And one of our goals at School For Freelancers this year is to create more content like this, and so when it’s all said and done here, I would ask that everyone send me an email and I’ll provide my email at the end with any feedback you have because we absolutely 100 percent without a doubt want to make sure that everything we do here is valuable.
We want to make sure that you’re enjoying it, it’s entertaining, but most importantly, it’s valuable information that you can take home, and take actionable steps towards fulfilling your freelance dreams. That is our ultimate goal here, and that’s one thing I want to stress. So again, if you have any feedback, feel free to let me know when everything is said and done here.
So quick introduction. My name is Skip Blankley. I’m the program director, program manager here at School Fo Freelancers. Ultimately, we are dedicated to helping any and every freelancer we possibly can achieve their goals, not just in 2022, as this is focused on.
But in general, we want to make sure freelancing is a very fun, very liberating, and also very challenging career choice. And whether you’re doing it as a side hustle with a full-time job, or if this is something you’re doing full time regardless, there are going to be many challenges and things that you face that most people don’t face, right? Most people with a nine to five.
If some of you are currently working a nine to five, you know this then as well as anybody, but you know, your boss is writing you a check your sometimes and oftentimes your insurance is taken care of, your taxes are taken care of them by themselves and all of that good stuff. And there’s just a lot.
So with that out of the way, I am going to go ahead and dive into the content itself again. What we’re covering today is freelance goal setting and productivity hacks that can and hopefully will make you a more productive human and freelancer this year. That is our goal. We want you and actually, let me confirm real quick. I did just switch to sharing my screen.
Please, if someone could confirm that you can see my screen now, the title slide for the 2022 freelance goal setting and productivity hacks. If someone, perfect! Ok, awesome. So again, my name is Skip Blankley, I’m the program manager here at School For Freelancers, email@example.com, It’s my email again.
If you have any questions about this particular presentation, this workshop, feel free to email me directly. I’m happy to follow up. And speaking to follow-ups, I will be providing a follow-up email, a couple of follow-up emails. One will be providing you with the link to register for your good. Your free treat that if you stick around to the end, you will get access to. And then I’ll have another follow-up email where I am going to provide you with a worksheet that dives into more details related to each of the things we’re going to cover today. So without further ado, we’re going to dive in if I can get-go.
Ok, so we’re going to start with goal setting and how to crush it in 2022, I think “crush it” is a term that gets often overused these days.
Those are just a few of the many challenges freelancers face. And so it’s important to us to bring valuable information to you and anyone else in the freelancing community as often as we can. And so what we wanted to achieve today was basically break down and distill some information that we have found useful and that we’ve used in building this and other businesses over the years.
And I hope you find it useful. And again, if it’s total crap, let me know, if it’s amazing, let me know if it’s somewhere in between. Please let me know we value your feedback and want to again continue to create content that you find valuable.
2022 Freelance Goal Setting and Productivity Hacks
And to be totally honest, we are not necessarily condoning, you know, crush it and hustle culture because we do firmly believe in Work-Life Balance. But that’s another workshop for another time. But the term crush is one that I think holds value these days, and that was especially when it comes to being a freelancer.
You have to go out there, you have to get after it, you have to crush it because you’re competing with a lot of individuals. Whether you’re in photography, graphic design, whatever the case, it matters, not yours. There’s fierce competition out there. There are a lot of people moving into the freelancing space.
It is hands down, becoming one of the most popular ways to make a living, and so competition is getting fierce and so crushing, it is becoming even more important. So no one in the goal setting, we’re going to go into each of these individually, but I wanted to go in and give you kind of a table of contents, so to speak.
We’re going to start with smart goals what that acronym smart stands for. We’re going to dig into how to get specific on those goals, how to divide and conquer, how to get laser-focused, why staying flexible is important as well, why writing them down is important, and then accountability.
Working from home can be a draw and a drawback for many freelancers. If you like having people around to bounce ideas off or simply provide a welcome distraction at lunchtime, then working from home can get lonely. However, if you get too distracted at your local coffee shop, then you need to set up a dedicated workspace.
Many freelancers set up a spare bedroom in their home as their new office. Others rent a coworking space, giving them flexibility and some interaction with others.
Being one of the most important elements to this is going to be something we highly encourage you to do as well and feel free as I work through this material. Throw your questions into the chat. I’m probably going to wait until the end to address them. But if you have any questions related to any of these individual items, feel free to throw it in the chat or just take notes and then we can chat afterward. So digging into the smart goals, so smart stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based.
So specific meaning you need to get very specific on your goals. Don’t do not just write, you know, I want to make a lot of money or I want to become a millionaire this year. Whatever the case may be, you need to get very specific because a goal as loose as I want to become a millionaire, I want to be, I want to get rich is even more vague and even less specific can actually hurt you because you don’t have any measurable being the second item here. Items to compare what your goal was and where you are now and where you need to be, and what will actually need to be done to get there. So they need to be specific.
They need to be measurable, as I just mentioned. To quantify what your goals are, if your goal again you’re starting from zero and you have not landed your first client yet, you know maybe a measurable goal for this year is to land five clients.
You know, let’s just use a freelance photographer as an example. Five wedding gigs is your goal knowing that you can make, maybe on average, between five and ten thousand dollars per year, you can now set a number goal for the amount of money you would like to make or the number of clients you’d like to make, knowing what each of those are worth and then achievable, you know, achievable and realistic are kind of in the same vein here. You want to make sure that what you’re what goal you’re setting is achievable. If you raise the bar too high, you’re going to let yourself down and that disappointment is going to weigh on you.
There is a psychological impact any and every time you miss your target, whenever you miss your goal, part of being a freelancer is picking yourself up by the bootstraps falling, failing, but getting back up, brushing it off, and moving on. But it’s still there’s no reason to introduce failures unnecessarily, and by setting goals that are unrealistic, you’re doing just that. If you’re trying to, if you’re going, if you’re picking up a camera for the first time again, going back to the photography example, if you’re picking up a camera for the first time in January of 2022, it’s not realistic to make $200000.
You know, being a freelance photographer this year, it’s not impossible. I would never say that anything is impossible, but I would say that it is not quite as realistic as may be making, you know, $20000 this first year. As a photographer, if you’re just picking up a camera for the first time and then time-based, you’ll want to chunk it. Right now, we’re focused on 2022 because it’s, you know, we just started the new year and it’s a really good time to set time-based goals based on the calendar year of 2022, but also breaking and chunking that down into quarters.
You know, every three months, every six months, every month, every week, every day, having specific goals. So breaking all of those down and following the smart philosophy is hands down the best place to get started. And that’s why it is number one on the list.
The next is to get we’re going to dig into getting specific because again, getting specific means you need to avoid general statements and narrow your focus on details like, I’m putting this in here again because it is absolutely critical that you get specific because, without specific and measurable goals, you’re going to fall short again. If you just have an I want to get filthy rich this year as a goal, it is not going to serve you because you can’t measure that.
There are so many people who have so many different definitions of what it means to be rich, what it means to be wealthy, what it means to be successful. You need to quantify this. Get very specific if that specific specificity involves. Again, a number being I want to land my first client in January, right, that could be one of your goals. If you already have your equipment and you have the skills you need and you want your goal to be land your first client in January, or it could even be land your first client by the end of March, you know, whatever is realistic and achievable for you.
If you’ve been doing this for 10 years and you just want to take it to the next level, you know, do the math. How much did you make freelancing last year and then set a realistic expectation of increasing that by 10, 20, 30 percent this year. You know, if you made $50000 last year, you know, set a goal for 60, set a goal for 70, but again, keep it realistic. But most importantly, keep it specific. The more specific it is, the more measurable it is. What gets measured gets managed as the old adage, and it is absolutely true.
Moving on to number three. So breaking down. So divide and conquer. You want to break down your goals into manageable chunks and set milestones.
As I mentioned before, you know you, and also be sure to celebrate the wins along the way and remember your why. So going back to breaking down your goals into manageable chunks and into set milestones, as I mentioned before if you have a goal of let’s say you want to make, if you’re just getting started as a freelancer and you want to make $60000 as a graphic designer this year, then you need to find out how many clients you’ll need, how many logos you’ll need to design, how many websites you’ll need to design, how many business cards you’ll need to design you’ll have. And this goes in.
That’s this at this point, you’re digging into the details and the specifics of how to create measurable goals. You’re going to break down those goals into manageable chunks, right? So making sixty thousand dollars by the end of January is likely not to happen, but you can make two three, four or five thousand by the end of January. If your ducks are in a row and you perhaps have a few cold leads to follow up with or warm leads, for that matter. But again, break it down into measurable chunks, so give yourself a goal for the month of January, give yourself a goal for the month of February, etcetera. You know, break down that $60000. Divide it by the number of months in the year, the number of weeks in the year, etcetera.
And figure out how much you’ll need to make, how many prospects you’ll need, how many clients you’ll need to land, how many deals you’ll have to close in order for that goal to be achievable by the end of the year. Again, breaking it down into manageable chunks. Do not break it down into unmanageable chunks. Be very careful not to put all the weight on January and February because oftentimes it takes time to build momentum and you’d be surprised if you’re new to this. How you can go You can have a slow January February and then you get a client in March, April, May, June.
You end up landing six or seven or 10 clients because momentum builds and referrals are a huge piece, and we’ll get into that in a future workshop. You know, getting referrals and getting more people to tell other people about your services is hands down one of the best ways to get new clients. But that compounds over time with one client making one referral. You’ve got two clients, right? If you have 10 clients making each of them making one referral, you have 20 clients. So again, things will compound over time, and it’s really important to stay focused on breaking those goals into chunks. So again, be sure to celebrate the wins along the way and remember your why, this is really important because you’re going to get hung up.
If you set a goal to make $60000 this year and it’s March or April or May and you’ve only made 10, it’s going to be very easy to get discouraged and very easy to fall back on your goal. Maybe try to adjust your goal. But if you stay focused and stay the course and remember you’re why, you know, define your why? Why is it you’re doing this? Is it that you are working a job that you absolutely hate and you have this itch to be creative as a graphic designer, as a film producer, as a photographer, as a makeup artist, it really doesn’t matter whatever it is that you’re pursuing if that’s something you’re passionate about.
And oftentimes freelancers are doing just that, they’re pursuing something they are passionate about. Perhaps your job is too demanding. Too many hours are required of you and you have a family that you want to spend more time with. And you know that freelance photography or graphic design would allow you to work from home, giving you more freedom and flexibility. So building whatever it is, define your why, and remind yourself of that on a regular basis.
Next, and definitely one of the more important ones is getting focused, and this is part of what we’ll dive into in the second half of this regarding productivity hacks, but getting focused and we’ll dive in again. We will dive into some really clever ways to get and stay focused, but you need to decide on what needs to be done to achieve your goals and get laser-focused by avoiding distractions.
When you set goals, you need to hold yourself accountable to those goals. You need to get focused and you need to stay focused. And staying focused is hands down one of the most important, overlooked, and hardest things to do in this day and age. As we all know, there is so many, so many devices and so many platforms, and so many between email and text messages and notifications from Facebook and Instagram, etcetera. Everybody wants your attention, and it’s going to be very difficult to not give your attention away. And so getting and staying focused on your goals is absolutely critical.
So, you know, in my case, I keep my goals front and center. I journal every single day, every morning after I work out. And in that journaling, I have at the top of my journal. I have my goals and I have just a few quotes that kind of keep me inspired and keep me focused on my why. And so again, that focus is if you for me personally, if I’m not reviewing my journal because I’ve definitely had hiccups and I still have them from time to time where I don’t journal and when I don’t, I don’t see those goals at the top of my journal every morning.
And it’s I find it that much easier to get distracted and to lose focus. And so whatever it takes to get you and keep you focused. Commit to it. And again, we’ll dive into that in more detail in the next section on productivity.
So staying flexible. So I mentioned this previously, and this is something that is very important. If something comes up, a new opportunity presents itself or something unexpected happens. Be ready to pivot if necessary. This is different than this is not getting unfocused, right? This is. It could actually be you getting unfocused if it’s something that presents itself, that is not something you should be pursuing. But if something does come up, a new opportunity presents itself. You know, I had a friend years ago who was doing freelance photography and an opportunity came along.
He started dabbling in video production because, you know, oftentimes photographers and video videographers are one in the same. They both have a lot of the same skills. They’ve learned the camera, they’ve learned lighting, they learned color, etc. And so he started getting opportunities to do film. And those opportunities ended up being much more lucrative and fruitful for him. And he enjoyed it just as much, if not more than the photography. So he pivoted. You know, he had had a goal of becoming a full-time freelance photographer, largely focused on weddings. And then the video opportunities came along, and so he pivoted, and he is glad that he did.
He’s still doing video to this day, still does photography from time to time, but video is his main focus. And so again, set goals. But be flexible, you know, keep an open mind. If something comes along that is worthy of your time and attention, then give it some time and attention. But there is no magic formula for deciding what is worth pursuing as a distraction, as an alternative route to freelance freedom.
You know, there’s no formula. You just need to follow your gut is honestly it sounds cliché and ridiculous at times, but personally, in my experience, following my gut has, you know, when I follow my gut, I end up much happier when I don’t follow my gut and I go against something that is telling me, No, you know, this seems like a really good opportunity right now, but that person, they’re a little shady or this just seems a little rocky. And I’m not 100 percent convinced when my gut is telling me that and I pursue it anyway. Ninety-nine percent of the time I end up getting burned and so, you know, knowing your goals, knowing your and everybody is going to have unique goals, everybody is going to have a unique path and everyone’s going to have a unique vision for their future.
But the more in-tune you are with what you really want in life and what you want out of your freelancing career, the more likely you are to be able to detect a good opportunity versus a bad opportunity if a distraction does come along. So again, stay focused, but be flexible if something does come along.
Moving on. So probably the most important piece here is right, and these are in no particular order, by the way, in order of importance, everything I think here is important, and don’t take any weight with number one versus number five or six or seven. But writing your goals down is hands down one of the most important aspects of goal setting. Again, I write mine down. They sit at the top of my journal and then I have a document for each of the particular projects I’m working on.
I have a Google Doc and, in that Google Doc, I have the goals listed at the top of every single one of those projects. And this is for my personal projects and also for any client work that I’m doing, every single client that I work with. I open up a Google document. I call it personally the project playbook. The project playbook at the very top, every single time without fail has the goals short and long-term goals for that particular project. I write those down and I visit those goals, revisit those goals every single week for every single project.
I read through those goals to make sure that we are still in. We’re still on track and we’re still aligned with those goals, what are the original goals that we set out to achieve is so, so easy. You’d be surprised if you haven’t already if you’ve set goals in the past and then, you know, six months go by and you go to revisit the goals you wrote on January 1st. You know, earlier that year, it’s amazing how some of those goals are very like some of those goals have been checked off, but some of those goals don’t even exist anymore. They’re not even, you know, the goals that you had originally set out.
So again, revisiting them on a weekly monthly basis gives you an opportunity to stay focused on what’s important, but also gives you the opportunity to pivot if you need to. You know you can change the goals, these things are not set in stone, but it is important to write them down, to reread them, to revisit them as often as possible, and again put them in a place. You’ll see them every single day. For me, it’s at the top of my journal. Put it right on a post-it note and put it in your mirror. Make it a wallpaper for your phone. I’ve seen it work with people who have done that in the past, and it’s whatever it takes to get your goals in front of you on a daily basis. I recommend doing it.
So accountability? Yeah, this one’s huge. And this is one that I have struggled with in the past, especially with COVID. You know, for example, when I was working out, getting up super early, working out with a good friend of mine, going to the gym every morning and COVID hit and we stopped going to the gym for obvious reasons. And so as soon as I stopped going to the gym every morning with my friend. I then quickly realized that holding myself accountable was incredibly difficult. Within weeks, within just a couple of weeks, my workout routine dropped dramatically.
And you know, I put on a few pounds since COVID kicked in and I’ve, you know, get back on the bus. But it’s difficult to stay on track with these things unless you have someone helping to hold you accountable. You can tell yourself all day, I told myself so many times that I’m going to be super disciplined and I’m going to hold myself accountable. But it is so, so rare to find individuals that are capable of truly holding themselves accountable on all fronts, right? You know, I’m pretty disciplined when it comes to business and my freelancing. But when it comes to, say, working out, if I don’t have that accountability partner to hold me accountable, then I find it very difficult to stay on track.
So anyway, find your accountability partner on your accountability buddy as they’re called, find someone that can hold you accountable. They can check in with you a really, really good place to start. And this is actually something I’ll get to what we’re going to be launching here soon. What’s the School For Freelancers on the accountability front? But one of the best places as a freelancer, one of the best places for you to find strong accountability is in other freelancers, other people that have similar goals. You don’t have to both be pursuing the same specific career.
You don’t necessarily need to be both getting into photography or graphic design or whatever the case. But you both, if you both have, if you both have nine to five jobs, for example, and there’s some overlap in your goals and where you are currently, that is one of the best. That’s the key. If you can find someone who is in a situation very similar to yours, the more like your situation they are and the more like their goals yours are. That’s you cannot ask for a better scenario, but it’s not necessarily required. You know, if your partner could be your accountability partner, your parents, your brother, your sister, you know, a sibling, an aunt and uncle, a best friend, whatever the case may be, they don’t have to necessarily be in the same hometown.
They don’t even I mean, in this day and age, they could be anywhere they could be on the other side of the planet and you could still communicate and hold each other accountable. And quick check-ins are absolutely critical. I am guilty of this, quite guilty of this, where I will mean a friend will commit to checking in on goals that we’ve set. And then we’ll do daily and weekly check-ins. And then those daily turned to weekly and then the weekly turn to monthly and then the monthly turns to nothing. And then we’re not following up with each other anymore.
And then we both just kind of moved on from whatever that original call is, and we’re still doing our thing. But we’re not holding each other accountable. And I have noticed time and time again that when I am being held accountable and when I am holding others accountable, I can get so much more done and I would encourage you if you don’t have one. Please, please, please get it on about an accountability partner and our announcement on that front, we have many more details coming, but we are starting a freelance community with School For Freelancers where we are going to help hold you accountable and we are going to encourage those within the community to hold one another accountable as well. So I think it’s absolutely critical for now to find an accountability partner wherever you can.
But rest assured we are working on solutions for this as well. And that’s a part of our goals for 2022, is to bring you the accountability you need to achieve your goals.
All right. So that wraps up the goal-setting piece. If you have any questions, again, feel free to toss them in the chat. But we’re going to move on to productivity and I will address all of your questions at the end. All right, sorry to take a sip of water. So productivity is something that I am and my wife gives me crap often that I am a little too obsessed with productivity. And granted, I’m not the best. I am far from perfect in this category, but I can tell you that over the years, I have learned a lot about how to get and stay productive.
A lot of this advice is, you know, again, this is what works for me and when I have seen work for others that we’ve worked with over the years. And so I would encourage you to do as many of these as you can, by all means, you know, take what I’m saying today, both on the goal-setting and with these productivity hacks. Make it your own. It is absolutely critical that if something doesn’t work for you, stop doing it. If you’re just avoiding doing something because it sounds uncomfortable or sounds like something you don’t want to do.
I would encourage you to at least try it. But regardless, whatever your approach is and wherever you’re at with your ability to getting stay productive, I encourage you to at least try what you’re not doing in this list. Give it a shot. Give it some time. And if it works for you, if it works for you, if you modify it to some degree, modify it by all means. Again, whatever works for you, everybody has different circumstances. Everybody has different brain patterns. Everybody has different bodies and minds and approaches to everything. And so again, take what is worthwhile from this and then modify it to fit your lifestyle.
So I am, as I mentioned before, I slipped off the radar on the fitness category when COVID hit, and I’m still recouping from that, sadly, almost two years later. But I do know for a fact that getting my mind right through exercise and eating well has hands down been one of the most effective ways for me to get and stay productive, exercise has proven time and time again to be really, really effective in helping people stay focused.
There is a really, really good book called Spark the Revolutionary, I think it’s called Spark, and then the tagline is the revolutionary new science of exercise. And the brain, I believe, is something along those lines. They dig into a lot of the science, a lot of the studies that have been performed related to all things exercise and how movement and exercise and doing them routinely is hands down one of the best ways to get and stay sharp.
It is a great way to, you know, on a daily basis, get and stay productive. I know this for me personally, if I’m having a rough day and I’m just having a hard time getting and staying focused on something if I go for a quick run, a quick bike ride, a quick workout, even just a quick stretch, a walk around know half-mile, walk around the block or a mile walk around the neighborhood. My productivity is increased dramatically by the time I get back home and back or back to the office and back in front of the computer. So I cannot encourage you enough to exercise any right.
And there’s if you just Google again, Spark is just the tip of the iceberg, in my opinion, in terms of the science that backs up how important eating well and exercising is. It’s hands down, absolutely one of the most important pieces when it comes to getting, and staying productive. It’s a really good way to reset your head, so to speak. If you’re having a bad day and it’s a really good way just to stay on top of staying focused as you work through the day and through the week.
Meditation this is hard for a lot of people and it’s very hard for me. But when I am consistently meditating, my ability to stay focused is uncanny. I think some people have, you know, do a complete 180. I have friends that also have meditated over the years, started meditating over the years, and they report some of them, report back, say I can’t do it. This is too hard. They give up. They move on and some do it and do it consistently and get good results. But for me personally, when I’m meditating consistently, I get phenomenal results. My ability to get and stay focused is hands down. Meditation has been one of the best ways for me to achieve that. You know, again, it’s been proven to lower blood pressure, lower blood pressure, decrease anxiety and dramatically increase one’s ability to focus and not just get focused, but to stay focused for long periods of time. Again, meditation has. Absolutely been a game-changer for me, and I encourage you to start meditating, there is a ton of resources out there. I personally use the Headspace app, Waking Up is another app, and then there’s tons of stuff. If you just go to YouTube, there are tons of guided meditations as well. But honestly, ten minutes a day once a day is plenty. And that’s kind of where I started, and I’m currently kind of in and out of the habit.
I’m trying to stick to it on a daily basis. But you know, for me personally, I’m doing 10 minutes in the morning, first thing in the morning before the day has a chance to get away from me and start distracting me. And then I do it again in the afternoon, mid-afternoon, usually between maybe like two and four o’clock. I’ll quickly meditate just to kind of reinvigorate myself if I’m starting to feel a bit faded and I’m starting to lose focus. Doing a quick meditation and then going for a quick walk, I can sit back down and work again for several more hours, but I need to. So again, can I encourage you enough to start meditating.
Avoiding distractions is so hard to do these days. It seems impossible sometimes, and I know for myself and in all my friends and family like it is just with everything going on in the world today, it is very difficult to turn off the news to turn off the TV, to turn off the never-ending doomscrolling of Facebook and Instagram. But I can assure you, the world is going to keep on spinning and everything is going to be fine. If you turn off the notifications, if you turn off the news, if you turn off, if you know I mean, I would say go so far as to delete your Facebook and your Instagram from your phone and then have to reinstall them every time you want to use them is a hack that I’ve used in the past.
I currently don’t go that far these days, but I know that for some that have a really bad problem with picking up their phone every 10 minutes to check Facebook and just do mindless scrolling, deleting the apps from their phone is sometimes a necessary measure. Maybe that’s you. Maybe it’s not. But regardless. Turn off your notifications on your devices, turning them off on your phone. I personally, love the new iOS on the iPhone. It has the focus modes where you can, you know, for example, just let people that are on your favorites list call you.
If, there is something that a family member needs to talk to you about and you want that call to come through. You can. You can do that while turning off all the spam calls and all the other random notifications that your phone would otherwise send you. And so, you know, setting your boundaries and turning off the distractions is hands down one of the most important pieces to the productivity pie. It is huge, and in this day and age again, it is absolutely it’s. It is so difficult to pull it off. Admittedly, I fall victim to the distraction machine that is the internet in general. For me personally, I don’t spend much time on Facebook or Instagram, but for me personally, mine is YouTube.
The YouTube algorithm has gotten really good at giving me little video clips that distract the crap out of me on a regular basis. But when I need to focus and I need to get things done, YouTube doesn’t even get opened. I don’t even attempt myself anyway. Take a quick break is does anybody have any questions? If there’s anything, please let me know in the chat. If this is worth your time, let me know if this is a waste of time.
Let me know if I’m on the right track. If you feel like this is helpful, please let me know. Otherwise, I’m going to keep moving on regardless. But I would appreciate knowing that you guys are enjoying this or not. And if you have any questions again, please feel free to post them. And here I do want to spend some time in the last 10 minutes or so going through the questions, and I am realizing now that I am going a little over on time. So I’m going to ride through these really quickly. These last few. And again, I’m going to send a follow-up email with a lot of useful information as a thank you to everyone for attending.
So when it comes to staying focused and avoiding distractions, Pomodoro technique So the Pomodoro technique is so Pomodoro is actually Italian for tomato and this is the reason why it’s called the Pomodoro technique is that the person who coined it, I’ve forgotten his name.
He actually used a tomato-shaped timer, you know, like one of those old-school oven timers where you turn the knob and it. Down whatever the time you set, and so these were often used for cooking. Back in the day before, you know, there were timers on Alexa devices and iPhones and watches, etc. But the Pomodoro technique essentially is you set a time, whether in the original Pomodoro technique was done in 20 minute increments. I started it 20 minutes quickly realized I was not long enough. I went to 30 and I’m now currently after doing this for about five or six years.
I’m currently at forty-five minute, I’m sorry, 40-minute increments with a five-minute break. So what that means is I set a timer. I have an app on my Mac that I set a 40-minute interval for. So for 40 minutes, I don’t do anything else except what task I am working on. So I open, you know, my project management software. I open up the browser windows that I need to use for that particular task, and I sit down and for 40 minutes. If I had the urge to check Facebook, I fight it and I don’t open Facebook. If I have the urge to watch a YouTube video, I don’t let myself do it.
If an idea comes to me, I put it down on a notepad, whether it’s a notepad on my desk or I open up a quick note on my computer and I take that note of that idea. Sometimes some of the best ideas you have. If you’re working on multiple projects like I am, you’ll be working on one project and then you’ll say, Oh, well, this would actually apply really, really well to this other project I’m working on. But you don’t need to dive in and start working on that other project. You don’t need to dive in and start working on something that would ultimately be distracting you from what you’re supposed to be focused on instead.
Just jot down a note, a quick note that says, you know, take what it was that I’m working on and apply it to that other project and just put that as a note, put it aside, and then revisit those notes on your breaks in between the 40-minute intervals. Again, in my case, it’s 40 minutes for you. It could be 20, could be 30 could be an hour. I would not recommend going over an hour, hour and a half of the absolute most. I think there’s a point of diminishing returns that’s been proven time and time again. After about an hour, hour and a half, you start to lose focus. Your brain wants to do something else.
You get the urge to. For me personally, I will always get the urge to get up, to move, to stretch, to get some water. And so if you find if you set yours for 40 minutes and you find that after about 30 minutes, your focus starts to wane and you start to get that urge to get up and move, then set your timer, set your interval for 30 minutes and go from there. And again, do not do anything during that, except the one task you sat down to work on and then use that five-minute break to get up to stretch, to get some water, use the restroom, you know, distract yourself, step outside, get some fresh air.
It’s something I definitely encourage everyone to do. I think stepping away, looking away from the screen, especially if you’re spending a lot of time working on a computer, as I do, it’s good to step outside, give your eyes a break from the screen. You know, look at the trees, listen to the birds.
Just, you know, even if you’re in a city, you know, look at the close five buildings and just breathe in the city or the country or wherever it is you’re located and move through these last ones pretty quickly. So focus on music, this one is huge for me. Personally, I grew up listening to a lot of hard rock punk rock, and just that was very much and still is very close to my heart.
I’m a huge fan of, you know, guitar solos and drum solos and loud, obnoxious music that made my mom cringe when I was growing up. But I don’t listen to that when I’m working. What I listen to, when I’m working personally is, for me, it’s ambient music, very soft, relaxing music that without there are no beats, there’s no lyrics. There are no distractions. It is just soft, atmospheric type sounds that, you know, ocean waves, nature sounds that kind of stuff. And that there’s actually I’ll include a link to it. If that is something that you find useful as well, we have. I’ll send you a link to a YouTube channel that I get a lot of. Listen to a lot of my music. If there are no commercials, there are no distractions. It’s just three-hour-long tracks that I listen to throughout the day.
My wife, she’ll put on terrible movies in the background, you know, not movies that she wants to watch, but just bad 80s movies. She’ll put them on in the background and she’ll write, and she will just crush it and absolutely remain laser-focused on what she’s working on, even though she has this terrible movie with all these loud noises going on in the background. That’s not how I focus, it’s how she focuses again. Everyone’s going to be different, but I encourage you to find music, find a Spotify playlist, find a YouTube channel, find music that you can just kind of get in the zone with, and stay in the zone.
And I put mine on repeat. Putting them on repeat is a good way to not have to refresh the playlist or find a new playlist whenever that one runs up, just let it keep going on repeat.
So engineering your space, you know your environment is huge. Engineer your space for maximum productivity. For some, this is a cold, quiet room for others, this is a noisy coffee shop. You know, again, it takes all types for me personally. I wear noise-canceling headphones. I have my own office, whether I’m in the office. But due to COVID, not spending a lot of time there. Much more time is spent at home in the home office. So, you know, I’m lucky in that respect. I have dedicated spaces for my work where I know that I can go avoid distractions. I don’t have anything else in the offices except computers, computer screens and then a few gadgets and whiteboards and that kind of stuff for brainstorming. But for me, my that’s my environment is a very clean room, free of noise and distractions again. Some people prefer a loud, noisy coffee shop. Some people enjoy working outside. I also enjoy working outside. But for me, my environment is a quiet, calm one where I’m able to relax and focus because for me personally, the more I’m able to relax, the more focused I am.
But again, find an environment, curate an environment, put a big do not disturb sign on your bedroom, on your office, in your living room, whatever the case may be. Whatever your circumstances, find and create an environment that can be your own that is just designed for maximum productivity. And again, that you define what that environment looks like, but define that environment because it will, in fact, help you get and stay productive.
So last but not least, guard your time. Your time is the most precious asset you have. I recently was listening to a podcast and they were talking about how people can waste our time and we give them permission to waste our time. If someone walks up to you and grabs your wallet and takes 20 dollars and walks off, you’re going to retaliate, right? They’ve just stolen 20 dollars from you. But if someone walks up to you and talks to you for 20 minutes about total nonsense, that doesn’t serve you and they’re just venting, you know, maybe you’re just being a good friend, you know, maybe you’re being a good partner. Maybe you’re being a good brother, sister, son, wife, whatever the case, by listening to that person. But sometimes that person is just distracting you and they’re just robbing you of your time, and we need to start responding and treating our time the same way we treat our money.
Because, you know, time is money. The time that we spend working turns into money. And if someone’s going to rob you of the hard-earned dollars, think about your time the same way they’re robbing you of your time and again. For me, mine is, getting up before anyone else, letting others know when I’m working and set boundaries with yourself and others. And so, you know, it’s pretty. Both my wife and I during COVID are both lucky enough to be able to work from home, and we both know that we’re both working from home.
But during, you know, nine to five-eight, it’s actually closer to seven to five where we both know that we’re both working and occasionally we’ll disrupt each other. But for the most part, we are very acutely aware of each other’s, you know, time spent working. We’re not going to distract each other. We’re going to let each other from the state get and stay focused. And for me, I’m really big onne is getting up early, waking up before anyone else gets up before my inbox starts, blowing up for the day really starts to distract me. I’m able to. If I wake up at 5:00, I’m able to get two hours of really solid work in before I start getting emails from clients, etc. And so guard your time with your life.
It is absolutely critical. Stop letting others rob you of your time. And it’s not just people, it’s things to right. It’s Facebook, it’s Instagram, it’s Netflix. It is. All of these things are robbing you of your time. And if you’re going to get him stay productive in 2022, you’ve got to guard your time guard it. With your life. All right, that wraps it up, so our general email, as you probably know at this point, your newsletter and every other invite you get is coming from firstname.lastname@example.org, mine is just email@example.com.
I encourage you to reach out to me or the general email where we’re going to respond to anyone and everyone. We want to stay focused on helping encourage people to become the very best versions of themselves through freelancing because as a freelancer, myself and as someone who has worked with dozens of freelancers over the years, I see some of the happiest and most productive people in the freelancing community. When they’re doing it right. It is absolutely critical that you do it right, and that’s part of why we exist. We want to make sure that people like you are encouraged or provided. We want to make sure that we provide you with useful resources to help you make the most of your freelancing career. Because again, in this day and age, freelancing is so much easier than it was, even just a decade ago, let alone 50 years ago.
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But anyway, that is all for now, and I again greatly appreciate everybody’s time. And if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. Take care of yourselves and most importantly, take care of someone else 22, 2022. Let’s make it an awesome one. Cheers.