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We all know how glorious those first warm days of spring feel. The trees are blooming, the birds are singing… boy, it’s sure hard to keep your head out of the clouds when the skies are blue and the sun’s shining brightly.
But if you’re outside enjoying the warm weather… who’s running your business?
Spring fever is a notorious distractor for those of us trying to earn a living on our own. There’s no stern manager telling us we’d better hurry back from lunch. There’s no one to stop us from cutting out early and cruising down to the local outdoor restaurant, slipping on our jogging shoes and heading off to the park, or venturing over to the mall for a reckless afternoon of shopping for spring fashions. So with no Big Brother to scold us, how can a freelancer keep springtime distractors from affecting productivity? Here are seven tips.
1. Shift your schedule forward or back a couple of hours. If you normally sit down to work at 9 a.m., try getting up a couple of hours earlier. You can wind down at about 3 p.m. and have the afternoon/evening for yourself. Or, if you’re not a morning person, ease into your day with some mindless activities; spend some time out of doors. Settle down to business at about 11 a.m. and work through to 7 p.m. While you’re doing this, remember all those poor nine-to-fivers who can’t enjoy such a flexible schedule!
2. Break up your work day into sections. Feeling blocked, and/or restless? Don’t fight it. Sitting there for hours trying to get things accomplished when you just can’t concentrate is only going to make the problem worse. Spend a couple of hours doing work, and then if you need to, take some time out to clear your head. Chances are, when you return, you’ll be primed for productivity. And don’t forget that sometimes the greatest ideas are born when the sun goes down!
3. Take a vacation. Sometimes you just have to give your body what it’s asking for: a rest! If work is overwhelming you to the point that you just want to get in your car and drive away, then maybe that’s what you should do. Even just a few days away from the computer will do wonders for your mind, body and spirit. Take a long weekend for a scenic retreat. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel when you get back!
4. Start setting goals on paper. If you aren’t doing this already, the spring season is a great time to get into the habit of setting practical goals. Having that list you can check off is a really handy way to be efficient. It’s sort of like being in the grocery store when you aren’t in the mood to go shopping! Write down the things you need to accomplish and set a completion date (or time) for each task. Set small goals over the course of a work week, and bigger goals over a span of a month or two. Refer back to your list frequently, and don’t forget to reward yourself for your accomplishments. You’ll soon come to realize: goal-setting really helps keep you on track!
5. Designate a time to check email. How many times have you set your mind to a task only to find you’ve lost an entire hour because you made the mistake of checking email? Email is by far the biggest time waster, especially when the weather is warm and everyone’s preoccupied with frivolity. Don’t give in to the temptation! Instead, designate two or three hours of your day to checking and responding to emails as well as deleting old ones that take up space in your mailbox. And NO, that forward your Aunt Millie sent does not count as a work-related email!
6. Take it outside. Who says you have to sit in a dark room staring at the monitor for 9 hours straight? If the weather is balmy, why not enjoy it while at the same time keeping busy! Print out your documents, grab a beach chair and choose a nice, quiet spot where you can work quietly and enjoy the warm sunshine. Don’t forget a paperweight of some kind in case the wind picks up!
7. Do some spring cleaning. Sometimes, the best way to rid your mind of clutter is to rid your workspace of clutter. Grab the paper shredder, go through those old dusty files and clear away all that needless paperwork you’ll never use again. Organize your office so that everything you need is within reach, such as paper clips, folders, pens, pads; and of course, your Springline stapler. Junk those useless computer files littering your computer desktop. Take a trip to Staples for a Rolodex and some stacking file holders. Once you’re done reorganizing, you can finally get down to business!
Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.