Nowadays the entire human society seems to have forgotten about patience and long term vision; any investment needs a quick result, otherwise it’s considered unprofitable. In terms of freelancing it is converted in almost impossible deadlines but amazing results are required, which is of course unrealizable. Nevertheless, the question remains how to compete in these circumstances…any freelancer is still a human being, with a limited power and workflow, and not a machine or a modern enslave (some clients still have problems accepting this situation). The solution to resist in this harsh way of living is to improve your overall effective power which is determined for any web designer or developer by creativity and efficiency. Letting down the definitions from dictionaries, what is the difference between them? More pragmatically, I believe that a person is truly creative when people seeing his work say “wow!” ; a person is efficient when people still say “wow” and don’t believe that the project is finished in such a short time. Being creative and efficient usually is the benefic result of an enduring experience but surely there are some tips which proved to bring improvements (these works for the majority of the designers and developers, none can have the certitude that these could work for everyone).
1. Organize your schedule very clearly
Some wise people consider that freedom is the worst enemy of the creativity; apparently it could sound wrong or even a little bit crazy but thinking deeper it may be correct. Having a lot of time and possibilities wouldn’t put your brain in difficulty and nothing can force it to work better. A clear and well defined schedule presents two great advantages:
- You can have control over your activities, know what you should do and you are able to forecast when a task can be finished;
- A limited horizon means more productive thoughts and the imagination is stimulated.It is dangerous to fall into the extremity to limit the conditions too much -in this case the creativity is reduced to nil.
A good planning isn’t an easy task and anyone must pay full attention to it: a heavy schedule with no breaks isn’t possible to be respected and it is frustrating. A light schedule with few tasks to accomplish is another form of laziness and it is a constant laying to you. Many of us have big problems with the working time, some are feeling that waking up in the morning is better; others prefer the quietness of the night. Clearly, you should work when you are feeling well and happy, else all is turning into an uncomfortable lose of time. Don’t forget, what you plan is what you do!
2. Focus on a single major task, but assure yourself a variety of tasks
Superficially reading is a paradox, even a contradiction but this tip is very effective; no one is Napoleon to be able to do multiple tasks simultaneously, but also no one can work for hours on a row on a single project without being bored of it. To produce masterpieces it’s obvious that a lot of effort and time is needed but inspiration is a matter of hours so only small tasks can be well done without any pause. The best recipe consists in altering the tasks in such a way to avoid boredom, the greatest enemy of creativity (very personal opinion). One of these tasks should have the highest priority and all the efforts should be pushed to realize it. I am very glad to let you know that all these points are interconnected and, in fact, the main tips from this post are the main chapters of a complete strategy of improving the efficiency and creativity of everyone. I emphasized this to be easily noticed; the connection between the first and second tip: a good schedule always allows determining the most important project in order to focus on it.
3. Work as a professional no matter for what kind of clients
Another factor which contributes to the improvement of creativity and efficiency, and unfortunately 99% has a bad influence, is the pressure of the clients. Please don’t think that your clients are your superiors or the ones who pays your bills, they are only some people who need your services and it is quite normal that they should pay you. Keep in mind, your creativity needs some limitations to be optimal, but the pressure is a real disaster. This attitude will make you lose some clients but this is quickly averaged out by the fact that many hours of tension and nerves are avoided. Any compromise is a back stain on your evolution so never give up being a pro. The middle way is always the best solution and here is no exception: don’t disturb your positive attitude (a very necessary condition of being efficient) being rude with your customers, it is perfect to have the diplomacy to make them understand that their requirements are in your head but they can’t interfere in your process of creation. Point!
4. Take care of your workroom!
Any freelancer is spending regularly many hours in front of his PCs, usually in a small private office or even in the house in an improvised work room, anyway the location isn’t playing a big role in the equation of improving the productivity. Living more than half of a day in this space multiplied with the number of the working days along a year will give you an idea about how important is this. A normal and very human reaction is simply to become tired of this medium and in consequences the creativity and efficiency is on a low level. The remedy against this annoying fact is to make your room more enjoyable. I could say, from my experience, that it is really amazing, any small and pleasant modification has a positive effect on your workflow. A change of furniture is a good example, but very few of us can allow doing it often, but there are many other minor modifications which can have magical powers: the theme of your OS, the desktop wallpaper or the overall design of your workroom. Please try it and put it in a comment your opinion and share with us your experiences.
5. Pushing yourself to the limits isn’t equivalent with better results!
Pushing yourself to the limit every day, believing that you will work much more is false. The human being has its specific features and one of them is the fact that the effective power gets to a maximum limited to few hours per day and to reach again this peak is needed recreations and sleep. It’s true that the coffee is a”tool” for any freelancer but all these undoubtedly can’t replace the anatomical requirements. The efficiency really needs sacrifice and extra hours of hard work so any endeavor, based on a personal strategy which takes into account the qualities and defects of the individual, is beneficial. Anyone should understand that any advance should be done with small steps and with a lot of patience; working today 2 hours and tomorrow 15 isn’t by far a good solution. No matter of the field of activity, but think of you as a marathon runner; nobody starts running 42 km from the first experience but with intelligent methods of trainings, in addition to a steel will, everything will became possible.
6. Everything is in vain if you neglect your family and friends
Being a workaholic isn’t a quality, personally I believe it is a disease and it needs a remedy because this kind of behavior shouldn’t be tolerated. Everything can be bought these days besides family and real friends! Image Credits: Adam, Churl, Margolove, Sxc1, Sxc2, Sxc3, Sxc4