Get Me to the Bus on Time: 5+ Productivity Tips for Freelancers

Productivity is a favorite topic of mine.

If I have a reputation for anything, it’s this… I get stuff done.

As you may know, I have 5 children (3 teens, a pre-teen, and a first grader)… and I’m the primary care giver, so productivity is numero uno around my house.

At 3:25pm every day, I show up at the bus stop, a smile on my face, fully prepared to shout “woo-hoo!” as the conquering champions descend from the hulking yellow school bus.

There are no exceptions allowed.

No grumpy mommy. No scowling face. And lord help me if I forget to shout, “woo-hoo”… it’s just not allowed.

(Important side note… and the key to this whole system… is here: There are only 3 requirements to making my 3:25pm date successful. 1) I show up; 2) I smile; 3) I shout. Everything else is unnecessary. Unnecessary things include: combing my hair, wearing something other than jammies, getting all my work done, eating lunch, etc, etc. Key learning: The stuff you don’t do is just as important (or more important) than the stuff you actually do.)

Here’s 5 things I do to make sure I make it to the bus on time:

1- Organization: I use reward stickers, highlighters, craft paint, journals, and anything else that makes me smile to keep my tasks organized and my mind clear. Truth: Everyone has an inner 6-year-old who likes to plays games (and probably loves stickers). Key learning: Make your life a game and you’ll get more done.

2- Managing Expectations: This might be the most important item on this list. Key learning: Tell people what they can expect from you and don’t over promise. This could be written as “Use your words. Be kind to yourself.” (At least that’s the way I teach it to my kids. It seems to help.)

3- Time Management: I work on a timer. 45 minutes on, 15 minutes off. All day. No breaks. No quitting. Gobs and gobs of juicy, delicious complaining. Hyperbole encouraged. (That’s what makes this strategy funny. And I dig funny.) Key learning: Funny makes the day go faster, and you get more done.

4- Leverage: I always work on the highest leverage tasks first. (Remember, because of the kids, there is a risk that the first task I do today might be the ONLY thing I do today. It has to matter.) How do I choose my leverage point? I ask: Will this task set up the next 2 tasks to practically complete themselves? This doesn’t always mean money. Sometimes the “One-thing” task is just getting dinner in the crock pot. Why? Because a crock pot dinner started at 10am means I get to eat WITH the kids at 6pm. How cute is that?! Key learning: Look for the “difference that makes a difference”. Do that task first. Some people say sh*t rolls downhill, but what if success could be leveraged the same way?

5- Creativity: The myth of creativity is that unlimited “coloring crayons” are required to make beautiful art. But the truth is this: If you have a box of 64 crayons and make me a pretty picture, that’s good. But if you’re only given one stubby blue crayon and THEN you draw me a fridge-worthy masterpiece, you’re a genius. Key learning: Creativity (and productivity) thrive under rules, even arbitrary rules. Tip: Look at the limitations of your work day and ask… What if these weren’t really limits; what if they were the keys to your success?

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