So you are wondering how to become more productive at your line of work. No matter what you do, if you are productive you get more things done, right. Okay we agree on that. That’s why we have put together this article, that will give you some productivity tips and solutions on how to do just that, get more things done. We will show you what can influence your productivity and what you can do to overcome these things. We have included everything, from music, daily tips and office designs that can help you to increase productivity. Check the table of contents and scroll to the part you are interested in.
Table of Contents:
- How to Become More Productive: 15 Easy to Follow Daily Tips
- Where are My Earphones? — The Music and Productivity Equation
- Officiating an Office: Tweaking Your Workplace Productivity
- 6 Places Where Freelancers Can Work Comfortably
- How To Manage Your Time Like A Pro: Tools For Web Designers
- Improve Productivity and Hack Your Life As A Web Designer
- Internet Is Down: What Will I do?
How to Become More Productive: 15 Easy to Follow Daily Tips
We all want to be productive, at least everyone who wants to become successful. For freelancers, productivity means money. The more efficient you do things, the richer you become.
For those who are employed with a company or institution, productivity means a lot too. If one gets too lazy at work, chances are, he might pack it the next day. What are some daily productivity tips you can perform to become more successful?
Have a 10-minute Break before Getting up from Bed
Okay, this may seem sketchy to you. But I totally recommend that you should have a 10-minute break before finally getting up from bed and start working. I have tried this and the results are good. Start your day by conditioning your mind. Ask yourself the following:
- Why do I need to perform better today? Remind yourself, why do I have to do this? Remember your inspiration, your dream, your motivating point to work. Think of these things and remind yourself that you have to get up for these people, these things, or these goals.
- What am I going to do for work today? Think of the pending projects you left hanging. Make a list in your mind about the objectives and things you need to meet today.
- What do I need to do first? Here, you apply the MIT rule. MIT means “Most Important Thing”. These are the things you need to get done first, and you prioritize them, especially if they have the closest deadline.
Of course, after this warm-up, you need to get up. Everything will just be some pile of batcrap if you just motivate yourself and not even get out of your bed. You have to wake up, get up to go up.
Block your time
Blocking your time means that you schedule a block of your time to finish a goal and do nothing else aside from it. That means you keep away from all the distractions. Close your tabs on emails, divert your calls and close 9gag and many other distractive websites.
What makes this activity different from scheduling your time is that you completely block your hour for one single activity only, one single specific activity.
For schedules, you just write, “10:00 — Meeting with Mr. John Doe.” But for blocking, you specify like, “10:00AM — discuss with Mr. John Doe the specifics of his content marketing plan, focusing on social media”.
Note the difference. When you block your time, you basically tell your future self that this is the only activity and topic you will do for a particular time.
In the example, you will only talk with Mr. John Doe, (and no one else but him) at 10:00AM, (No other time than that) about the specifics of his content marketing plan, focusing on social media (and no other topic other than that).
This way, you space out the unneeded actions and not waste time and motion.
Productive Superdad offers a method on time blocking called the Wednesday Method. Here are the steps:
- Decide about the date, time and location of accomplishing the project.
- Do other necessary arrangements BEFORE starting the project.
- Plan on how to execute it.
- If you need it, take a break.
Here are some other links you may want to read
- Effective Time Blocking Techniques To Boost Your Productivity
- Work Smart: Avoid Office Distractions with Time Blocking
Buy Some Apples and Bananas
Did you know that apples can wake you faster than coffee? Yes. You see, the apple contains fructose, a natural sugar that helps you wake up naturally and fuels you go get going. This is because fructose acts slowly than the regular table sugar. So instead of crashing, you’ll have a steadier stream of energy.
Read more about apples.
On the other hand, bananas give you energy. When you feel drained during work, eat a banana. According the the US Department of Agriculture, a large banana contains at least 12.23 grams of sugar, which fuels your brain, thus, giving you energy.
Even tennis players believe this to be true!
Follow the 30-10 rule
The 30-10 rule is what I follow, especially when writing. The core of the rule is simple. For every 30 minutes that you work, you allow yourself 10 minutes of rest. This is to keep your interest and drive to work sustained. If you work for 1 hour straight and without any breaks, you’ll probably have at least 30 minutes of un-motivated work. That means, you are basically wasting 30 minutes accomplishing a work that is sub-standard.
What I advise is take a 10-minute break to rest your eyes and mind. I warn you, don’t go browsing on websites that may hamper your productivity. Spend the 10 minutes you have looking at trees, or taking a short walk.
Here are some tools I use for this 30-10 rule. (I use Google Chrome extensions because I mainly work using the Google Chrome browser)
Keep Note of Your Time
In relation to the 30-10 rule, keeping note of your time is one of the things you should do to become productive now.
- Start recording the time you started and the time you finished.
- Determine the average time you spend for every project so that the next time you will have the a similar task, you will know how to manage your time.
One great tool that most freelancers use is Toggl, a simple and easy-to-understand time-tracking service. With this app, you indicate the task, start the timer to record your progress and stop it when you are done. You can even code things personally, like if you want to create charts. It comes with a free version, however, you need to pay $5 to get the full version. It runs on Apple, Android and Windows.
Take one job at a time. Never try to do two things at the same time. You will not only hamper your creativity and productivity, you also put your mind at risk.
In 2009,conducted a study that involved college students multitasking. They found out that frequent multitaskers were less productive and used their mind less effectively than those who didn’t. In fact, it was even scarier to know that even in single tasks, multitaskers tend to fall behind those who took it one at a time.
What’s the summary of this?
- Don’t take more than two tasks.
- Try to focus on one single item on the list and do nothing except that.
- You are writing? Don’t play games.
- You are designing a website? Don’t watch a movie while doing it.
Your mind is like a whole pie that produces amazing output. If you allow others the half of the pie, you will make a half-amazing output. And if you allow another person to take your half of what you have, you’ll make a quarter-amazing output until you realize that you have sunken into a slice of mediocrity because you let your mind be divided into tasks you shouldn’t really be doing.
So next time you have a pie, nay, a project, don’t let others take it away from you.
Schedule Allowance Time between Tasks
In the previous part of this post, I have noted that you should follow the 30-10 rule. But I have one more rule: it’s take-a-freaking-break rule.
The philosophy behind this one is simple. You need to refresh. After each project, I advise you take a 30-minute break and shake loose your system. Give your mind some time to move on because, unless you do, you will be stuck with dwelling on your previous project and you would never get anything done.
For your 30-minute break, you can:
- Take a nap
- Play games (all work and no play makes jack a dull boy!)
- Take a short walk
- Do some short exercise
- Look at the trees
Follow the Pareto Principle
The basic premise of the Pareto Principle lies around the 80-20 rule (we have a lot of rules that involve numbers, don’t we?)
According to the principle, 80% of the effects come from the 20% of the causes. That means 80% of your difficulties come from 20% of the things you don’t finish.
Understanding this will remind you to focus on the 20% that you don’t finish. You need to focus on what’s been causing you delays and improve them so that the percentage of you finishing all your tasks will increase.
The Pareto Principle should always remind you that you need to focus 80% of your time on the 20% of work you are having difficulties with. And that, my friend, is working smart.
So, for the projects you have now, think of how much effort you need to apply on the project and it will lead you to better work-priority.
Yes, playing safe is sometimes viewed as cowardly but it’s actually a wise way to be productive, especially with deadlines. You need to give yourself some allowance before setting a deadline. Say, your client asked you about when you could submit the finished product of your website. In your mind you think you can finish it before 5PM and you know you can. But you shouldn’t declare 5PM to your client. That is not playing safe. You say 7PM.
This way, you become more productive by saving yourself from future roadblocks. Within those two hours, you can review your codes, look for problems and have time to finish it. That way, you can finish the project without making your client pissed at you because you missed the deadline.
Playing safe is playing wise. ;)
Evaluate Your Day Before Going to Bed
After the day’s work, you need to assess yourself and gauge your productivity. Evaluation is important because you can see the things you can improve.
You can ask yourself the following:
- What did I do today?
- What strong points did I show today?
- What were my bad habits that hampered my performance?
- What can I do tomorrow to improve these?
But of course, while answering these, you need to follow a few guidelines:
- Be realistic
- Be specific
- Be honest
- Be clear
- Be constructive
To read more about the steps and guidelines, this SavvySugar presents this great post for you!
Solve Problems Using the Fishbone Method
The Fishbone Method is a great tool to analyze and troubleshoot your productivity problems. I have personally applied this method since college. It has been proven to be effective each time I need it.
So what is the Fishbone Method?
The Fishbone Method is a cause-and-effect analysis diagram that focuses on solving a specific problem rather than trying to patch up everything. A professor named Kaoru Ishikawa created this method that uses diagrams identifying cause and effect to discover the root of the problem, uncover bottlenecks in the process and identify which and why a part of the process is not working.
- You need to identify the problem. Write the exact difficulty you are facing. Write it in the center of the page and box it out. Example, your problem is “Employees not reporting on time”
- After that, you identify the factors that may contribute to this problem. List everything you can think of, even if it seems irrelevant to the solution of the problem.
- Draw a spine on the main problem and stem the factors out from it. For this example, we may define the problems as: “Location”, “Time of Reporting”, “Time of Dismissal”, “Salary”
- Next, you identify from each factor the causes of the problem. You need to identify why the particular factor affects the problem. Include at least two causes. For “Location” you may include “Traffic”, “Distance”and so on.
- Extend your fishbone by identifying the cause of the factor. You need to stem out at least two factors that can contribute to the causes you listed. From the cause “Traffic”, you may include “Bottlenecking at 1st Avenue during 9am”, or “Road widening projects”.
- Analyze. From the smallest bones, you try to analyze which really causes the problem and you address them. This way, you can focus your troubleshooting on the main problem.
Law of Attraction!
If you want positive things in your life, think positive.
How does that apply to productivity, you ask? Well, for starters, being positive about what you do makes you positive as well. To be productive, you need to feel good about working.
If you slouch and feel bad about what you do, chances are, you will just procrastinate. But if you love what you do, you will wake up the same time each day, do your job and be happy about it.
Now, I ask you, who is more productive? The one who sulked and did nothing? Or the one who was happy about doing something?
To fuel the motive and drive to be productive, you have to reward yourself at times. You need to give yourself something that you really want: a new shirt, a new phone, a back massage, or something for finishing a gruelling task. Rewarding yourself refreshes you and gives you additional motivation to focus and be even more productive!
For further reading:
- “Have a Little Treat”: The Importance of Rewarding Yourself
- Celebrate Your Success
Here’s a piece of warning. At one point in your quest to become productive, you will fail. Yes, it’s a bit harsh, but at some point, you will break these productivity habits I have told you to do. But that doesn’t mean you’ll stop.
Being productive isn’t a walk in the park, you have to keep trying and trying until you notice that you are becoming more productive. Before you know it, you are on top of your game!
The final tip is to START NOW. Don’t start later or tomorrow, start now! Think of this, people who start ahead of you will be more successful before you even take the first step.Do you want to be left out? No? Then start now. If you let another day pass doing nothing, you’re worse than that dying lady in the hospital bed. You need to act, react and proact.
These are some great tips. However some of us work better if we listen to music, so in the next section let’s see how can music help you become the most productive person.
Where are My Earphones? — The Music and Productivity Equation
Some people view music as something that increases their productivity and makes them work harder and better. You may be listening to the slow strums of Ottis Redding, maybe even threading the waves with Nada Surf but one thing is for sure: subtly, your music pushes you to move, which leads one to think about the correlation of music and productivity.
Music and Your Workplace
The research was used in order to gather market data and included small to medium enterprises in various industries.
It’s just correct to think that if you get motivated and pushed to sweat your ass of in aerobics, you will surely be motivated by music to do your job as well.
Surprisingly, though, Songza, a music service company, did another research in the US, asking which particular songs made the office staff productive. Half of the respondents said that they got into working when they heard Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger. Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know followed in a preference of 42 per cent.
However, in yet another study conducted in Taiwan, it was found out that while background music increased the productivity of the staff, music with lyrics often had negative effects. The researchers suggested that music without lyrics is preferable.
Why Does Music Affect Your Productivity?
Have you ever wondered why music affects you so much? How does it basically controls your emotions? Well, apparently, it all traces back to one word: arousal.
Yes, you get aroused when you listen to music because a region of your brains called the nucleus accumbens triggers the release of dopamine, otherwise known as the pleasure chemical.
Dopamine is the same chemical that’s released when we eat cheeseburgers, get a follower on Twitter and, most of all, when we have sex.
It really is safe to say that music can give you actual eargasms.
This may be why we get more productive when we listen to music. Basically, music makes us feel good, physically, emotionally and mentally. It makes us relaxed and thus affecting our productivity.
What Genre of Music Is Suited to Boost Your Productivity?
Now, while there were contradicting statements in the field of research about what particular music genre really boosts productivity, there is a sound argument (pun intended) that says classical music is the best genre to listen to.
This involves the Mozart Effect, which says that listening to classical music such as the works of Amadeus Wolfgang Mozart’s directly correlates with a person’s ability to think long-term and create solutions to problems.
Workplace Experts Have Some Say on This.
In astudy, researchers discovered the music increases output by 6.3%, notwithstanding any work or job. This is contradicted by which involves 56 employees working on basic computer tasks being more productive without music.
To answer the question about the genre, it would be safe to say that “It depends.” Somehow, it differs from person to person and there are a lot of factors to be considered:
- Your attention span
- How you control your concentration on music
- How your workplace is situated
While we’re still on the subject of sound and its correlation to productivity, I am bringing this topic up.
Have you ever wondered why you seem to work better in coffee shops? Research shows it’s difficult to work in a deafening level of silence. Common office chatter can be pretty devastating to.
What’s the lukewarm of noises?
It’s the regular coffee shop hum, or the campus chatter. This particular brand of noise sits just in the middle of silence and loudness. That means it’s not too silent for you to hear your own heartbeat and not too noisy to get too fed up with listening and stop being productive either.
So why are you productive at the lukewarm of noises?
- You are in an ideal situation to concentrate on your job and have a small opening for conversation and foot traffic to give you some breathing room.
- Web design can take a lot of time. Coffee shops provide you the space where you can sit and work with full concentration for hours. Yet, it gives you a sense of urgency because you are in a very tight deadline and the coffee shop has to close.
- You feel working out of your workplace. Sometimes, your workplace gives you so much burden in your shoulders that often results into multitasking. But, in a coffee shop, you’ll feel casual, like you’re taking a long lunch or something.
…when we are alone in a public place, we have a fear of “having no purpose”. If we are in a public place and it looks like that we have no business there, it may not seem socially appropriate. In coffee-shops it is okay to be there to drink coffee but loitering is definitely not allowed by coffee-shop owners, so coffee-shops patrons deploy different methods to look “busy”. Being disengaged is our big social fear, especially in public spaces, and people try to cover their “being there” with an acceptable visible activity.
You want to simulate working on a coffee shop? Try Coffitivity.
Truly, noise and music can improve your productivity. Science agrees with that. But, often, it’s still a case-to-case basis. Some designers want to work in absolute silence; some can work even in concerts. Every person has a unique time, place or situation to enter into the creative zone and go extract some creative juices. I guess you have to discover that for yourself. All these are just guides, just to let you know that listening to music MIGHT be productive. Or it might not be.
Now let’s have a look at workplace productivity and why it is important to have suitable office space, especially for designers and developers.
Officiating an Office: Tweaking Your Workplace Productivity
The Merriam Webster definition says it all: A workplace is basically the spot where you do your ‘thing’. This only means that a workplace is the magical place where you do your stuff. In this area, you enter into the zone, be productive, creative, technical and well, uh… a little less distracted. Of course, a workplace won’t be a workplace if you will play around and be lazy (might as well call it laze-place). How can you improve workplace productivity?
Workplace \work●place\ noun : a place where work is done.
Why It Is Important for Designers and Developers to Have a Suitable Workplace:
- To stimulate the mind, extract those creative juices and flex those intellectual muscles which are in hibernation
- To direct the activity towards the completion of a goal.
- To condition the mind
The workplace is your ‘spot’, ‘zone’ or, as many corporate entities agree, your ‘office’.
Having said that, you might be under the impression that you should get your own office right now. You might even rush out and not even finish reading this because you’re too excited to start working on your own office. But don’t jump in the jetpack yet. You need to know some things first:
Before even thinking of the set-up, you have to consider where will you put it. Here are some things you should think of
- Where will my office be located?
- How many are we?
Remember, the formula is simple, the more the employees, the more the space.
Here are some pointers:
- Find your unique spot.
- Establish an office that is close to your business partners
- Make it accessible.
- Look for some place where you can focus.
As long as the location can tickle your brains in order to make you more productive, it does not matter if you prefer the quiet, secluded or the noisy location. Just find a good space where you can roost. Now if you really can’t afford that, you could always rent a small space in the city. But if you’re really short of bucks, you could re-use the unused spaces in your homes.
- Have guest rooms where no one ever slept? Convert it to an office.
- Have some vacant attic? Convert in to an office.
- A shabby basement? You see the pattern right here right? Yes, convert it to an office!
With some wall spacing, a few reconstructions and sheer creativity, you could transform those ghastly places into lively workplaces!
Now, say you had acquired a space, what will you fill it with? Interiors are important. It’s the literal taking of what’s important is what’s inside. You need to ensure that the interiors of your office would suit your needs and stimulate productivity.
Interiors affect you, really! Here are some reasons:
- Having a poorly designed interior makes you more stressed with work
- Closed spaces usually make a person confused, making him unable to work
- No one wants to visit an office that looks like a pot den!
Choose your colors wisely. Remember what they always say in designing? Colors can make or break a design. It applies, even to your office!
- Most offices add some greenery because it relaxes the eyes and makes you calmer at work.
- Others also mix them with white paint which will enforce cleanliness. It suggests elegance.
- Black is also used to imply luxury and authority.
- Blue (which according to studies, is the brightest color) should be used in moderation.
Learn to mix colors and make yourself your own rainbow.
Next thing you should consider is lighting. Dim lights should be facilitated with bright lights properly.
Why Lighting is Important
- Dimmer lights make you work better but it also makes your body excrete more melatonin (sleep hormone), the invisible draught of drowse.
- Brighter colors makes you more energetic, but can be glaring.
So, when setting your office up, remember that just enough is just enough. What does that mean? Just enough lighting is just enough for your employers.
And most of all, remember that all designs should aim one thing: increasing the productivity. It should foster to the needs of every individual to the point that they’ll love working. Your workplace should be tailored to your craft and each employee’s personality. They should like the office and then they’ll love the work.
Let’s face it, this is the most important aspect of the office: people. If the people in an office are like robots who just work and work and work all day, it will drive an average employer nuts. Having some breathing room will make employees feel relaxed and gives them more focus. Let your employees do this one for you, but you have to facilitate.
Why is ambiance important?
- It’s what motivates people to working well
- It’s what makes people stay
- It can be good for the company image, especially when clients visit.
- One thing you can do is to let your workers have liberty with their own space.
- Allow them to put pictures, paintings, stickers, and even pets in their own spaces. This will somehow inspire them or alleviate them from stress. It will brighten the day, make your team be themselves and let them interact with each other.
- You could also put up games every now and then. Spice up each day with some office surprise. This way, you could be able to balance work and play.
All work and no play makes jack a dull boy
- Put out parties, birthday surprises, promotion parties and a lot of cool tricks to make your employees happy. Put in mind that the happier your team is, the better the work they’ll perform.
- Lastly, you could add pantries, sleeping pods, game centers and interaction sections in your office. This way, everybody becomes at home, thus, relaxing those tired brains off.
Now after taking notes on this, you probably might want to see some inspiration, right? Good thing, I have some for you. Here they are:
Selgas Cano – Madrid
This office is superb because it makes the employees close to nature. Greenery, check. Ambiance, check! Lighting, oh yes, check!
Facebook – Palo Alto, California
What’s so good about the Facebook office? Well, aside from this spacey and well-lighted facility, Facebook’s office has a giant bistro, free food and artwork almost everywhere!
Dtac Headquarters – Bangkok
Dtac’s headquarters seems really cozy. Well, it’s probably because they used a dim-looking set up in their lighting making sure that employees feel relaxed while working. It’s like working in a coffee shop!
Buck O’Neill Builders – San Francisco
This office is cool with the eyes because it used the liveliness of greenery and the immaculate-look of white. Working in this office would make you feel quiet at peace and never worrying about anything.
Urban Outfitters – Philadelphia
Talk about greenery! This place utilized the cool soothing effect of plants and the cozy feel of warm yellow lights. It’s like a coffee shop in a garden or in an office.
BBC North – Manchester
This office set up managed to pull off the techy feel of silver and white, plus the earthy motif of green. At one glance, you will know that this office makes you want to stay all night and just work.
Corus Entertainment — Toronto
The spacious ceilings and the plant-laden walls of this office will surely make you want to stay. And what makes it more exciting? Well, I’ll tell you: It’s the slide!
Googleplex — California
You have probably had a sneak peak at the Google HQ at California through the movie The Internship. And if you did not feel awesome seeing it, with the free food, the cool bikes and sleeping pods, then you are a grumpy old cat mister!
Stimulating your mind towards working is a good step in improving your productivity. But there are a lot of concerns that you still need to address. Building a good workplace is momentous because you start to recognize yourself as an entity in the workforce. You can even say to yourself that you are good enough to deserve an office. This would also improve your morale and would make you a better designer. Remember, creativity is not found. It’s dug up. And if one wants to dig, one needs a shovel.
Let your office be that shovel.
Now let’s see what can freelancers do, or better where can they comfortably work to boost productivity.
6 Places Where Freelancers Can Work Comfortably
Freelancing is now becoming popular as a source of income for many people. There are a lot of reasons why many are attracted to this kind of work. One reason that I find very attractive is I can work anywhere I want! The way you work affects the quality of your output, and your workplace affects how you work. Therefore, you should choose a good place to work from. You need to find a place that will give you comfort while working and where you won’t easily get distracted. I will be giving you a list of places where you can work comfortably. Have fun reading!
Rent an Office
A great place where you can focus solely on your work is at an office. The ambiance makes you want to work, and you can really focus on completing tasks. Renting an office may be an option for freelancers who have a steady source of income. Since you need to pay the rent, the electric and internet bills, you may ask your friends who also work as freelancers to share the space and cost with you. Having someone around when you’re working also gives you a chance to socialize.
- Office is a great place where your focus will only be on your work.
- There are fewer distractions and more productive hours for you.
- Working in an office teaches you to be disciplined to get up early, stay on schedule and go at work.
- You are required to pay the bills like the rent and utilities.
- You need to buy things for your office set-up such as cabinets, tables and chairs.
- You need to travel from your home to the office.
Many freelancers work at home. One thing I like about working at home is that I feel at home. There are a lot of locations in a house where you can do your work.
Working In The Bedroom
I work in my bedroom. What I like about working in my room is that I can do everything I want without disturbing my family and I can lock myself in the room so I won’t get disturbed. Any time that I need time to think for a certain task, I can just walk around my room while thinking.
- You can focus yourself on what you do. In my case, I lock the door so I’m not disturbed.
- You feel free to work since you are in your own comfort zone.
- Every tool you need such as your printer, storage devices, notebooks and pens, etc. are handy.
- There’s no need for you to travel.
- When you want to eat, you can just go to your kitchen. Unlike in an office, where you may be inclined to eat out more frequently instead of packing a lunch.
- Sometimes, seeing a bed makes you want to lie down and just ‘catch a quick nap.’
- If there’s a TV in your room, it can be a major distraction as you may be tempted to watch your favorite TV show.
Working From Your Living Room
When I feel that my room feels stale or stuffy and I need a bit more space, I work in our living room. So, what are the advantages and downsides of working in a living room?
- When you get bored, your family members can help you feel energized.
- When you see your family, you’ll be inspired and motivated to work hard.
- Sitting on a couch with your laptop is actually pretty comfortable.
- Your family may be a big distraction. They may feel like chatting with you or asking for your help around the house
- TV and other entertainment can be a distraction.
Working In Your Dining Room
Do you eat while working? You may just want to work in your dining room then. When I feel my body craves for food, I just use a laptop and place it on our dining table.
- It’s easy for you to set up your workspace there.
- Eating while working is good, but do not eat too much.
- Family members usually only stay at the table long enough for a quick bite to eat.
- If you tend to be careless, you can spill your food or drink all over your computer.
- When you are in a dining room, you tend to eat a lot. When your body feels heavy, you will also feel sleepy.
- There can be distractions such as smells from the kitchen or other external factors.
Working From Library
When we were in college, we used to stay in our school’s library. The ambiance is good and most importantly, it’s very quiet.
- The surrounding is peaceful and silent. You can work on your tasks properly.
- If you cannot find a reference on the web, there are a lot of books that you can use there.
- You do not need to pay to get inside and use their facilities.
- If you yell at your monitor when upset, you risk getting kicked out.
- Most libraries forbid people from bringing food inside to maintain the cleanliness of the place.
- Sometimes you feel bored because of the silence that fills the place.
In many places, public libraries have wi-fi. So, all you need to bring is your laptop and other personal belongings. Also, do not forget to bring an ID. Most libraries require people to surrender their IDs for identification purposes.
Working At Coffee Shops
I remember from another freelancing job, my friends and I used to work at least twice a month in a coffee shop. This gives us different ambiance and since we love frappes and lattes, we enjoy working there.
- I enjoy working in a coffee shop, because of the energizing ambiance it brings.
- You can socialize with other people and you might meet other freelancers.
- The different people, and the art that most coffee shops display can be inspiring.
- You need to spend money, coffee shops won’t let you sit in their coffee shop all day with the same cup of coffee.
- There are times that their wi-fi connection is down.
- It can get noisy and distracting during different periods of the day. You may need to bring headphones to help block out the noises.
Factors To Consider When Choosing a Workplace
In choosing a place to work, you should consider the following factors:
- The setup of your workplace should give you the motivation to work and be productive each day.
- Make sure that your choice of workplace has all the tools you need to work, especially the internet connection.
- Cleanliness. Be sure to work in a place that’s clean.If you’re working at home, clean up before starting work.
- You should feel relaxed and comfortable where you at. If you’re comfortable, you’re likely to not get distracted as easily.
Say no to distractions. A distraction can be the weather, a noise, a person or an emotion. There are many suggested ways to avoid distractions, but for me there are only two things necessary to avoid distractions: focus and discipline.
- Think of your goals each day and focus on them.
- Think of your inspiration and be motivated by it.
- Aim to be better today than yesterday.
Expenses should also be considered. Working in a coffee shop or in a restaurant everyday is too expensive. Be practical. If you are earning good money, you can just rent an office and share it with other freelancers. If you think you can just work at home, do that. There’s no better place to stay than at your own home. Before I end this article, I have collected pictures of the workplaces of some of the people behind 1stwebdesigner. Take a look below.
This is my workplace which is located inside my room. I have my PC, my notebook and my planner, a glass of water and a juice drink. I did the setup on where I find myself comfortable moving and working.
This is Rean’s workplace, he is a writer and editor at 1stwebdesigner. You will see his moleskine, his favorite pen, his laptop, a coffee and the BunnyPeople of Intel atop his books. Very clean and everything that he needs is readily on his table. (Rean’s note: pink walls help me concentrate, swear!)
This is Saad’s workplace, he is our main editor. In his workplace, you will see two monitors, a book, and a router behind the monitor. It’s very clean! One thing you need to make sure is your workplace is clean. Whenever I find my workplace messy, I ended up cleaning it and the rest of my room instead of working. So before doing your tasks, make sure your surroundings are clean and organized. This applies mostly to freelancers who work at home.
This is the office of our CEO. You will find here a Mac book, computers, a calendar, moleskine and other things he and his co-workers need. Your workplace must have a good lighting like this, it gives a comfortable working atmosphere. This kind of office setup where people are near each other is also good. This way, they can communicate well with each other.
How about you? Where do you work most of the time? What made you decide to work there? Share your insights! You can also show us a picture of your workplace
If you want to improve your productivity you have to have a good management of your time. And that’s exactly what we will be covering in the next section.
How To Manage Your Time Like A Pro: Tools For Web Designers
One of the most common struggles not only of web designers, but also of freelance professionals, is time management. This becomes even more complicated and difficult when you are working with a team. How do you manage all these projects along with communicating with your clients and teammates?
Before we tackle some of the most helpful productivity tools, let’s get some espresso down our throats and take a dive into our topic.
As the workplace becomes more unconventional because of the new developments in technology, freelancers and web design professionals have more opportunities to find work from anywhere in the world as well as flexible working hours. While this gives you more time to pursue things other than work, it has also become a scourge for time management. Suddenly, a lot of web design professionals have difficulty handling the new freedom of not having a boss and the flexibility of time. Therefore, stress isn’t eliminated because the same problems and new ones arise.
Helpful Productivity Tools for Web Designers
As a web design professional, you don’t have to undergo such torture and stress when there are apps and tools which can help you become more productive and more efficient. Here, we have gathered some of the best around the web and you can choose one or more to implement in your practice.
This is a rapid wire framing tool which lets you to create mock-ups allowing you to remove which are unnecessary and bad in your design.
Similar to Balsamiq, Marvel allows you to create web and mobile prototypes without having to code.
Usersnap is a visual bug tracker which does not only track bugs, but also tests your browser and allows you to collaborate with clients and colleagues.
Concept inbox allows visual collaboration among creatives and their clients. You can track your changes and prototypes as well as discuss designs using this tool.
Proto.io lets you create high fidelity prototypes that are fully interactive. Like Marvel, you don’t have to code to use this.
Framebench allows remote teams to collaborate, communicate, and give feedback in real time.
Prevue allows designers to easily share their designs with their clients.
TrackDuck is a feedback app which allows you to receive feedback from your clients easily.
UsersThink is a great tool to get feedback from real users. Most of all, it allows you how to have higher conversions on your landing pages.
It’s a collaboration app which allows you and your team manage and track projects and deadlines.
uiFaces allows you to search and generate sample avatars for user interfaces.
This is the tool if you are looking for random things, places, and names.
Let’s now talk a bit more about the productivity of web designers as a creatives that absolutely need to be productive at their work.
Improve Productivity and Hack Your Life As A Web Designer
You just have to admit it – that web designers, being creative people, are prone to distractions. Besides, science tells us that our brains only takes some number of minutes to actually focus.
It’s not okay to be distracted, but it’s okay to take a break. It’s foolish to drive yourself to death, but it’s wise to have or create a realistic time management. You don’t over-think as it will drive you to madness.
If you’re a super busy creative who has a tendency to get distracted or have difficulty making most of your time productive, we are more than happy to share some life hacks in this #EspressoMonday episode. So grab your cup of java and begin to spread the Monday happiness.
Everybody, no matter which industry they are in, aims for a high rate of productivity. Web designers are no different. However, we cannot escape the fact that we are affected by external forces, two of the most common are a poorly set up work space and the changing demands of your clients. While you cannot control the latter, you can do something with the first challenge and improve your workflow to free more of your time and earn more in a fast and efficient way.
10 Effective Life Hacks to Improve Your Productivity
Here are the 10 tips we prepared to help you improve your productivity.
1. How to Focus
Our brain can only focus for 90 minutes – that’s a fact. Try going beyond that and you will see that your brain automatically shifts its attention to something other than what you are doing. That’s because your brain can only take as much. So our suggestion is take a break every 90 minutes (we recommend every 60 minutes) to keep your focus as well as your energy higher than working straight through a project. A 15-minute break every 60 or 90 minutes will do wonders to your productivity. And when you take a break, get your eyes off the screen.
Another method is the Pomodoro, a time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo, where you buy a little timer to break down your work into 25 minutes and have a 5-minute break in between. Again, when you take a break, you have to take your eyes off your computer screen.
2. Realistic Time Management
Every plan always has a contingency plan so that you have a back up just in case something unplanned or unpredictable happens. The same goes true with time management. When you’re plotting your time, you have to put at least 15 percent of contingency time because you do not know what will happen – it could be human error or it could be loss of data. No matter what it is, you will have more edge if you anticipate such things and have an alternate plan or extra time to keep you out of panic mode.
3. Don’t Over Think
This also means don’t over-design nor over-code. As web designers, we have the tendency to make everything excellent (to the point of perfection) just to satisfy our clients. However, you should not forget to balance things. Even if you have great design skills, your goal is to make the design simple, clean, and efficient. It doesn’t mean that you have to under-deliver but rather, don’t spend too much time on something when there is a better way of doing things more quickly and efficiently.
4. Dealing with Tasks
This comes from David Allen’s 2-minute rule of how to kill your tasks immediately. The principle is rather simple – you list your tasks for the day and when some tasks come up during the day, you ask yourself if it can be done in 2 minutes. If it’s longer than 2 minutes, add it to your to-do list but if it is doable in 2 minutes, like replying to an email, kill it immediately by doing it.
5. Feel Your Goals and Tasks
This tip comes from my partner, Dainis Graversi, who said that when it comes to tangible, physical tasks and goals, you need to “feel” them. As a team, we use project management tools, such as Basecamp and Asana, but he also likes to write these tasks and goals on the white board. Once it’s done, he finds the ultimate satisfaction of crossing finished tasks off the board. He describes his feeling as orgasmic happiness or much better than that. So if you can physically remove or erase, or tick off finished tasks one by one from your board, do it and savor the feeling of being able to do it.
6. Automize and Systemize
This goes for the itty-bitty tasks you have, such as answering similar email. For example, I receive emails inquiring about guest posts. My answer is basically the same so what I did is I made a canned answer for such emails and copy-paste it. Saves a lot of precious minutes. On the other hand, if they are bigger tasks, you might consider delegating, outsourcing, or whatever system you have to make the task easier to do and faster to accomplish.
7.Share the Monday Happiness
Most, if not all, people simply hate Mondays. Why not? Just imagine you had a great weekend with family and friends enjoying and relaxing then Monday comes and BAM, you’re hit with the reality. The transition is so harsh – from relaxation and rest to a desk piling up with tasks and responsibilities. You don’t have to hate Mondays. In fact, your weekend can help you become excited with Mondays.
Before going to sleep on Sunday night, set aside at least 5 minutes of your time to have a sneak peak of what you’re going to expect or do on Monday. Look at your emails or your checklist to see what upcoming tasks you have the next day, this way you can condition your mind even before Monday comes.
In addition, there’s our #EspressoMonday episodes you can always look forward to.
Research have revealed that ambient coffee shop sounds can boost your creativity. We don’t really know how it works but science says that the sounds of people and other things going on in a coffee shop boosts your productivity. I’ve tried it and it works like a charm. There’s a website (they also have an app) where you can get these sounds. Try it and compare how it works for you.
9.Shrink Your Goals
This means that instead of setting a one-year goal, only create a 90-day goal. This is in fact logical because a lot of thing can happen in a year. Of course there are quarterly goals to evaluate these yearly goals but a 90-day goal is more feasible because it is neither too long nor too short. Moreover, you can change or adjust them after 90 days.
Again, this tip comes from Dainis who recommends that you get an accountability buddy to help you push yourself. It should be someone you trust and someone you resonate with. Have weekly Skype calls (if they are from another city or country) or meetings with them and discuss what you plan to do next week and vice versa. Then, you meet again after a week and discuss/evaluate whether you were able to do what you said you’re going to do. You also talk about the problems and challenges you encounter as well as give encouragement and insights to each other.
We will end this article with some productivity tips on how to be productive when the internet goes down.
Internet Is Down: What Will I do?
I know nothing can really be as infuriating than a down Internet connection. As a web designer, this is very frustrating because most of your tasks are online and you will not get anything done until the connection goes back. Most of the times, you’ll be pictured as the person who observes his router like a hunter observing a gazelle. Sometimes, you are seen pressing F5 every single minute, hoping it would soon load properly. Other times, you try and debate with your ISP over the phone and realize that there is no hope. Heck, you even plan on making rituals for the Internet gods to bring your connection back.
The again, there are other cooler things to do than brood and wait for your faulty connection to get back. I bet they are as cool and productive as they will ever be.
Read a Book
A book is probably your best companion at these times. Reading a book when the Internet is practically non-existent reduces your stress and makes you calm and be in a better mood.
In 2009, the University of Sussex published a study that said reading a book for only six minutes can reduce your stress levels by 68%.
This perfectly suits your situation. You are in a Godzilla-sized type of bad mood, and you need to calm down. Pick up a book and make yourself lost in the ideas and imagination of the author.
Who knows, it might even give you great ideas that you can somehow translate into web pages.
Here are a few books that I recommend you to read. These can be one-sitting books you can finish within a span of hours. Just enough time for the connection to stabilize, I hope:
Review Your Tasks
Because of a down Internet, you now have plenty of time to assess how your tasks are going. Do you have plenty of delays? Are you focusing on the wrong projects at the wrong time?
All of your time-planning loopholes you never bothered addressing can now be solved. Take the time when the Internet is not working properly to look at your tasks:
Where are my tasks?
It’s time to put everything in one place. Your tasks might be all over your house. Either you create a document, or write it on a piece of paper, your tasks should be located in only one place. When you’ll look for something important, you won’t go scrambling over a huge pile of paper for that task list.
Are my tasks actionable?
The faulty Internet connection may give you time to ask this. Are my tasks actionable? Are they realistic?
It’s now time to look at your task list and assess. If you have written “Web Design for Client A”, then you might want to rename that.
- Create task lists that are easy to understand.
- Use specific words. Instead of “Web Design for Client A,” try making it more comprehensible, try using “Create a Responsive ECommerce Website for Client A.”
- Add a short description after the title.
Are my tasks singular?
Do you have tasks that are like “Do this and do that?” Well, if you have, you need to break those down right now. One moment at a time, bro. You only have two hands and one mind.
Take this time to re-prioritize your tasks. Which really needs attending? Which ones should you finish first? You need to look at these quickly because you may be focusing on the wrong project.
Clean Your Workplace
As you know, productivity can be linked towards a lot of factors and cleanliness is one of them. Although I don’t agree that an organized workplace is always conducive for productivity, I support that having a clean office, at the very least, helps.
Cleaning your workplace can reflect your image as freelancer. Imagine if a client decides to pay your home a visit to actually check your performance (I mean, yes, it’s not conventional for that to happen, but heck, what if?)? As he enters your workplace, he sniffs and smells something like a drawer full of dead socks.
Do you think that would reflect good on your business?
No, right? So go on,clean your workplace now.
‘Go Out’ and Talk to Your Neighbors
I know freelance web design can be pretty debilitating on your social life. Because you often stay at home, messing with codes or grids, you miss a lot of social neighbor-y stuff. Take some time to go out right now and try to talk to your neighbors.
Now that your Internet is not working, you’ll have no excuses for avoiding to strike a conversation with your neighbor. Would you want to rot inside your comfy little home without anybody acknowledging your existence? Or be welcomed by the warmth of other people’s embraces.
You may not notice but talking to your neighbors might be a good way to let time pass. Who knows, they might even ask you for barbecues and dinners.
When was the last time you had physical exercise?
This might be the right time to start taking care of your body. A few minutes of faulty Internet connection can give you enough time to stretch and be fit. Here are a few things you could try out:
Walking is one of the best exercises. On average, a person burns around 100 calories per mile, just from walking. Imagine how many calories you’ll burn for this simple activity. However, if you start it today, when your Internet is not working, you should do it consistently, at least five days a week.
If you’re too lazy to go outside, try stretching. This is a great exercise because you can do it more often than running. You can even do it multiple times within the day. Doing stretches can help you avoid problems with posture, improve blood circulation and relax tense muscles.
Re-organize Your Files
Having no Internet connection can also give you some extra time to reorganize your files. Having organized files saves you from looking and scrambling around for your old documents in case you need them.
Yes, you can just search what you are looking for. But if you begin to organize your files, you will see that when you are looking for a something in your computer, some related files also show up.
Here are a few tips I can recommend:
- Have a separate partition for your files
- Organize files on a specific category (Either by project, by genre, by amount paid or basically any category you would easily follow).
- Change folder icons for easy labeling
- Create a hierarchy or system of organization and stick with it
- Rename files and folders intelligently. No more asdfakjfaijfiergjia.docx.
- Use shortcuts.
Here are a few more tips:
Listen to Music
Music has a capability to sooth our mind. Psychologically speaking, music has a distinct link to our emotions and that makes it a very potent stress management tools. When you listen to music, your mind and body relax. Your pulse rate is slowing, your blood pressure lowering and your stress hormones decreasing.
Listening to music can be a very good way to relax. Take deep breaths and remember that things are okay.
Some people may see this as an utter waste of precious time but truth is, listening to music can decrease your stress and increase your productivity.
Meditation is also one of the things that can get you calmed down after you almost threw tantrums over the CSR of your provider. As a designer and a professional, having a clean and worry-free mind can rapidly increase your creativity.
This only means that your mind is directed to only one thing: your work. For that, you need to stop worrying about something else.
Learn to practice the art of meditation. Relax, breathe, empty your mind.
This is probably the best thing to do- take a rest. Reserve all your energy for the real actual work when your connection goes back. It’s better to rest now and focus on your task later than to mope around and get no rest at all.
Just go into a quiet space, (your room perhaps) and close your eyes. Slowly, you’ll never know that you are falling asleep.
After you wake up, you now feel refreshed. The Internet is back and you’re ready for action.
There you have it. For every possible situation or distraction there is a solution, that will boost your productivity and help you get your work done. All you need is, to find what works best for you. We have tried to provide you with the best possible tips and hacks for higher productivity when working. A lot of these tips can help anyone, not just creatives. What do you do to be more productive, did we miss anything? Please share in the comment sections.