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Freelancer's 5 Biggest Time Killers - And How to Overcome Them

Today, we have a special treat for you – we’ve just received the results from our survey on the biggest time-killers for freelancers. We’re proud to say that we had 720 participants worldwide, all experienced freelancers who shared what they feel like is wasting their time. In addition to the list, we’ve also thought about solutions.

So here are the biggest time-killers and our tips to solve them:

1. Lack of information (32%)

A third of the responders indicated that what wastes their time most is lack of information.

Knowledge is gold, we all know that. Thankfully, it has never been easier to search for information than it is today. But that raises a big question: where do you look? Depending on what info you’re looking for, there are a couple of solutions here: If you want to know anything about freelancing, from SEO and marketing to new niches and ways to find the best clients, blogs like our own are invaluable.

If you’re looking for general information, for example on certain products, you can hit up social media. I personally love Reddit for finding specialized information from communities who really know what they’re talking about – the same can be said for Quora.

2. Social networking (14%)

Establishing a network, whether on- or offline, can be a huge time-eater. How do you avoid that? The best advice here is to definitely have realistic and measurable goals and specific times where you go for those goals.

Here’s a simple example – you want to get 1000 likes on your Facebook page or a number of retweets. To do that, you’ve decided to post two to three times a week, which might take up about four hours of your time. Decide when those four hours are going to be put in and go for it. As long as you have a clear goal in mind, networking won’t be a time-waster.

3. Internet Surfing (12%)

Almost a hundred people said they were hindered in their job due to internet surfing. That’s a huge problem not just for freelancers, but for anyone who is looking to be productive at work.

To keep distractions under control, take regular breaks. It might sound counterintuitive but surfing on the internet means you’re either tired or bored with your work. Get up and walk around, drink a coffee, get some fresh air. This will not only make you happier, but will also increase your energy levels in a way that no amount of surfing the web can.

Also, do not hesitate to help yourself with the multiple apps available to manage your productivity as a freelancer – many of them are free to use and can make wonders.

4. Client Meetings (10%), Emails (9%) and Cellphone Use (4%)

Whether it is meetings, emails or cellphone, almost a quarter of the participants in the survey are struggling with business communication and feel like it’s wasting their time. And there are two ways to combat this – one is the medium way, the other is the radical way.

We recently talked about those strategies while reviewing Cal Newport’s book Deep Work. That’s basically a method for turning off distractions and working in an extremely focused state. Newport suggests several methods for dealing with those pesky notifications and calls:

The radical, monastery approach

This includes detaching yourself from all distractions, completely. A day or even a week off without a cellphone, email and social media can be very productive, but not necessarily realistic for a lot of freelancers.

The lighter, bi-modal approach

Again, this method is all about turning off everything, but just for a few hours a day. An easy way to accomplish this is by setting physical boundaries, like going to the library. When you change a location with the sole intention to work there and not be distracted by anything, your brain will learn and switch to a different state every time you go to that location.

5. Lack of sleep (6%)

Last but not least, we have the classical work-life balance problem. 41 respondents complained that they are suffering from a lack of sleep. And that is getting to be a serious problem in the western society, more so than we realize. A good night’s sleep is one of the most vital parts of the day for everyone, both for your mental and physical health.

How do you get a healthy sleep? Physical activity is one of the best ways. If you do exercise or go for a run throughout the day, you’ll be more tired and fall asleep more easily. Additionally, really consider leaving your smartphone and your tablet out of the bedroom. Bright screens are one of the biggest enemies of sleep.

Do you have similar problems? Leave us a comment in the section below this article to let us know how you feel about the survey results and our suggested solutions.
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