Freelancer Tips for Staying Healthy and Productive

Freelancer Tips for Staying Healthy and Productive

Freelancing has been steadily on the rise and it’s not hard to understand why. The ability to set your own schedule and take back control over your own time is reason enough for many to consider freelancing as a side hustle or a viable full-time career.

The rise in independent work has accelerated in recent weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic kicked off the grandest experiment in remote work the world has ever seen. Whether you’re just getting started as a freelancer for the first time or are a seasoned pro, new challenges have emerged as people manage their professional and personal lives during these uncertain times.

To help navigate through these uncharted waters, we solicited tips from top freelancers on how to stay motivated, productive and mentally healthy while working from home. Here’s what they had to say.

1. How do you start your day off on the right track?

“I make sure that my day starts right by:

1. Eating Right. You cannot perform well if your body (and brain) is deprived of the nutrients and energy it needs. A healthy breakfast with a cup of coffee will do the trick.

2. Setting Goals. Having goals or things you want to accomplish within the day will give you a clearer way on how to utilize your time for that day.

3. Getting Motivated. When you are motivated to achieve your goals for the day, then your focus will be geared towards achieving those goals.

4. Setting a Good Vibe. Positive mind, positive thoughts equates to a positive day!”

-Dingyull Delos Santos
“I start with a glass of water and some morning yoga. Always make time for yourself before you jump into your work day.”

-Samantha Kwm
“I allow 30 minutes of quiet time for meditation to clear my mind and focus.”

-Amoraadora Veritas
“Walk the dog and have a coffee, then work.”

-Davor Dramikanin

Key takeaway:

When you work from home, the days have a tendency to blur together. Some days, it’s going to be hard to justify waking up in the morning. Having a routine can go a long way towards starting your day off on the right track. How you build that routine is up to you, but mixing physical activity with your preferred mental stimulant of choice (e.g., coffee, tea, a healthy breakfast) is key.

2. What do you do to stay motivated when working remotely?

“I read new things about the industry and walk with my 3 dogs every morning. On Sunday, I cook food for my beloved family and enjoy work-life balance.”

-Gautam J
“My biggest motivation is my efforts recognized as an individual and not as a part of an organization. Being a freelancer allows me to demonstrate my personal work abilities in ways an office job would not.”

-Helmy El-Gindy
“Exercise in the morning and eat chocolate for the rest of the day after that!”

-Kim Sefiane

Key takeaway:

Many freelancers view location independence and autonomy over their time as big enough perks to sustain their motivation while working remotely.

But with social distancing policies in place, the home work environment is rife with new challenges. It’s easy to lose motivation and get distracted by family members or roommates similarly confined to your living quarters.

Creating a routine, eating healthy, staying active, and setting personal rewards can all help you sustain your momentum and remain productive while working from home.

3. What’s your favorite mental reset technique?

“My favorite mental reset technique would be to get away from my keyboard to have a short nap, a cup of coffee, and a little snack to get re-energized before getting back to work. It’s essential to have a mini-break in between [projects]. I don’t want to start my next [project] stressed out.”

-Elena C Dalla Corte
“Stepping away from the computer and spending time with my son [is] a refreshing reminder of why I’m putting the work in.”

-Lauren Tanner
“I go to my small garden/lawn. My green leafy fresh plants and flowers make me relax.”

-Ayesha Naseer
“Switching the topic or subject helps me, whatever I’m working on at a particular time. When I feel stuck I switch to a different topic. Sports help, too.”

-Elvis Miranda

Key takeaway:

We all need a mental reset every now and then, especially in times like these. For remote workers who spend a lot of time in front of a screen, taking a real break away from the computer is the best way to refresh. Garden, take a power nap, eat a healthy meal, or exercise. If you absolutely must keep working, sometimes switching to a different task or subject is enough to mentally reset and get into the zone.

4. What do you do to stay healthy while working remotely?

“I get up from my desk every hour and take an outdoor walk in the late afternoon.”

-Janet Beltrame Trombino
“There’s a workout on my schedule for every single day. I also stay hydrated.”

-Robin Bull
I do kitchen gardening regularly and use fresh vegetables to maintain my health.”

-Sabir Ali Khokhar
“I don’t sit at my computer for more than an hour and a half. During breaks, I walk across my house and do little chores to refresh.”

-Asad UI Islam

Key takeaway:

When working from home, it’s easy to forget how long you’ve been sitting at your desk. Instead of watching videos, playing games, or browsing social media on your break, consider stepping away from your computer. Stretch, exercise, eat healthy, and stay hydrated.

Since you can’t go to the gym while social distancing policies are in effect, consider creating an indoor workout routine. Planning work around a daily workout routine or physically active hobby such as gardening can be a great way to stay active.

5. What’s your favorite time management technique?

A handwritten list with a checkbox next to each task. Nothing more satisfying than putting a tick in that box.”

-Elizabeth M.
“Prepare for tomorrow’s tasks today. Prioritize the hardest projects first.”

-Paula Frost
“When working on intense projects/tasks, Pomodoro technique always has me covered.”

-RaKesh Mandal
“I use productivity apps like Asana or Monday and sort files in cloud storage … quite simple, yet very effective.”

-Toluwanimi Balogun

Key takeaway:

A big difference between working in an office and working from home, is that you have more control over how you spend your time. But with greater control, comes greater responsibility. It’s on you to manage that time effectively now that the structure provided by the office has been removed.

There are many tools and techniques available to keep you organized and help you better manage your time. From post-it notes to productivity apps, choose the time management tool that works best for you.

Stay healthy and productive

During times of stress, when it feels like the world is crashing down around you, it’s especially important to take care of your mental health. We hope that these tips offered by seasoned independent professionals can help inspire you to build your own routines and habits to help you stay motivated and productive while you work from home.

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Author Spotlight

Freelancer Tips for Staying Healthy and Productive
Yoshitaka Shiotsu
Technical Copywriter & SEO Consultant

Yoshitaka Shiotsu is a project engineer turned technical copywriter and SEO consultant who regularly contributes to the Upwork Resource Center. He specializes in helping tech companies, startups, and entrepreneurs set themselves up as voices of authority within their target industries.

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