1. Set times & plan your day
Not many people are going to work well without some structure. Waking up in the morning without any sense of direction for what needs to be done, or what you’re going to do that day is a recipe for disaster.
Start scheduling or setting daily milestones. If you don’t work best on a “hour based plan’”such as writing a guest article from 1PM to 2PM, set milestones for the day—one guest blog post, two blog posts on my personal site, complete client design, etc.
2. Keep an organized to-do list
When you’re juggling half a dozen projects at once, you’re just asking for trouble by keeping a to-do list in your head. Don’t you want to be able to sit down in the evening and have a few worry-free hours from your workload? If you’re not keeping a to-do list somewhere other than in your head, you’ll be heading straight for burnout.
The solution is simple. Buy a moleskin notebook or pop open TextEdit on your computer, then spurt out all the tasks and actions you need to achieve. Don’t worry about the order, just pump out everything that needs doing. Once these are on paper, focus on organizing them. It’ll feel much better having a visual action list you can look at to see what needs to be done.
3. Set goals & milestones
In addition to your newly developed to-do list, start setting goals and milestones. For instance, if you have a blog, a goal might be publishing 5 entries per week for four weeks straight, while a milestone might be hitting 2,000 readers via your RSS feed.
Goals are very important, not enough people set them. I for one have set goals to keep me focused, to keep me looking straight and ahead, and they are perfect to use as motivation for something to work toward.
4. Disconnect yourself from the outside world
This falls under focusing on a single task. When you’re writing, the last thing you need is to be distracted by Twitter messages, or emails. It disrupts your overall flow and makes starting your piece again hard to do. On occasion, one simple email can ruin hours of your work day.
You don’t have to close your email program, practice ignoring notifications. If you hear the new email sound ignore it, keep working, and keep in the flow.
5. Focus on a single task
Multi-tasking can be fun, and can be rewarding. You think you’re getting a lot done at once, killing two birds with one stone when all you’re really doing is dragging out both tasks longer. Spend some time on a single task or project and focus. Don’t try to write an article while also dealing with marketing related emails. Keep them separate. When you’re doing, one ignore the other—allowing you to work more quickly and efficiently in the long run.
Glenn Wolsey is a freelance content creator from New Zealand. His personal blog (RSS) features articles on topics such as technology, photography, and blogging. He also has a community based video show which can be viewed on iTunes or YouTube.