Back in the mid 1800’s, many people spent their waking hours looking for gold. Photographers spend time trying to calculate the golden hour, which is usually the first and last hour of the day when the lighting conditions are best for taking beautiful photos outside. I know I’m golden when I spend my time working in the morning. Here are some tips for freelancers to get things done throughout the most productive times during the work day.

1. Having a routine is key.

If you do the same type of work daily, think about blocking out a set time every day to get your work done. I personally work best in the morning. I can easily crank out an article at the crack of dawn. I often joke that it’s because I was born at 5:46 in the morning. I don’t try to change it and you shouldn’t either. If you’re a night owl and you do your best work from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., then officially schedule that as your work time. Embrace it and be happy that having a flexible schedule is one of the best parts of being a freelancer.

2. Block out time to downshift.

Plan what you will do when your energy starts to dip. One mistake I used to make was pushing too hard all day. I used to find it hard to be productive once I hit my midday slump. Sometimes I would still try to pump out work that required a lot brain power. I realized that trying to do things that required too much “heavy lifting” mentally was working against me. Since I felt exhausted, I would call it a day.

Now, I switch gears and do things that are still important like cleaning my work space, writing down my to do list for the next day or recording the next important step on a project, so I quickly remember where I left off. Come up with a list of tasks that you can do to maximize your time when you are less productive, so you can still feel productive by crossing items off your to-do list. I read an article once that said that even when you’re not feeling like the energizer bunny get some caffeine in you and lie down for a few minutes, and that lying down is the key — not just the caffeine. I didn’t think this would work, but I have tried it a few times and have to admit that caffeine and even 20 minutes of rest does produce an energizer bunny. 

3. Schedule time to stay organized

Make sure you incorporate time to keep things running smoothly. Maybe you can organize your business finances or pick up an ample amount of office supplies when you know they’ll be on sale. Put it on your calendar so you take care of these types of tasks on a regular basis. They may not be the most glamorous, but you’ll be happy when you hand over your financial information at tax time or when you go to reach for some printer ink.

The Bottom Line

A routine lightens the decision-making burden of what to do each day so you can focus on what’s most important. Don’t try to go full throttle all day and into the night. You can get lighter tasks done when you’re energy isn’t at full capacity. It also ensures that you keep things orderly so you can continue to work effectively.


Karen is a Nationally Syndicated Personal Finance Writer who sharpens her skills at US News Money. You can also find her placing clients on podcasts and reading about home office organization, productivity and habits.

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