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Being a freelancer does not mean you can just sit around and wait for opportunities to come for you. Being a freelancer often means that you should set a gig and update your gig at least once in six months to attract a customer. It is more like selling your potential but you do not have to go far to workplace. Not only that, working as a successful freelancer also means that you should always learn and increase your goals each day. Likewise, improving your productivity is as important as the others.

If you want to finish your job fast and have more time to enjoy your day which is the main idea of working as a freelancer, you should double your rate and productivity. To do that, here are simple yet powerful tips to increase your productivity as a freelancer.

A   Begin each day with a set of plans

Instead of waking up then checking social media notifications on your phone, you can start your day by reading the to-do list you make the previous night or create a new one immediately. As you organise the tasks by the importance or the difficulty, you should also set each goal for  tasks. You should arrange your work schedule according to your ability and how you want to use your time. As a freelancer, you should not be sluggish. It is still important to get up early and get some exercise as it will help refresh your mind and improve creativity.

B   Meditate each day

Exercise is important and you can add meditation to your list. Doing a meditation each day or night can increase your focus. This simple exercise can help your wandering mind to focus more on one thing and help you have a peaceful life/mind. It is proven by science that people who mediate can have higher focus because their minds wander very little compared to those who don’t meditate. You can be more relax – the more relax your mind is, the more task you can get done. Almost all successful people do meditate in their life.

C   Apply Pomodoro technique

What is Pomodoro technique? Never heard of it?

It is a technique where you should work for 25 minutes without distractions – without ANY distractions. Then, you can rest for 5 minutes and after 4 session, you can have a longer break – 30 minutes at least. To help you with this technique, you can use time tracker or time reminder installed in your laptop or phone. Moreover, this technique is easily applied and likely to succeed. As a result, you can be more productive by not being in that social media or phone stuffs.

D   Plan your break time

At the beginning of the day, you have to check or create your to-do list but you should not forget to create a break list as well. Break list will help you organise your break time. Combining this list to your Pomodoro technique can be powerful to eliminate every distraction that might haunted you because you know when to rest and when to work. Therefore, you won’t keep checking your social media, phone, or even fridge during productive time.

Read also: How to Balance Your College and Work life When You are a Freelancer

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Upon graduating from college or university, you might think that excellent grades and academic achievements will help make your job search easier. However, not as easy as it sounds, job hunting is always challenging. You have to compete with hundreds, if not thousands, candidates before actually get the job you want.

Looking for a job is not an exact mathematical science that is as simple as 1 + 1 = 2, but there are more factors that come into play. Those factors will determine whether you are the best candidate who can fill the position or not. A survey conducted by Future Workplace shows that there is a gap between job hunter’s perception of recruiting process and the company’s human resources department’s expectations. This means that sometimes, you can only wonder what hiring managers want and go through with the hiring process without knowing exactly what they are looking for from a candidate.

Here are seven important things you should do before starting your search:

Clean your social media presence – Recruiters are increasingly using social media to ‘stalk’ potential candidates’ personality and determine whether they will be culturally fit the existing company culture. That being said, it is better to spring clean your social media profiles from any sensitive or embarrassing posts and unnecessary information. If potential employers find something that they think negative such as posts containing bad words or controversial issues, it might lessen your chances of getting the job offer.

Find referrals – Most HR professionals would agree that employee referrals can be the best method for finding top candidates. It was said that applicants that are hired form referral start their work faster that those who apply via job boards or career sites. So, before landing a job, it will be better if you get in touch with someone who has been working in the company or other professionals in your expertise who can give you recommendation.

Learn technical skills – According to U.S. News, a quarter of employers rank technical skills as the most skills they are looking for in their candidates because nowadays. By learning technical skills, it will greater your chance to land a job in a position you want. Moreover, developing skills you are lack will boost your self-confidence and candidacy.

Find out the most wanted skills and highlight it – If technical skill is crucial, then so are other skills such as communication, adaptability, or result-driven. These are soft-skills that a hiring manager seek in their candidates. Other top skills company usually look for are leadership and teamwork. Therefore, you better highlight one of those skills so your resume can grab employer’s interest.

Highlight your internship, not GPA – If you are a recent graduate, you probably think that good grades are what employers seek most in candidates’ resume. The truth is, employers are more interested in applicants working experience such as internships and social achievements like volunteering. So, do not just highlight in what you have achieved because experience wins most attention.

Prepare yourself for a sudden test – In some interviews, the hiring manager might want to give you a sudden test because they want to see how prepared you are. Therefore, you should always be ready and prepare yourself for it. As best as possible, try to find out what the test will be about.

Learn the company’s background and history – This is the very last and crucial thing you should always keep in mind before pressing the ‘Apply’ button. Lack of information can cost you your job application. Recruiter might think that you are not serious with the application or you just want to test yourself. So better to prepare rather than regret later.

Read also: Maximize Your Job Search with Matrix Decision

Thanks God It’s Friday! After buckling down on an important project for the whole week, weekend finally comes and it should be the time to rejuvenate yourself after all the hectic weekdays. However, instead of relaxing, you cannot stop thinking about your unfinished project and getting worried about the upcoming deadline. Without realising it, your mind has always been occupied with work-related matters that makes you unable to enjoy your time-off. Even worse, you might end up using your holiday to get back to your tasks.

While you want to be a professional with astounding loyalty and commitment towards your job, it does not necessarily mean you should sacrifice all your lifetime for work. Taking work stress home will not only ruin your mental health as it overwhelms your mind and makes you restless, but also damage your body as it steals your sleeping hours that will lead to sleep deprivation. What should you do, then?

Every now and then, you should leave work matters at work and maintain good work-life balance. Here’s how you can achieve a peace of mind during your day-off:

Create a to-do list

Most people start to worry about their incomplete tasks right before the end of the day. When the clock shows the time is 5 pm, they have just realised that there are still a lot to do. This is most likely to happen when an employee does not have good time management. To deal with it, you can jot down a brief list of what you have to do for the next morning in your notebook. This way, you will be less bothered about the job matters as you have prepared for tomorrow’s schedule. Close the note and make sure you don’t open it again until the next morning. Besides task-related list, you should also create a list about what you will do exactly after you exit the office door. You can write any meaningful activities such as having exercise, making dinner, doing your hobby or other activity to fill your spare time.

Make another project

To divert your attention and stress about work, you can busy yourself to do other meaningful activities that will make you feel happy and refreshed. For example, you might want to change your room layout, have the wall repainted, take care of your garden, learn a new language, or anything else which needs your focus. However, you should keep in mind that this other project will not add up a new burden for you.

Don’t be alone

When people are alone, it is easier to have their minds wandering around and thinking about a lot of things, including their incomplete assignments. When it happens, you should find other person to talk to. You should go out of your room and have a quality time with your family. Or, you can call your friends and hang out with them. Talking about your job matters for minutes is okay to reduce your burden, but you cannot ruin your quality time with your beloved ones by lamenting the matters all the time.

Stay away from your working devices

There is a common pattern: you receive an email notification, then you open it and accidently you see other emails related to work. After that, you feel disturbed by the fact that you have not finished the report requested by a client two days ago. As a result, you cannot enjoy your holiday and choose to open your laptop and work on that report. To prevent this from happening, it is important to stay away from your working devices such office laptop or mobile phone. When you have an office account on your own mobile phone, you can turn the notification off until the next day you go back to work.

Article first appeared in HR in Asia.

Next read: 5 Questions to Consider Before Making Career Changes

Employees typically work from 9 to 5 in a day, which means that they spend almost one-third of their time in the office. Given that lengthy duration, no wonder that being in healthy workspace is just as crucial as having healthy residents. Owing to that reason, encouraging employees to adopt healthy lifestyle is among top concerns for dedicated employers who want to establish healthy workforce.

A survey conducted by Harvard suggested that majority employers (91 percent) believe that adopting healthier lifestyle at work is beneficial to reduce the costs for employee healthcare. Not only does it bring financial advantage, healthy work habits will also shrink sickness-related absences as well as boost greater productivity. If you need some aspirations to begin your healthy campaign, below we share 5 healthy work habits for healthier office life you can start right now:

1. Enough sleep

It is common knowledge that people need at least eight hours of sleep in a day. Unfortunately, not many people actually have the privilege to do that. Owing to one reason and another, people often go to bad late and end up getting less than eight hours of slumber. While in fact, sleep deprivation will cost your concentration, performance, and cognition. Therefore, make sure that you get enough amount of sleep, as this will help you to be more aware and alert in the workplace, and thus increase your productivity.

2. Exercise breaks

Every once and a while, you should take some time to do some stretching at work. Exercise breaks will help your body relax and refresh your mind during tight schedule. Even simple stretching without leaving your desk, or take couple of minutes to walk around the office could help you stay awake at work.

3. Healthy snacking

Often craving for some additional snacks before lunch? Be careful of what you munch! Replace unhealthy snacks full of calories such as potato chips, candy bars, and cookies with better ones such as protein bars, oats, and nuts. You can also store fruits for healthy refreshments. Then for healthier beverages, move from soda or syrup to mineral water, infused water, or iced tea with less sugar.

4. Good teamwork

When co-workers build a solid camaraderie, they can work and collaborate side by side in harmony. Such good teamwork will create healthy relationships among employees, which will help them overcome strain and anxiety in their jobs that might come as the result of conflicts with coworker or unhealthy workplace politics.

5. Work-life balance

If one day you feel like under the weather, do not push yourself to go to work just because of nearing deadline or busy schedule. There is no need to work through the day when you feel that you cannot give your best performance. Being professional and showing dedication to your work can mean anything, but showing up when you are sick does not count. Additionally, it is crucial to maintain a healthy work-life balance by not taking work-related calls or emails after working hours. This practice will help you relax at home, while reducing unnecessary fatigue and stress from being overworked.

The presence of well-connected networks, availability of Internet on Smartphones has made it possible to stay connected anywhere on the move. This advantage, does come with its share of drawbacks to impact personal and professional lives at a point in time.

Now you can also connect with managers and supervisors at home or vice-versa connect with family and kids when at work. This has in turn, made it extremely difficult to draw a work-life balance and keep personal-professional lives separate. While we all intend to do so, somewhere you do notice a blending of both – that doesn’t facilitate productive time away from work or even at work.

The two seem to collide and cross path with each other at every other occasion. In an era where technology has greatly impacted our work-life patterns, you need a strategy to set clear line of demarcation to keep the two realms of your life distinctively apart.

Due to work demands and tight deadlines, many people continue to place emphasis on work over personal life. This is not a good practice as it causes both mental and physical stress due to imbalance between work and life. Separating the two is very crucial to ensure that your body gets enough rest to meet personal and professional life challenges.

While this might sound highly impossible, here are several ways you can make efforts to keep personal and professional life separate:

  • Maintain time discipline

Professionalism could mean anything, and unfortunately, staying at the office until midnight does not count on that. Rather, all you need to do is follow the main rule by coming to work on time and leaving work on time. If your work hours starts at 9, try to arrive 10-15 minutes earlier so that you still have time to prepare yourself before focusing on work.

When your work hours end, avoid lingering around in your cubicle to complete the ongoing tasks. Unless they are very urgent, you can always come back tomorrow to finish them.

  • Overcome procrastination at work

If you are the type who could get easily distracted, then it could make you procrastinate the job, it is time you change the bad habit. Find out what distracts you and try to minimise it as much as possible when you are working. This way, you can use your work time efficiently and more productively.

  • Create different social media accounts

In the present day, social media is no longer used for personal purposes and entertainment alone. Major companies are now using social media to network and drive engagement through relationships with customers, employees, and potential talent.

However, you are not advised to blend personal and professional information in one social media account. It will be better if you could use two separate accounts for work and private purposes.

For example, it would be more convenient to log in Facebook and connect with family, relatives and best friends. While for business connections, you can always use LinkedIn to stay in touch with colleagues and business partners.

  • Find activities outside work

Do not make your job as the only identity to define your personality. As a way to refresh your mind from the daily work fatigue, you need to do something different from what you have always done in the office. Find a new hobby which has nothing to do with your job role, such as gardening, photography or cooking. Once in a while, you might also need to take some time off to travel, have vacations, or simply hang out with non-work friends.

  • Keep personal issues at home and professional issues at work only

Just like how you have to leave all work affairs when you are at home, conversely you also have to leave all personal affairs when you get back in the office. Whether it is a problem with your partner, children, or parents, you should be able to put them aside for a while and shift your sole focus to the project you are working on and execute tasks on time, without procrastination.

Next read: Backstabber at Work: The Signs and What Should You Do About It

Is Work-Life Balance a Myth?

People keep trying to reach work-life balance. But, how many has achieved it? You may have heard that work-life balance is a total myth, because how can you be sure that you did split work and life equally? Most likely, there would be a ‘side’ you prefer.

 

Work or Life more?

Some people are just plainly workaholics. Workaholics enjoy their job or for some, feel compelled to do it. Thus, working on off days are pretty common for them. While others who don’t think their job as everything, put more attention on family, friends, significant others and their personal well-being.

 

The idea of Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance can happen when you have it sorted out. The idea is to compartmentalise “work” activities (working in the office, meetings, business trips) and “life” activities (spending time with your loved ones, keeping healthy by sleeping or do some sports). Realistically, it is impossible to make it a 50-50.

If you analyse “work-life balance” itself, you will figure out two assumptions which are:

  1. Work and life are separate entities
  2. The “life” are equal, if not more, important than the “work”.

With this knowing, you would realise the difficulty to reach work-life balance.

 

Is “work-life balance” really a myth?

If you agree with the definitions above, then yes, work-life balance is a myth. Work-life balance only can be present if you stop regarding work as a separate entity. Wherever you go, you can work. Thanks to technology.

In the end, work-life balance can only happen when there is no line dividing work and life. You can have work-life balance, as long as those two things are one in the same for your end.

 

The tips for work-life balance

The key is to understand your priorities. There are moments when work requires more of your time, yet there are moments when your loved ones need your presence. Always ask yourself “What are your priorities for the day?”, Then focus on that. During workdays, focus on what needs to be accomplished and perhaps there might be times where you need to do a little overtime. It’s alright! As long as you make sure, you did make time for your “life” activities.

Another question to answer is: “What is the best you can do today?”. Today, you may spend 9 hours at work, and only 60 minutes to gather with your family. Tomorrow, you might perhaps spend half a day on your “life” activities and possibly only 10-minutes for work (emails, etc.).

The idea of balance is that you will adequately spread out yourself with the various activities and ensure a healthy well-being overall.

Dancing to a Better Work-Life Balance

You’ve just arrived in the office; a mountain load of work welcomes your arrival. Your boss gets up to you and orders you to complete them by tomorrow. However, at the end of the day, there’s still a long way to what they call completion; you head for home with that stack of files and documents to accompany you through the night. At home, your 6 year old keeps pestering for a bedtime story; your new born cries non-stop. While having to settle things on this side, you still remember that you have lots of work to do.

Does this scenario ring a bell?

You can’t possibly tell your boss that you didn’t complete the work as you had to take care of your children or didn’t have time. Or else, he would show you the way out.  Many working adults today are torn between the two: life and job.

These are tips that can help you to improve your work-life balance.

1. Organise

Work is never ending and demands are overwhelming. Prioritize what is important to you: family, work and even your personal interests.

 

2. To-do list and avoid distractions

Create a to-do list for yourself every day. Set a time to complete them. While you are trying your very best to keep to the list that you have created, put away distractions. Close tabs that cause you to drift away while concentrating on your tasks and put your phone away. These can really help you to reduce the amount of time that you waste and allow you to complete tasks efficiently.

 

3. Take breaks

Did I read it wrongly? Take breaks? No, you didn’t. You may think that taking breaks are a waste of time but it helps you to work better. By gluing yourselves to your seats the entire day isn’t going to help much. Instead, take a short ten-minute break after 1-2 hours of work. Standing up to stretch, grabbing a snack (preferably a healthy one like an apple) or reading a blog post on Jobiness are ways to take a short break.

 

4. Don’t think of work after you leave the office

When you leave from work, stop thinking about the projects or tasks that you have. Neither should you check any emails related to work. With work kept out of your mind, you would be able to focus on other things that matter too such as family.

 

It is a challenge for many to maintain work-life balance. At the end of the day, many sacrifice either side of the scale. Work-life balance is very important, be careful not to overlook it!