Why Your Internet Morning Routine Limits Productivity

If youre like me, the first thing you do when going online is to load all your favorite websites, checking for any updates or changes. I call this the Internet Morning Routine (IMR). A nice dinner with Sasha over made it clear why it can hinder productivity.

I’ve configured my browser to load my email and blogs with one click. I begin every morning by spending an hour at most dealing with unanswered emails and comments. Getting those relatively minor items out of the way sounds like a good idea, right?

Then I recognized why IMR can be unproductive. By the time youre done, your head is full of thoughts, since youve dealt with so many things. Instead of starting with a fresh mind, emptied by last nights sleep, the little gray cells are packed with ideas. And this may make concentrating on the first task you have scheduled after the IMR a little hard, especially for a poor multitasker like me.

Of course, Im not saying the only time to check your websites should be at the end of the day. Thats an easy way to buildup your backlog and stay out of the loop. My point is, before anything else, try to get at least one task done, then take a break to check things out. In short, its better to hit the ground running, rather than begin the day mired in minor details.

The Jack of All Trades – and Master of None.

I discovered the hard way why you should focus your efforts and not spread yourself, even if you know how to do a lot of things.

Now I’m not saying I can do anything, but thanks to my course in college, I learned how to use programs like Photoshop, Flash, and Maya. After graduation I also rediscovered my passion for writing. So initially I was involved in writing, graphic design, and computer modeling.

Then, about two months later, I realized maintaining such a diverse skill set was limiting my improvement. We all know that practice makes perfect, and by doing three different things, I simply wasn’t giving the time nor focus each skill needed to grow. To use an example, 12 hours devoted to one proficiency becomes 4 hours for three. The job still gets done, but the lack of general focus hampers the learning process.

So as a freelancer, I decided to stop making computer models. It wasn’t a hard choice. Creating 3D representations of complex objects can be time-consuming, and I honestly found it frustrating, spending the whole day just to see if my idea would work. And even though I spent four years learning it, I was actually least passionate about computer animation.

Remaining a writer and graphic designer came naturally. These two skills are actually complementary. I’m sometimes asked to write the copy for advertisements, aside from designing them. And since I write daily for three blogs, I’m sure that my writing “muscle” gets exercised. Even if I still have to divide my time between two skills, I’m in a situation where both of them enjoy the time and focus vital for improvement.

On IQ and How it Applies to Freelancers

By scheduling time to read up on new things, you increase your knowledge and help your ability grow.

Rich Kid, Smart Kid, for all the controversy it generates, at least gives a sensible illustration of IQ: intelligence relative to age. In other words, the more intelligent someone is, compared to the average intelligence of his age, the higher his IQ.

This also means to maintain your IQ, learning new things as you age is necessary. Someone who grows older, yet still knows the same things, is technically decreasing his IQ.

How does this apply to freelancers? The discipline and commitment EQ brings are crucial, but without a good IQ to complement it, a contract worker will have a harder time. You use IQ to come up with ideas, and EQ to execute them. Try to put aside some time everyday to learn new things, so that youll maintainor even increaseyour IQ as you pursue your freelance career.

What Contract Worker Considers “Freelancing”

This blog is about freelancing. We already know where the word came from, but there are differing opinions of what it means. Strictly speaking, a freelancer’s involvement with a company is only for one specific job. Neither full- nor part-time. But, for the purposes of this blog, even part-time commitments fall under the scope of freelancing. In fact, I’ve decided to consider freelancing in its most general sense. Which is basically not being tied down to a single job. In fact, many of the most lucrative freelancing opportunities don’t end on the “first date.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean spreading yourself too thin (the jack of all trades is the master of none). It’s still possible to work for different clients/employers, but practice only one craft. In fact, if done properly, constantly practicing a skills means you’re concentrating on it. Practice always makes perfect, and within the limits of human stamina and physical possibility, working too much was never bad.

That is the beauty of Contract Work: not limiting yourself to a single obligation comes with lots of advantages. Like building a network of contacts, since you get to interact with different kinds of people. Or Enjoying more opportunities to hone your abilities. And, of course, the chance to earn more money within the same amount of time. There is of course the danger of not giving each project the attention it deserves, but a person who has mastered the fine art of time management will have no problem.

Admittedly, I’m still a long way from that. But only my sleep suffers because of my inexperience, which is something I think I can sacrifice from time to time.