18 Awesome Yet Unusual Productivity Hacks For Freelancers

Here at Freelance Hustler, we are always keen to learn new tricks to keep our productivity high, to ensure that we can create the best content for you guys, while enjoying our lives to the fullest. So we have put this post together to share the 18 most awesome yet unusual productivity hacks for freelancers.

Between the two of us we have some great hacks that help us to continue raising our minimum baseline of awesomeness. Some of them go against what we often hear, but we urge you to give them a try. Who knows, they could switch you up a level. Be sure to let us know how you get on!

1. Keep Your Goals To Yourself

We’ve all heard how important it is to let the world know about your goals, to create vision boards, to write congratulations letters to our future selves and stick reminders on our mirrors…. What if this absolutely wrong?

Well according to Derek Silvers there is a good chance that we have been reducing our likelihood of achieving said goals by shouting about them from the rooftops.

The satisfaction that comes with the positive reaction of our friends can feel so good, that we lose motivation to strive to reach the actual achievement.

That good feeling works as a psychological mind reality – find out more by watching his TED talk below.

If you are shaking your head right now, cursing us for putting this number one, because you don’t even have any goals right now, then check out our Upwork.com Starter Kit here:

Click Here to Start your Freelance Journey Today: Learn about the 5 freelancing tasks that even beginners can have success with on Upwork.

2. Get Rejected

Sure, rejection can sting. So badly, that it can force us to quit before we really get anywhere. Most people can’t handle rejection at all – and it’s not surprising that a huge chunk of the world’s ‘greats’ have a heap of rejection in their past.

Rejection is nothing to base your worth on. Just look at Stefani, who was ditched by her record company Def Jam, before reinventing herself and emerging as the incredibly successful Lady Gaga.

Rather than roll over and cry into her meat dress, Lady Gaga used the energy of rejection to focus on making her sound even more unique. The rejection actually enhanced her creativity, and helped to shape her into the talented musician and performer that she is today.

3. Work on Ultimate Problems

In this fascinating article published on Psychology Today, Robert Epstein speaks about the importance of tackling impossible tasks to stretch the capacity of the brain, by putting it into shock mode.

One way to accelerate the flow of new ideas is by challenging yourself–that is, by putting yourself in difficult situations in which you’re likely to fail to some extent. A challenging situation is like an “extinction” procedure in the behavioral laboratory. We extinguish behavior when we withdraw the reinforcers that usually maintain that behavior. In challenging situations, a great deal of behavior goes unreinforced; it just doesn’t work.

It’s possible to take advantage of this robust process to spur creativity For example, from time to time we can give students and employees open-ended problems to solve–problems that have an infinite number of solutions. Rather than saying, “Please give me three names for our company’s new widget,” try saying, “Please give me as many names as possible for the widget.” You’ll get two or three times as many proposals from which to make a final selection.

Here are some examples of problems-without-solutions that you can use to challenge and stretch your brain. Remember that you are simply looking to stimulate ideas rather than come up with a concrete solution:

  1. How can we eliminate ageing?
  2. What is the perfect way to raise a child?
  3. How can you ensure that all wars in the world are ended in the next 7 days?

4. Get Vulnerable

Brene Brown always gives a great TED talk, and this one is no exception. She encourages us to face our fears and step out of our comfort zone. While this is great advice for a number of reasons, one thing that is often overlooked is to increase productivity.

Just think about it for a second, anxiety can cloud our ability to complete work to our full potential. If we can face our fears, anxiety need never get in the way again!

5. Structure Your Procrastination

Procrastination is one of those things that we are all told to steer clear of. Eliminate. Destroy. Hunt down like the enemy.

But this unusual productivity hack is a little different – we are encouraging you to use your procrastination time wisely to benefit your day overall.

Sometimes it can be very useful to potter around for a while and get all of the little things done and out of the way before you tackle the big stuff.

We are typically told to dive straight into the most important task, but sometimes this leads to a feeling of such utter dread, that you just can’t move forward with the day. In situations such as these, it can be beneficial to complete the easier things first, to give yourself an achievement boost and also reduce the feeling of doom that was holding you back.

In the TED talk below, Sunni Brown chats about the productivity benefits of one of our favorite procrastination pastimes –   doodling.


6. Don’t Work Harder Than You Need To

A lot of the time, effort does not equal success. We have written a blog post on just this, you can check it out here.

7. Learn To Say NO!

Saying ‘yes’ to everything will undoubtedly mean that you end up with no time to do the things that are important to you – and this is just as true in the work environment as in your social sphere. Try making decisions in advance and sticking to them, this will prevent you from being persuaded to change your mind when you are put on the spot.

A simple trick to help you to follow your better judgement is to use the phrase ‘I don’t’ instead of ‘I can’t’ in your ‘no’ sentences.

In other words, saying ‘I can’t drink a beer tonight’, is less likely to stop an individual from having a beer, than someone who says ‘I don’t drink beer on a week night’.

8. Use social media

Social media, what every freelancer loves to hate. What if we told you that you should be active on a few platforms everyday to boost your productivity?

The secret is changing  the way that you use social media, so that it is not just a constant distraction. Rather use it as a tool – a managed source of inspiration and connection with peers or a mastermind group.

Social Media
Social Media

9. Just Do It

This tip only works if you are not shattered and ready to drop into bed.

Stop waiting to feel motivated. Hanging around waiting for the elusive moment of peak performance is a waste of your time. Rather get over your whiney emotions and get the work done.

Of course if you didn’t get enough sleep then you need to address that – but if you are not really exhausted or unwell, and simply can’t be bothered – then have a word with yourself and knuckle down to work.

10. Manage Your Energy

In his classic self help book, The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr speaks of the importance of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy – and how to manage it intelligently. He says that we should be concerned with managing energy and not time.

He describes peak performance as a myth – with energy being the most important factor.

“We survive on too little sleep, wolf down fast foods on the run, fuel up with coffee and cool down with alcohol and sleeping pills. Faced with relentless demands at work, we become short-tempered and easily distracted. We return home from long days at work feeling exhausted and often experience our families not as a source of joy and renewal, but as one more demand in an already overburdened life.”

Sound familiar? Get your hands on this book!

11. Get Comfortable

When did you last think about how comfortable your work space was?

Probably when you had to stretch your back out five minutes ago.

Take some time to get your workspace optimized – after all you spend HOURS here.  We’re talking ergonomically designed gadgets, plants to look pretty, soak up free radicals and reduce stress, natural lighting, and stimulating colors.

12. Leave Your Desk And Have Fun!

Well, at least a fun break. As per one of our all time favorite resources the Pomodoro Timer, you should have plenty of short breaks as well as some longer breaks spread throughout your day. This should help when you are feeling sluggish or just can’t concentrate.

You should make sure that you leave your desk for these – get outside, jump on a rebounder, play with the dog….whatever makes you smile!

13. Stop Multitasking

Take a leaf out of Paolo Cardini’s book and stop multitasking! How much are you ‘doing’ right now? Even subconsciously?  Playing music, writing an article, reading a blog, checking Facebook? How many browser windows do you have open?

Be honest with yourself! Maybe you could benefit from Monotasking, which Paolo describes in detail in this video.

14. Take Time Off

Need a guilt-free reason to take a LONG vacation? We have just the answer here. Stefan Sagmeister swears by taking elongated time off to boost productivity (possibly because the bills are piling up while you are away!). He closed down his studio for an entire year. Take a look at his story here.

15. Think Inside Of The Box

This is an unusual one right?

How many times have you heard that you should think OUTSIDE of the box? What does that even mean?

For some of us, that means getting bogged down with strategizing at the cost of getting stuff done. Many tasks require straight forward SOPs to be completed effectively and efficiently. So sometimes it is best to stay in the box and work through the process – remove other distractions, including ‘big thinking’.

Click Here to Start your Freelance Journey Today: Learn about the 5 freelancing tasks that even beginners can have success with on Upwork.

16. Walk On The Job

You may have heard of a standing desk before – literally a workstation that allows you to complete your work on your feet. There are many health improvements connected to this method, and it is also said to improve productivity.

What you may not have heard of are treadmill desks, which allow you to keep moving at a modest 1-2 kph while you crush your day’s tasks. It keeps your blood flowing and brain firing without you even breaking a sweat.

Treadmill Desk
Treadmill Desk

17. Take An Ice Bath

Or if you can’t handle an ice bath, give an icy blast in the shower a try instead. This is advocated by a Wim Hof, known as the ice man.

He claims that the extreme cold temperatures make you feel wide awake, and could even reduce mental health issues.

18. Work Before Dawn

Do you suffer from FOMO? Fear of missing out?

Do you find it tough to resist hanging out with friends when you are invited to lunch? Or maybe sometimes a beautiful day arrives on the doorstep, and the fact that there is no boss to tell you off makes it seriously tempting to skip off to the beach?

Then try working when everyone else is asleep, to free up your day to have fun! Many freelancers advocate waking seriously early to tackle the bulk of work before the birds have gone to look for that elusive worm. Of course, you will have to cut back on the late nights if this is your choice, because you need to get adequate sleep still.


We hope that you enjoyed these awesome yet unusual productivity hacks – be honest, how unusual were they? Have you tried any of these yourself? Get involved and comment below. We would love to hear from you.

If this article has inspired you to find out more about freelancing then check out our Upwork.com Starter Kit here:

Click Here to Start your Freelance Journey Today: Learn about the 5 freelancing tasks that even beginners can have success with on Upwork.

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