Freelancers: 8 Ways To Prevent An Epic Productivity Disaster

by Alicia Sparks on December 15, 2011

Did you know if your power goes out, YOU CAN WRITE WITH A PEN? Crazy, I know.

Last Monday, my electric company called to let me know that depending on my exact location, I may or may not be without power the next day (Tuesday) and if I am, it will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

May or may not?! Right in the middle of the work day?!


Naturally, I freaked out for about 10 seconds. Then my Damage Control setting kicked itself into high gear and I started preparing for this possible black out of both light and work.

As I made my way through the day, I also started taking a few notes on how YOU can prevent a potentially epic productivity disaster. Most of these tips will apply to people who lose power (and trust me, this is a HUGE ISSUE for many of us living on the east coast during the winter months), but some of them can be applied to any potential productivity suck.

Except for Twitter, Facebook, and this. I can’t help you with any of that.

1. Notify your clients.

E-mail, Skype, phone – whatever. Let your clients know you are or will be experiencing “an issue” and won’t be available for a certain amount of time.

If your near-disaster strikes without warning, try to at least call your clients. (This is just one reason why it’s important to have your clients’ phone numbers on file.)

2. Keep your laptop charged.

You don’t need electricity to run a battery-powered laptop, and if you have some work you can do without the Internet, do it. For example, I ended up getting 4,000 words written on a no-research-required ghostwriting project.

3. Scout a new “office.”

If you MUST have access to the Internet, figure out where you can go to work until your access returns. Try your local library, coffee shop, bookstore – even McDonald’s has free WiFi these days. (BONUS! You might even find somewhere you’d like to visit and work two or three days out of the week – you know, just to shake things up.)

4. Write.

I mean, with an actual writing utensil.

5. Play catch up.

Whether you use your laptop or a pen and paper, you can work on:

  • New blog posts.
  • A free info product to get readers to subscribe to your newsletter.
  • The outline of your next chapter.
  • That short story you’re entering in next month’s writing contest.
  • A query letter about the article idea that’s been bouncing around in your noggin since last summer.

Depending on how long your “disaster” lasts, you could actually get A LOT accomplished!

6. Study

Lots of freelance writers and editors have a book or seven on hand about their craft. (If you don’t, what are you waiting for? As a freelance writer, you MUST be a lifelong learner!)

Use this time to catch up on reading some of those.

7. Play clean up.

Messy desk? Files all over the place? Enough crumbs in your keyboard to build a whole ‘nother sandwich?

Clean it up, pig! 🙂

Studies show many people work more efficiently and calmly in a clean and organized environment. And by “studies” I mean me, though I did Google this article for those of you who require more reliable information.

8. Take a break.

Hey, maybe this unexpected roadblock is exactly what you need. When was the last time you took a break? Walked down the street? Visited your grandma? Read a book unrelated to work?

Remember, taking a break is GOOD for you.

Now, readers, tell me about a time when YOU faced – and defeated – a potentially epic productivity disaster. What tips would you offer that I’ve left out?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Grace December 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Great ideas. I think for me, if my laptop battery was low, I’d pick up a book. It seems like I never have enough time and my to-read list is getting longer the more blog hopping I do. Either that or take a nap. 🙂

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