How to be More Productive as a Freelance Web Developer
Web development has blossomed into a full-profit enterprise over the past two decades with the rise and continued rapid growth of the internet. Getting information out there as quickly as possible, attracting viewership and clients, and doing it more creatively and efficiently than the competition has turned into a big money maker throughout the global economy.
Given the fast-paced nature of the business and the ever changing economic climate, web development is definitely a higher stress job than most. Being able to deliver a stellar product on a budget and within the tight constraints is a continual challenge for the successful web developer.
Be More Productive as a Freelance Web Developer
Knowing and Using One’s Strengths
There is a great book on the market today titled “Now, Discover Your Strengths” authored by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. Serving as a follow-up to Buckingham’s “First, Break All the Rules”, this book focuses on effective management skills within Corporate America, however; the message is just as applicable to web development. When one knows the areas in which they excel and in which they falter, they can then play to their strengths, and rely on others to mitigate their weaknesses.
In web development, there is nothing wrong with collaborating with others who possess different strengths. It is far better to hire out processes to ensure they are done as effectively as possible.
This will also allow one to apply more focus on areas where they themselves are strong. Doing this ensures the overall process is that much stronger due to the individual contributors being better together than they are separately.
Make Yourself at Home
One of the best ways to increase productivity is to ensure the workspace and environment being used is conducive to ensuring one is comfortable in their surroundings. Having a comfortable chair that is ergonomic, relieving the stress of sitting for extended periods of time is paramount to increasing one’s productivity.
If someone has to get up or move around more in their chair because they are not comfortable, this will ultimately take away from their ability to focus on the task at hand, developing web pages or applications. Some other options for relieving stress from working at a desk are going wireless, utilizing soft-gel mouse and keyboard rest to alleviate joint stress, and using dual monitors to maximize the amount of screen space one can use to view multiple applications at one time.
The Top Ten List of “Must Have” Web Applications
Here are ten of the best applications to utilize when it comes to web development. Each work to increase usability and productivity for the end user.
This is a great web development tool which allows the developer to create customized, more user-friendly Facebook tabs.
Great for employee communication, Present.ly aids in colleague calibration with one another on a number of different projects throughout a company.
When looking to get marketing quality feedback on products and services, Concept Feedback is the way to go.
Building and maintaining websites for both business and personal use is the cornerstone function of Neosites.
This application will provide great marketing detail showing a business how visitors got to their site, as well as where they came from to get there. It also indicates which online marketing initiatives are cost effective or not.
Roxer is great because it allows for web page creation without programming knowledge.
Another collaboration application, Play Nice.ly allows multiple users to work together on an assigned project at any given time.
GitHub will bring together public Git responses, collaborator management, issue tracking, wikis, downloads, code review, and graphs, storing all of this information in one place.
Offering real-time analytics, Mixpanel allows corporations to see how users interact with web applications.
Don’t Forget to Exercise
Although web development may requires very little physical strength and stamina, the mental wear and tear one will undergo will more than make up for it. Taking time out of a busy schedule to work in both cardio and weight training exercises will keep one’s energy level up throughout the day.
Studies have also shown an increase in exercise partnered with a healthy diet will also lead to lower stress levels. Lower stress levels have also been linked to a reduction in risk of stress related issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and numerous other stress related health issues.
Sometimes it is About Who One Knows
Try to avoid the Debby Downers of the world. Even those with an extraordinary positive outlook on life will succumb to negativity when constantly surrounded by it. By talking to people who are upbeat and cheerful throughout the day, it becomes easier for one to adapt to that climate and also see things in a more positive light. It is also important to take time off to spend with those folks that make a person feel good such as friends and family.
Striking a work/life balance and surrounding one’s self with positive individuals are two great ways to ensure when it does come time to work, one can stay at the peak of their productivity.
Keep Work at Work Even When Work is at Home
In many instances, web development is a work-from-home career. It definitely has its benefits, but needs to be kept in check or else one finds themselves working all the time. Especially if one has a family at home, regardless of job, they have to come first. It is important to set specific hours one will work, or even set up rules.
Whether they maintain a standard Monday through Friday, eight to five schedule, or work something more modified, once the schedule is in place, it is best to stick to it as closely as possible. When one understands they have a limited amount of day to get their work done, it is much easier to focus during that time making them much more productive.
Nothing Personal. Just Business
The downside of web development is similar to many other specialized jobs. As soon as people know someone has that talent, they always want the specialist to either do it for them for free or at a discounted price. Although good-hearted as it may seem to give in to these requests, it always takes away from the job one is getting paid to do, or at the very least burns them out so they cannot do their normal work as well.
Al Capone once said, “To kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite.” If one cannot say “no” when asked to take on jobs without pay or drastically discounted pay, they will quickly become overworked, and far less productive. If one does opt to take on additional work, they also should be wary of doing it for less than it is worth. If one is going to spend additional time on it, they should be equally compensated for their time.
Schedule the Schedule
One of the biggest deterrents to productivity is the managing of personal communications. This includes e-mail, social networking, online chatting, and taking phone calls. Whereas some of this has to be done, nearly 90% of e-mails which come in do not need to be responded to immediately. A great way to protect the day from the onslaught of communications coming and going is to set up times throughout the day to check in, and then stick to them.
A good rule is to dedicate 90 minutes a day to communications, scheduling 30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes at midday, and 30 minutes in the afternoon. Not only will this help one to remain productive outside those times, but once people realize they will not get a response until those times, they will quickly realize a lot of what they need can wait, thus actually lowering the number of internal communications a person will receive each day.
Prioritize: First Things First
Much like moving from one house to another, the best things to move first is the heavy stuff when everyone is fresh and full of energy. That way, as people get worn down throughout the day, even though they may have less energy, the energy they have to expend is equally less as well. The same goes for web development.
Figure out what the hardest or toughest job is going to be and knock it out first. Then move on to the next toughest job and so on. This way, the stuff needing to get done at the end of the day will be easier to do with less energy, and still allow for productivity to remain at its peak.
Always Be Prepared
Just like the old Boy Scout Motto, always make sure there is time to research the project, assess the skills needed to be successful at it, and taking the time to continue developing those skills to stay ahead of the curve.
Doing so, will not only make one a more efficient and productive web developer, but will also ensure they continue to be marketable in the ever-changing technologically driven world in which they live. Because things change daily, staying up to date with the market will greatly benefit the productivity level of any web developer.
Who Says the Workweek Has to be Long?
There is a great blog by Tim Ferris, an entrepeneur who helps apply prime ideas to increase productivity and workflow in the lives of others. Some of the things Ferris teaches that will improve productivity are as follows:
- How to outsource one’s life and do whatever they want for a year, while still not only making money, but actually increasing their bank account.
- European economist’s tactics to eliminate up to 50% of one’s work within 48-hours.
- How to create “mini-retirements” by cashing in on the long haul career and working more productively in short bursts.
- Learn the difference between absolute and relative income, and how to apply that knowledge to one’s personal fiscal well-being.
- How to train one’s employers to promote based on performance and not presence.
These are ten great tips web developers around the globe can utilize to maximize their productivity without sacrificing their work/life balance. Much like any list of tips, to be successful the end result is dependent upon the ambition and drive of the one behind it. Ultimately to make these tips work, one has to be willing to implement, and more importantly, stick with them.
On average, it takes twenty-one days to form a habit, and although seemingly simple on paper, some of these tips are easier said than done. Even if all ten cannot be implemented today, pick a few that can, and then build from there. Doing so will lead to a more productive, less stress-filled life.