One of the biggest draws of working in the gig culture is being able to engineer your own work schedule. Sure you might have deadlines or people to report to, but if you get your job done, you could be able to create a balance between work and non-work that applies specifically to you. But with that comes a lot of self-motivation and a personal strong work ethic, which can be trickier to sustain than it might seem. Up to one’s own devices, it can be easy to slip into a rut of unproductivity and procrastination or to put in simpler terms – being totally lazy.
With that in mind, I’d like to offer some suggestions for being productive in the gig economy.
HAVE A ROUTINE
Creating a routine might sound like a boring proposition when you’ve embarked on a career and way of life that specifically allows for more independence, but it can be incredibly helpful in maintaining productivity. One of the more basic tips for creating a routine is simply to keep hours that you devote to work. This kind of structure might sound antithetical to the looser nature of the gig culture and more in line with day job culture, but consider that in the gig culture that the individual gets to choose what time and how much they want to devote to their profession. So, say if you’re a night owl and would prefer to spend the wee hours toiling at your computer or driving around strangers, there are some gigs that are amenable to that way of life. But it should be noted that in many, many jobs, gigs included, some times interaction with other people is necessary and if you’re keeping atypical hours this could make things more difficult. It’s best to shoot for a rhythm that supports both your personal preferences and work necessitates.
That’s not to say that devoting time for work means that it has to be solely spent on work. That would be exhausting and a good way to burn yourself out. Even in some kind of corporate job, an employee is not technically working a hundred percent of the time. Having worked in offices myself, I remember developing routines that worked for me. For instance, after coming in in the morning, I would take care of anything pressing (check voicemails and emails and what have you) and when I was in the clear, I would usually take a moment to read some news. If something else came up, like the phone ringing, I would change my priority. I would also try not to visit all the sites I enjoyed at once, so that I could parse out these little escapes through out the day.
I believe some occasional distractions and breaks can be helpful to a productive workday, it’s avoiding the major distractions that become key. Some people are able to work effectively with the television on, for others, myself included, I would be inclined to pay attention to whatever is on the TV screen instead of the one my work is on. Social media is another good example. I’m sure many, if not all of us, have at one point been stuck in some endless time suck of a newsfeed only to finally finish and wonder if that was really time well spent. I’m not saying don’t spend any of your work time watching a show or scrolling Facebook, just perhaps allot a specific portion and try to stick with that timeframe.
BREAK YOUR ROUTINE
But you may be turned off by the idea of creating some kind of schedule for your workday. Isn’t one of the points of working in the gig economy not being confined to a rigid workday structure? Sure. And that’s why I would suggest breaking your routine every once in a while. Maybe you want take a hike in the middle of the day or get out of the house and work in a coffee shop for a couple of hours. Breaking up the routine like this can actually have benefits to your overall work output. There are also ways to break your routine that can be beneficial to your life and potentially your work – exercise, naturally fits in this category, but also taking classes. Things like learning a new language could open up whole new possibilities.
In regards to breaking your routine and time management, if you know how to do your job well enough that you are able to make a living at it, then you probably should know generally how long a project will take you and how much effort you need to devote to it. Being aware of these things can allow a person to be a little more open with their time management.
Maintaining a viable lifestyle as an employee in the gig economy can be tricky and it could become difficult to stay on track sometimes. But applying the practicality of a routine, while allowing some wiggle room for the extra-curricular, could help an employee create a fulfilling way of life in the gig economy.