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Productivity vs. Efficiency: How to Get More Done in a Day

Jan 10, 2023
(updated: Jan 9, 2023)
Lesson duration: 5 min

We often consider productivity and efficiency synonyms. Two of the main objectives of any freelancer or company are to improve productivity and efficiency. But they are two very distinct things that frequently clash with one another. In fact, efficiency gains can lower productivity, and productivity gains can lower efficiency gains. But how do they differ from one another?

In this blog, we'll provide you with an in-depth and insightful answer to this question. You'll also acquire strategies for improving productivity as well as efficiency. You'll also learn how to get more work done in a shorter time frame. 

The real definition of productivity and efficiency

The production of an individual, team, or system during a certain time period is its productivity. Productivity in the context of freelancing may be evaluated in terms of either the number of jobs done, or the amount of work produced or the money earned. A freelance graphic designer could keep track of the number of tasks they've finished, while a freelance writer would keep track of the number of words they've written in a day.

How productively an individual, organization, or system makes use of inputs to generate outcomes is a metric used to assess efficiency. Freelancing efficiency may be evaluated in terms of the time it takes to finish a job, the quantity of resources used, or the amount of money spent on the final product. For a freelance web developer, measuring efficiency may include keeping tabs on how long it takes to finish a project, while for a social media manager, it may involve keeping tabs on how many new followers are acquired for every hour spent on the job.

There is a common misunderstanding that equates productivity with efficiency. Efficiency is a measure of how well resources are used to get a desired result, whereas productivity is a measure of how much of a result is really created. To rephrase, efficiency refers to how effectively one makes use of available resources whereas productivity measures how much work is accomplished. 

To provide an example, a freelance writer may be able to crank out a lot of words quickly, but if they aren't efficient with their time and energy, they may not be able to keep up that pace indefinitely.

3 ways to improve productivity and efficiency

The faster you can complete assignments, the easier it will be to hit deadlines and make more money. Here are a few tips to optimize your workflow:

Prioritizing tasks

Studies show that managing multiple duties concurrently lengthens the completion of duties and negatively affects productivity. Hence, to deliver productive work, you should avoid multitasking while prioritizing tasks and undertaking important duties first. You will effectively use your resources in this manner, and productivity bottlenecks will be alleviated. 

Prioritizing tasks is the essential skill for freelancer

Streamlining processes

If the existing management techniques are more disadvantageous than advantageous, you should opt for better ones. 

One of the best techniques for boosting productivity is time blocking. In this technique, you break the time of your workday into blocks. You assign each time block to a particular assignment and establish a deadline for it. For instance, research time from 9 to 10 in the morning, writing time from 10 to 1 in the afternoon, lunchtime from 1 to 2 later in the afternoon, etc. To use your time more effectively, adhere to your time blocks as directed. Utilize your workday to its fullest by making a few modest structural improvements. 

Automation tools

You can maximize productivity in your routine by leveraging modern technology and tools. Incorporate technology as a part of your workday. It can help you save time and dramatically accelerate procedures. Utilizing technology allows you to coordinate your resources more effectively. You don't need to squander resources by carrying out tasks manually. Technology will help you distribute your resources as efficiently as possible and reduce the possibility of errors. One of the most beneficial tools you can use for this is Indy's Time Tracker, a free tool that helps you keep track of time automatically and get paid more accurately.

Setting clear goals for efficiency and productivity improvement

Don't forget your WHY

A deep purpose and a strong desire are things that can serve as a beacon for you to reach your goals. 

According to studies, the brain programs itself to develop the perfect self-image and makes it an integral part of our identity when we train our minds to think about and work toward our life goals. If we succeed in our aim, we feel fulfilled; if we fail, our brain keeps prodding us unless we do.

Setting achievable goals as a freelancer

Another crucial prerequisite for goal-setting is accountability. We often do better when there is someone keeping an eye on us. For instance, when we exercise alone, it is easier to avoid the gym or compromise on a diet.

However, there is a greater probability that we will comply with the goals and achieve them if we work in groups or have a coach to help us through the process.

By rewarding oneself for the efforts and successes, we also find it easier to stick to the plan. So make rewarding yourself common when you complete a project or a major task.

Practice Regularly

Practice is something that is stressed for continuous improvement in something. However, most freelancers and workers tend to pursue reading and learning things instead of actually practicing them. See, when you practice something you focus on implementing what you've learned. You become a process-driven person and put yourself through a consistent routine of doing something regularly. You make it a cohesive habit of your life. 

Your daily actions pertaining to your habits and beliefs have led to your life as it is today. Continuous improvement will follow after you become aware of this and start focusing on developing better habits every day. Our outcomes are determined by our daily behaviors, not by the knowledge we acquire or the goals we have in mind. Focus your attention on the process rather than the final outcome, and embrace the boredom.

Eat healthy and sleep well

It is not a new thing that eating healthy and sleeping well play an instrumental role in determining someone's overall productivity. According to Harvard, there are a few foods that exponentially improve the performance of the human brain. They are:

  • Leafy greens: Kale, spinach, and broccoli
  • Fatty fish: Salmon, cod, and tuna
  • Berries: Strawberries and blueberries
  • Caffeinated beverages: Tea and coffee
  • Nuts: Walnuts and Almonds

Sleep is another element that has a substantial contribution to productivity and efficiency. According to research, sleep aids learning and memory in two different ways. 

Healthy lifestyle for freelancers

First off, being sleep deprived makes it difficult to concentrate and hinders learning. The opposite is also true; having a sound 7-8 hour sleep can help you be more attentive and aware of your tasks. Second, sleep itself plays a part in memory retention, which is crucial for absorbing new knowledge. 

The 3 key factors for peak performance: Increasing productivity and efficiency

Peak performance is the state of being at the highest level of productivity and efficiency. These three key factors will help you achieve new heights when freelancing: Communication, work environment, and technology.

Coherent communication

Improving productivity is something that lays its foundation on coherent communication. How? Most of the time, individuals want to feel heard. It's challenging to reach an agreement if you're not paying attention to what the other person is saying. Avoid slurring your speech, planning your next move, or cutting someone off when they are speaking. Instead, pay attention to what they are saying.

To ensure that the other person understands all you are attempting to express, whether verbally or in writing, practice being succinct yet still very specific. It's crucial to avoid providing irrelevant or excessive information. So, let's not mince words. 

Effective workplace communication creates a healthy work environment, assures that people have the knowledge they need to operate properly, and gets rid of inefficiencies.

Communication between freelancers

Work environment

Working conditions are integral to workplace productivity. Simple elements like lighting, color, and decorating have an impact on our mood. They also significantly affect the atmosphere of the workplace.

For instance, blue and green have long been popular choices for workplace walls because they are linked to innovation and creativity, while red is linked to focus. Additionally, good lighting—preferably natural lighting—can help workers stay alert and avoid headaches after spending a lot of time in front of a computer. 

Technology & tools

Orchestrating project management and important tasks can be difficult. But with tools like Trello, Asana, Freshbooks, Slack, Buffer, Grammarly (for content writers), Canva (for designers), you manage almost everything. Indy is another amazing 9-in-1 tool that thousands of freelancers across the globe use. What’s more? Its core tools are free to use, forever.

Managing time and stress

Dealing with increased levels of stress when tasks keep piling on is one of the major challenges of being a freelancer. And the sooner you get a handle on time and stress management, the better you feel each day. Here’s how to approach both:

Time management

To begin with, time management is nothing more than prioritization. Creating a rational schedule and following it diligently is one of the best time management skills you can adopt to increase productivity and efficiency.

Most independent workers and individuals misjudge the importance of prioritization and how it affects the growth of a company. It provides the solution to the questions of your career self, your objectives, and your plans for achieving them. Your brain works and goes into "attention" mode when you prioritize. 

You have total control over your workday when you freelance. It might be fantastic, but it can also cause uncertainty. You cannot overlap your tasks during your working hours, even though you are free to pick them. In order to effectively manage your time, you should prioritize your tasks by finishing the most crucial ones first and the less crucial ones last.

If setting priorities is challenging for you, consider ranking all of your ongoing and pending tasks according to their importance. 

For instance, if you are pursuing multiple tasks or projects at once, determine which task or project is more vital. It can be the one that pays the most money or the one that demands your immediate attention because failing to finish it could harm your bank balance. 

List each client's outstanding tasks, after which you should focus on the most important ones. You can discard or archive tasks that aren't urgent or important until all other tasks have been finished. Learn more about time management by clicking here

Stress management

Managing time is important, but you shouldn't neglect the management of your stress. Let's face it. Freelancing can get overwhelming and affect your productivity as well as efficiency. 

You can feel stressed when delivering a project that you are confident fully satisfies the client's demands but are informed that it needs to be totally redone. You could also experience stress if your personal time is continually being invaded by work obligations, allowing no opportunity for exercise, socializing, or family time. 

There are numerous reasons for stress. Make a plan to deal with the issues that stress you out the most after identifying them. 

Firstly, calculate your return on the time you are investing per project. Low prices could draw prospective clients, but if your hourly wage is $5, you will hate your profession. Set prices that will bring you a respectable income. Give your soul time to heal. To bring stress under control, take short vacations during your leisure time.

Make an effort to spend more time with friends and family. Spend money on the crucial connections in your life. Live a balanced, conscious life. When your only source of income is freelance employment, it's very easy to lose balance in your life. Things will also probably be out of balance if you frequently dislike the work you do.

Think about "fun" methods for compressing your stress. Embrace laughter and say yes to that comedy drama. It can augment stress reduction, and the break necessary to rejuvenate and renew your spirit. 

Following these strategies will surely lead to efficiency and productivity improvements, as far as output quality and quantity are concerned. 


So, this was all about productivity and efficiency. Follow the productivity hacks given in this blog post, and you'll be on a fast track to improve productivity in your day-to-day routine and achieve success much faster. 

Want more advice on how to optimize your efficiency? Check out 6 more tactics to increase your productivity.

Get started today!

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