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Four Small Steps

How Freelancers Can Succeed: Ande Schurr recommends four steps to increase your&nbsp

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How Freelancers Can Succeed: Ande Schurr recommends four steps to increase your productivity. 

When applied, these four small changes can help decrease general sloppiness and make your thinking sharper.

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Nothing comes from nothing. A rare few people do just get lucky; making millions off a business idea or perhaps achieve celebrity status straight out from school. The rest of us need to put in some effort. We can't rely on such a lottery.  I would rather learn to have a solid work ethic and sharp business skills so that, no matter where I was in the world or whatever industry I was in, I could apply them, and do well - even if I had to start from scratch.

Here are four small steps you could consider to increase your all-round productivity:

Change your computer

If you have a slow desktop computer, try upgrading it to a fast laptop you can take around with you. If you don't need the CD/DVD drive, try one of those affordable Netbooks that fit into the glovebox of the car. Even try a Mac. I have just changed over to a Mac Book Pro after being a PC user for the last 18 years. The difference between the two is profound. Not only is the learning curve basically non-existent, but the entire experience is uncomplicated. The real beauty of the Mac is its simplicity and style; it is simply a pleasure working on it. One other benefit, is that it makes only the faintest fan noise - unlike my noisy PC-based Laptop. Having a quiet working environment has made me more aware of things around me.

Start to save

My priority is paying off my mortgage. The money I don't spend on essential sound gear, socialising or living expenses, goes straight to pay off my bank loan. I don't care that I won't see much of it. I still eat out regularly, and have a good time with friends, but I'm careful not to over-spend on non-essential things like renovating my home. That will come later!

Some of us are fortunate and have had parents who taught us how to save. Others, through no fault of our own, due to our upbringing, are terrible savers. A close industry friend, in his fifties, still lives 'hand to mouth' week after week even though he earns a good income freelancing. He doesn't own a house but rents and has no money saved in the bank. He seems happy about that, so good for him, but I do think it prudent to take charge of your finances and save for the big things you want.

Learn how to spell

This is something that has made a large improvement in my writing. I was an average speller who became even worse due to relying on my computer's spell checker. I was usually the one who would ask the people around me - even till recently - "how do you spell...".

I then made a habit, just last month, that any word I came across in my emails or books I read, that I did not understand, I would add it to a list and learn. I have a fair way to go, but I have seen a marked difference already.

I remember visiting a colleague who was doing some work on a recently filmed feature film called 'Broken Hallelujah'. We were chatting about spelling (try it, it makes for tantalizing conversation) and I casually mentioned I had finally learned how to spell 'Hallelujah'. He asked me how to spell it and thanked me very much saying "now I know what to write on the invoice!". It was very funny.

Learn how to write

Seriously, do people know how to write in full sentences anymore? The advent of Facebook and instant messaging have been the worst things to happen to proper grammar. I have to try to remember full sentences in my emails because of the trend of spitting out the quickest, coarsest way to convey a message. Now that is bizarre. Why should I have to remember something as simple as correct English? I am certainly not the only one - this is a widespread phenomenon! If it is so easy to lose our faculty of proper English, then what other faculties of our mind are also being degraded without our awareness? That is worth pondering!

There we have it; four small steps that may yield a decent improvement in your productively.

Written by

Ande Schurr

12 Jul 2010

Corporate video producer and production sound recordist now based in Singapore after a 15-year career in New Zealand. Video clients incl. universities, tech startups, medical clinics and business consulting agencies. Sound clients incl. Netflix, Discovery, BBC, National Geo.