Freelancers typically have a wealth of productivity-boosting secret weapons on account of having to be their own bosses. Luckily, speaking as one myself, we’re happy to share our tips! Levo already shone a spotlight on things successful freelancers do in the morning, so now it’s time to tackle what goes on after hours. I personally sample some vino, watch a show or two, and read scary stories until I’m too freaked to sleep. That’s just me, though. Here are the lifehacks that help other freelancers wake up refreshed and ready to crush it the next day.
1. Catch up on blogs.
“Before I go to bed, I read my favorite blogs and sites. I love Levo, of course, and I also read The Glitter Guide, The Everygirl, Clementine Daily Rue and IFB. Then I get caught up with reading from my industry and pin a few things on Pinterest. I also read from a real book, whether it’s business-related or just for fun, to help me fall asleep.” —Rose Wheeler, digital marketer and copywriter, founder of the blog Life With Style
2. Schedule iPhone reminders.
“I can get easily overwhelmed by my to-do lists, because they’re often a dozen or so points long. When you see all those action items at once, it can feel impossible to get through them. Instead, before I go to sleep, I schedule a bunch of reminders into my phone. They act as a to-do list in the sense that I won’t forget what I have to accomplish, but I can look at them one-by-one as I have to get each item done. It’s a lot less overwhelming in that sense, and it also keeps me on track to accomplish everything throughout the day at a pace that works for me.” —Jillian Kramer, freelance writer whose work has appeared in Glamour, Brides.com, Details.com, WomensHealthMag.com, and more
3. Unplug and organize.
“I make sure to stop checking my emails an hour before bed, otherwise I can get sucked into the vortex of the internet. As freelancers, we’re always connected, chasing the next opportunity, pitching the next story. Giving myself a nighttime deadline helps keep me on a schedule, but also find a way to give myself some relaxation time. I also like to organize for the next day at night, because I hate feeling scattered in the morning. Before I go to bed, I lay out my gym clothes, do some light tidying up, and set the coffee pot. It makes me feel accomplished, and when I wake up to a cleaner apartment, I feel like I’m waking up with a fresh mind and fresh start.” —Kate Kerley, freelance writer, health coach, and founder of the blog Pinstripes and Palmettos
4. Spend some QT with the TV.
“Before bed, I snuggle with my husband and we watch something funny on TV. It could be a Seinfeld episode I’ve seen a hundred times already, a reality TV series where we harmlessly joke about the contestants and judges, or a brand new comedy we happen to stumble upon. Most importantly, it’s mindless entertainment. It isn’t depressing, scary, or intense, so it helps me totally unwind and laugh. In other words, I go to bed happy every night. Because of that, I wake up happy and ready to rock out some killer copy when I sit down at my computer.” —Katie McDonald, copywriter, content marketer, and founder of Striking Content
5. Write about the day.
“I’ve found that the best way to unwind after the workday is to journal. It’s a way of checking in with myself while being creatively expressive. After working through my thoughts on paper, it’s much easier to let go and relax, which is really important for staying consistently productive!” —Rory Gory, award-winning filmmaker behind Rory Gory Pictures, whose feature film debut The Audience is coming to VOD in 2015
6. Relax and nix the fridge visits.
“My bedtime routine can make or break my effectiveness and mood in the next day. Between experience and studies proving their negative effect on rest, I skip using the smartphone, tablet, and computer for more than an hour before closing my eyes. The boob tube is exempt. I get in bed 30 to 60 minutes before sleep time and wind down with TV or a good book. The difference between seven to eight hours of good sleep and anything less is big. When I don’t sleep well or long enough, I feel like a zombie, and no amount of coffee can save me. Another big thing that helps is to avoid eating anything at least two hours before going to sleep. An unhappy stomach can make for a fitful night’s rest.” —Meryl K. Evans, freelance writer and content marketer
7. Walk the dog.
“I take the dog for a walk. When I get away from everything digital, I can connect to the world around me instead of being confined to the internet. Just strolling along with my dog and looking at the world around me gives me fresh ideas to start the next day. After being inside all day for work, it helps to get outside for a little bit of fun time with the dog.” —Michael J. Harris, creative director, producer, and owner of Massive Multimedia LLC
8. Read inspiring content.
“With long, demanding hours, work in television can be depleting in many ways. To replenish the creative well, I spend the final moments of each day losing myself in a book. I try to be selective about the titles I read, but I won’t shy away from any particular subject. Some nights I’m reading fiction or poetry, other nights I’m studying writing, investing, history, or philosophy. All of these things help to recharge the batteries, whether it’s a leisurely read or a challenging study session, and help me generate new ideas and creative solutions to problems when the work demands it.” —Jonathan Craig, TV producer who has worked on a variety of documentary and competition reality shows including Top Chef, Lockup, and Project Greenlight
9. Work out and check in.
“I’m an night owl, and I live in New York City. Just about every evening, I go to the gym to do 35 minutes of cardio (usually timed to a favorite TV show or CNN) and around 45 minutes of spa activities like swimming or using the jacuzzi and sauna/steam room. I’m usually very mellow when I leave around 11:00 p.m. and walk the ten blocks home. Although I would prefer to just curl up with a best-selling novel and get lost in other people’s lives before going to sleep, I do check email. With PR and marketing clients in different parts of the world, like Australia, Israel, and the West Coast, I need to be on top of any late-breaking issues or journalist request for interviews. That’s why I’m still up writing to you at 3:00 a.m.!” —Samuella Becker, CEO and founder of TigressPR
10. Make a to-do list and learn about my family.
“Before I turn my laptop off to get ready for bed, I write out and review a list of things I am going to do the next day. This helps me be more productive and stop worrying about all the things I need to get done, since I know I have a plan. I’ve also recently been trying to read more before I go to sleep. My uncle lent me a massive book on Gujarat, the state in India where my grandparents are from, so I’ve been reading that to learn more about the area my family comes from. I’ve just gotten to the section about Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister.” —Nisha Kotecha, freelance social media and copywriting marketer for socially conscious organizations and founder of Good News Shared, a website featuring uplifting charitable stories from around the world
11. Unleash my brain.
“Before I sleep, I do the unfortunately-named but extremely helpful ‘brain dump.’ I write down absolutely everything on my mind, from ‘must buy milk’ to ‘tell client to quit her job.’ It clears my brain to actually be productive and creative the next day. I’m a big fan of the ‘get everything out of your head so you can use your brain for actual thinking; school of thought.” —Nell McShane Wulfhart, freelance decision coach
12. Drink tea and swim.
“I disconnect from everything digital after 8:00 p.m., then have a routine that involves taking an evening swim and drinking chamomile tea, among other things. The swim is all about breathing and nature. I look outside my busy mind and heal my brain-ache by focusing on the nattering parrots, the pinking sunset, or the David Hockney-blue of the pool. A rested brain always makes for a productive next morning writing. Later on, while concentrating on picking a favorite antique teacup, I like to daydream about which writer I might have tea with, like Joan Didion or Colette, and what inspired advice they would dispense over tea and raspberries that might help me write the next day. It’s so soothing.” —Nanette Wiser, writer, editor, and digital content producer
13. Play Scrabble.
“When I was first growing my freelance business, I’d think about it morning, noon, night, on weekends, in my sleep, and just before I went to sleep. Although this was helpful to get my business going, it left little space to think about anything else and little room to enjoy anything in life. Now I do just the opposite. I have interests outside freelancing. I make a point of having a social life, I write for myself (I just finished my first book, which will be published in September!), I spend more time with my family, and just before I go to bed, I play Scrabble. These things make me fresher, more productive, and happier.” —Sarah E. Ratliff, CEO of Coquí Content Marketing, co-author of Being Biracial: Where Our Secret Worlds Collide
14. Get zen.
“Before bed, I meditate for about ten minutes. Sometimes it’s just focusing on my breath and how my body feels, while other times it includes visualization. I am a big advocate of meditation, as it enables you to clear negative energy, have your own space, and declutter your mind. It’s great for optimizing your happiness and success.” —Amanda Cohen, freelance writer for Thrillist and marketing manager for Homescout Realty