The way that many people work has changed with the current economy. More and more people are turning to freelance work as their primary form of employment. As a freelancer, your time is your most valuable asset. But time is a commodity that is easy to waste. So, if it sometimes feels like time is slipping through your fingers, you need to do something about it. Here are ten time-management tips to help you become an efficient freelancer.
1. Structure Your Day
When you are a freelancer, you must manage many tasks during a day. There will be emails that need answering, proposals to prepare, and, of course, there will be work to complete for clients. The most efficient way to approach this type of varied workload is to group like tasks together. For example, instead of answering emails as they arrive, answer all your emails first thing in the morning.
2. Keep Track of Time
One of the most common things that freelancers ask themselves at the end of a day is, “where did all the time go?” The only way you are going to find out where the time is going is to keep track of the time that you spend on each task. There are some excellent time-tracking apps available online, or you can keep track of your time on a spreadsheet. Tracking your time will help you identify where you are wasting time, and it will help you stick to your schedule.
3. Become a List Maker
Keep to-do lists for your work-related and personal tasks, and keep those lists updated throughout the day. You must be flexible in your approach to work as a freelancer because you are working alone, so you can get pulled from one task to another. You must keep your to-do lists up to date as you go through the day to ensure that nothing gets missed or forgotten.
4. Take Frequent Breaks
Working at a fast pace in short bursts will achieve more than attempting to work flat out all day long.
Different people will have different views about how often you need to take breaks. The best thing to do is to listen to your own body. When you feel tired and your concentration starts to wander, take a ten-minute break.
5. Find Your Peak Performance Time
Some people work better in the mornings, and some people are more productive in the afternoons. Find your peak performance time and schedule your most demanding work for that time of the day. Use the times of day that are less efficient to plan, strategize, and get yourself organized.
6. Never Forget That Time is Money
Never forget that a freelancer’s time is a freelancer’s money. Try not to get distracted during your working hours by personal phone calls or by non-productive activities. Avoid doing too many favors for clients as well. There’s a difference between providing excellent service and giving away too much of your time for free.
7. Have Long-term Plans as Well as Short-term To-do Lists
Create plans for the day, the month, and the year ahead. Set yourself targets and then break those targets down into manageable to-do lists. You have no boss when you are a freelancer, so you have no one to bring you to task if you fail to perform. You will need to set your targets and monitor your performance yourself.
8. Eliminate Distractions
Focus on one task at a time and avoid distractions. Staying focused when you are working alone can be difficult, especially if you are working at home. Set yourself a strict daily routine and stick to it rigidly. Start work at a set time, take a lunch break at a set time, and have a set time to finish your working day. You wouldn’t get away with coming in late every day if you worked in an office, so don’t let it happen when you are freelancing.
9. Break Large Projects Down into smaller Tasks
When you have a large project or a time-consuming piece of work to complete, it can be challenging to stay focused when there appears to be no end in sight. Large projects are also harder to time-manage as you go along. The best way to approach projects that will take a lot of time is to break down the project into smaller tasks. Then, you will able to track your time against each task, and that will help you better manage the timing of the entire project.
10. Figure Out What is Best for You
You can find lots of time-management advice, and some of it makes a lot of sense. Even so, don’t try to rigidly follow anyone’s time-management tips, because they may not work for you. Take the ideas that you read here and in other publications and test them out for yourself. We are all very different people, and what works for one person is unlikely to work for everyone.
The above tips won’t work for everyone because time-management is a personal thing. Even so, the important thing for a freelancer to take away from this post is that time is valuable. Once you begin to understand that time is money, you will appreciate the importance of managing your time. How you go about time-management is up to you.
Want more tips? Check out Work Smarter, Not Harder While Working From Home