Effective Time Management Techniques for Freelancers

There is something about freelancing that attracts more and more professionals. This is due to some notable plus points about freelancing. One is the freedom to choose the work, the time, and the place you want to work from. Another is the personal freedom that comes with being your boss. Another factor is the financial freedom that one can enjoy. The most attractive aspect is getting to balance work and life.

A freelancer’s life is certainly all of these and much more. Many are contemplating starting their freelance careers. Many more have just started and are getting a foothold. It is important to note that there is much more than what meets the eye. Successful freelancers have learned from experience that it is crucial to live a focused and disciplined life.

The top reason why professionals choose to become freelancers is freedom of time. The irony is that this is one of the top reasons why professionals quit freelancing. Many who start soon realize that it is difficult to manage their time. Let us look at the importance of time management and some effective time management tips used by successful freelancers.

Why is Time Management Essential for Freelancers?

As a freelancer, there is no one to instruct what is to be done and when. This can be a blessing. At the same time, it can be a curse for an undisciplined person. Clients work on tight schedules. Among others, they expect freelancers to meet deadlines. Not adhering to deadlines can mean losses for the client. That eventually means a deduction in receivable payments. Not meeting time schedules also creates a bad reputation. A lost reputation will lead to difficulty in acquiring good clients and projects.

Time management is the only solution. It is easy for a freelancer to be tempted once in a while to take time off sometimes. While breaks are important for a freelancer to break the monotony, they must be planned into the work schedule. It is important to plan time and stick to the plan.

Managing time may seem like a daunting task. However, with some easy-to-follow techniques, it can be like a piece of cake.

Time Management Techniques for Freelancers

There are some proven time management techniques used by successful freelancers. They are simple and effective. All it takes is a little focus and some effort. Once put into practice, the results are amazing. Let us dive into these techniques.

Never take more than you can handle

Freelancing can be fiercely competitive. You may end up taking more work than you can handle. The reasoning can be improving profitability or pleasing a client. This is particularly true with new freelancers. The first rule of freelancing is knowing your limits. Be your judge about how much work is possible without affecting quality and schedules. Focus on taking work within your limit and building a reputation as a freelancer who delivers quality on time. Your reputation will bring projects for you.

Learn to keep track of time

It is easy to lose track of time while working on projects. Many freelancers try to focus too much on the work at hand. As a result, they leave aside everything else to complete the task and meet deadlines earlier than scheduled. This can cause stress and anxiety, especially when there is more than one project running simultaneously. Learn to keep track of time. Most smartphones have tools like alarms, stopwatches, memos, and calendars. Maintaining schedules in a diary can also prove very effective. Once fairly established as a freelancer, it is a good idea to consider investing in time-tracking software and tools. Managing multiple schedules and maintaining a work-life balance is simple once a freelancer learns and masters the art of tracking time.

Make sure to schedule breaks

An employee is entitled to breaks. Taking a break and chatting with co-workers over a cup of coffee breaks the monotony. It also refreshes. Freelancers need not be any different. Breaks can be used to grab a hot beverage, exercise your limbs, call a relative or friend, and even catch a few winks. Our brains tend to lose focus after 20 to 25 minutes. It is a good idea to schedule a 5-minute breather after every 25 minutes of work. It does wonders for your productivity.

Maintain meal breaks

Timely nutritious meals are necessary for a healthy mind and body. A healthy mind and body, in turn, help deliver optimum productivity. Include two snack breaks of 15 minutes each and a meal break of 30 minutes in your daily schedules. Move away from your work desk, clear your mind of tasks, sit at the dining table, and relish each bite.

Set and maintain your working hours

This technique may come as a surprise to new freelancers. On the other hand, seasoned freelancers abide by this rule. Set aside the most productive eight hours of your day. Make it your work window. The window may be an early morning window for an early bird, while it may begin late in the afternoon for a night owl. Setting working hours of choice is a privilege only freelancers have. Also, set your weekly off days. Make sure clients are aware of these schedules too.

Set priorities

At the beginning of each day, take some time out to plan. Break the jobs on hand for the day into tasks. Set priorities for each task and assign a time frame to complete them. This will help in completing the daily deliverables without stress. At the end of each day, keep aside some time to check if priorities were met and tasks completed. Any spillovers will be top priorities for the next working day.

Keep distractions at bay

Distractions can play havoc with a well-planned schedule. When working from home, distractions can come in the form of family members, pets, neighbors, television, etc. You may have scheduled the day to perfection. However, even a seemingly harmless distraction can cost a loss of a few hours of work. Make sure to find a place with the least distractions. If possible, work in a closed room. Inform family members of your schedules. Create a no-disturbance atmosphere.

Use Templates for Client Communication

A good deal of productive hours is spent writing emails to clients. Most of these emails are repetitive. Keep a basket of ready templates for repetitive emails. It may be in the form of Word Documents, Notepads, or Google Docs. These are very convenient and time-saving as the ready templates can be pasted and edited before sending to the client. Once established as a freelancer, invest in automation tools for replying to emails that do not need your immediate attention.

Change your workplace sometimes

Freelancers have the advantage of working from the comfort of their homes. This brings a feel-good feeling for some time. However, it may also lead to monotony and lethargy after a few years. Your productivity, quality, and schedules may get affected. A change in the workplace can eliminate this monotony. Be ready to pick up your laptop, phone, etc., and go to the nearest food court in a mall or your favorite café. Sometimes, even your friend’s place can provide you with a little change. If your earnings permit, consider membership at a co-working place where you can have your own cubicle or table space.

Use Time Management Tools

In this age of technology, there are several software and time management tools to help freelancers. Time tracking tools can keep track of time spent on each project or client. You can check if the amount you charge is worth your time. Some tools help you effectively create and manage to-do lists. Planning tools help create plans and schedules and keep you on top of your schedules. Most of these tools are available as free versions. However, paid versions give you much more like reports, charts, and added features.

Conclusion

Time management is a top priority for any freelancer. It is not about just delivering on time. It is about planning and self-control. It is about delivering quality. Using the right techniques and tools, freelancers can easily manage their efficiency, schedules, as well as quality.

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