5 Time Management Tips for Freelancers
The great thing about being a freelancer is being your own boss. You make your own hours, set your rates and choose your own clients. Sounds stress free, right? Well, freelancing also comes with its potholes; such as forgetting to take breaks, because hey you make your own hours and you can stop whenever you want to. Or being late to your kid’s talent show because this new client turned up and you could not just say, “No”. Or worse, missing deadlines or almost missing deadlines and not delivering excellent work, because you spent too much time on your phone or in front of the TV watching that one Netflix series with all the plot twists.
This is especially worse when you are just starting your freelancing career. You are on a high because you are still at that place where you feel that you can take on everything. You can’t. And if you try to, you may crash and burn. This is why you need to manage your time. After getting out of a 9-5 job, many people tend to go to the other extreme, and have no work hours at all. It’s all good, until it becomes a problem.
Here are some tips to help you get stuff done on time, even if they’re very many.
- Don’t Take On Too Much: Learn to say, “No”. This is the top advice for freelancers, because this is one of the biggest problems. Because you can do so much, you are tempted to do too much. Sometimes you have to turn down some projects in order to give your best to some others. This will be hard, truly. But you cannot say yes to every client. Be mindful of how much you can take on at once. If you take on too much, you will get overwhelmed and maybe even frustrated. And you should know, overwhelmed and frustrated freelancers cannot deliver at their best. Set steady rates and take on the jobs that are profitable and worthwhile.
- Take Breaks: This is very important. Don’t work for long hours at a stretch, because you will end up incredibly exhausted, and very near burnt out. Take a 10 to 15 minutes break every hour. You can do this by taking a short walk, watching a 20-minute comedic episode, listening to some music, stretching etc. It will help you reset internally, and keep your mind fresh.
- Make a Time Table: This is more than just a to-do list. Make a to-do list each day of things you want to get done, and add time bands to each task. Example; Research XYZ logo – 9:00 to 10:00am. This will help you prioritize, so you know which tasks are more urgent, and which ones are not so much. Also, do not overdo it. Don’t put 20 things on your to-do list when you know you can only get to five of them. The timetable should be reasonable in consideration to time allocation. Pace yourself.
- Stay Focused: While you work, stay off social media, unless you really have to interact with a client and please, oh please, try not to check your mail every 5 minutes. You can create a simple system that helps you check your mail often without over-checking it. You can check in the morning, before you start working, so you know if there’s something you need to do. Midday, maybe while you sip a delicious cup of coffee (or whatever it is you like) and towards the end of the day, to know if you’ve got any new mail for action the next day. Social media, as we know, is quite distracting, so maybe go online only on your breaks, but stay off all of them when you work.
- Don’t Procrastinate: You start your day by checking your to-do list and you think to yourself, “Oh it’s not so much, I don’t have to deliver this until later. Well, I guess I’ll just watch some Friends reruns.” It’s all good, until you look at the time and realize that you’ve gotten zero or only 10% of your work done, and the day is almost over. Then comes the guilt. It’s always best to do your work, promptly and get them out of the way so you can be open for whatever comes next. Procrastination is always by the door; you postpone one thing unnecessarily, you’ll be moving it again.
Contrary to what people think, working from home is not like a chill and get to it whenever you want to kind of situation. So, follow the tips that have been given above, and you can get your work done, and get it done on time. Managing your time will make you efficient. And also give you a much needed down time with family and friends. You’ll be delivering orders, closing new deals, and making all the recitals. And really, isn’t that why you chose to freelance in the first place?