Apart from being your own boss, one of the biggest perks of freelancing is the freedom you get to enjoy in terms of when, where, and how you want to perform work.
Unlike a regular employee, a freelancer is not bound by schedules and deadlines that they need to strictly adhere to. As long as you provide the service you promised to give at the time you agreed, you should be good to go.
This freedom, however, can also become a freelancer’s biggest challenge. With everything practically up to your decision, it’s easy to get sucked into the time misuse trap.
That being said, time management is essential if you want to become productive and by all means, a successful freelancer.
The idea of working from home may seem like a lot of fun but let’s be honest, avoiding temptation isn’t the easiest thing to do when they’re practically inches away from your fingertips.
Social media, Netflix, and video games are some of the biggest distractions one has to deal with which makes time management all the more essential.
What can good time management bring you, anyway?
For one, it can make you more productive than you can ever be. It can let you finish more tasks in less amount of time without sacrificing quality.
This alone already gives you a big boost in terms of the things you can still do with the time you have left after accomplishing your work duties.
The more work you finish, the more time you have left for yourself and for your family. It also keeps you from rushing work that needs to be done ASAP.
Without proper time management, we have a tendency to get very disorganized. This is why it’s important to put a certain structure around things especially when it comes to your schedule.
With time management, you’ll be able to work on projects with better focus because you understand what’s urgent and what’s important.
Having a better focus will of course lead to a better quality of work.
With your priorities in place, multitasking won’t be necessary and with your full attention on the work at hand, you can use all your energy and creativity to come up with top quality work that will make clients wanting more.
Tight deadlines don’t have much weight when you have an organized system in place.
By having a firm grasp of what needs to come first and which ones can wait, you’ll have better peace of mind as you complete one project after another.
Better quality and the ability to meet deadlines are just some of the qualities clients look for. Imagine how big of a boost it would give your reputation if you can consistently provide both.
With time completely on your hands, it’s easy to put things off and just do them later which we all know is the first step towards disaster.
By practicing time management, you’ll have no room for procrastination because everything’s organized and according to schedule.
So, how do you go about managing your time so you can get more things done? Below are some useful tips you can try.
We can all agree that an endeavor that didn’t go through proper planning is deemed to fail. You simply can’t go to battle without the weapons you need to survive.
That being said, planning your tasks ahead of time would be a very good first step and it doesn’t matter if you decide to do it on Sunday night or Monday morning.
Just make a list of all the important tasks you have for the week. Rank them according to priority so you can stay on course.
Planning your tasks also gives you the opportunity to maximize your energy and productivity. You can do this by scheduling your more difficult tasks when you are most efficient and the easier ones, during your more “relaxed” hours.
If you’re a morning person, for example, you can do the heavy lifting first thing in the morning by writing that very detailed blog post. You can then work on your “lighter” tasks like social media engagement during the afternoon or at night.
As sharp as you think your memory is, you can’t really trust it to remember everything, especially the minute details.
If you’re going to plan your schedule, make sure to write everything down and be as specific as you possibly can.
You can do this on paper if you are the more traditional type but there are also apps that simulate post its that you can use so you can have these notes displayed on your desktop as a reminder.
Which project will you be working on for tomorrow? What time are you planning to do them? Which one comes first and which one goes last?
Doing this will give you a sense of structure and something to stick to so you can maximize your work hours.
With freedom in your hands, the biggest enemy a freelancer needs to contend with will probably have to be distractions.
Because there are just so many of them!
Unlike being confined to an office space, doing freelance work allows you to work practically anywhere but mostly from home where you’ve got access to just about anything.
It’s easy to put the laptop down and turn the TV on so you can catch a glimpse of that game you’ve been looking forward to.
It’s easy to open another browser so you can go through your Facebook newsfeed or watch a clip on YouTube.
It’s easy to go to your phone and get caught up scrolling through social media.
The best way to avoid “temptation” is to block them off or find ways to keep them from distracting you.
Having your own home office would be good for starters. It doesn’t have to be an office at all. Just pick a spot at home where you can have privacy and perform work with minimal distractions.
As for social media, there are apps you can install on your web browser that will keep you away from social media. Similar apps are also available for phones so you can resist the temptation of checking them every once in a while.
Writing blogs, managing inventory, editing videos, or any other task for two straight hours can be exhausting. This can easily let you lose focus or worse, let you lose interest in what you do.
To keep this from happening, it’s important to give yourself a break from time to time and to try working in short bursts.
This is exactly what the Pomodoro Technique is all about. The idea is to work 25 minutes at a time then take a 5-minute break in between.
You’ll do nothing but work during those 25 minutes then do anything non-work related for those 5-minute break periods. You can make yourself coffee or tea, hang out in the garden, or just look outside the window.
Being in total command of your schedule allows you to choose when you want to work which means weekends may not be necessarily off-limits depending on your preference.
Just like working 9-to-5, freelancers also need a work-life balance so try to keep your weekends free as much as possible.
Though you’re not leaving the comfort of your home, you still need time away from work. You need time for yourself as well as your family. What’s the point of going freelance if you’re going to live to work.
People leave the 9-to-5 so they can “work to live” and to experience less pressure and stress. It’s pointless to go freelance if you’ll still be stuck in the same routine, don’t you think?
Lastly, you need to learn to say “no” when possible. As much as you like to please your clients, you have to keep in mind that as a freelancer, you are in charge of your time.
That being said, you need to learn how to draw boundaries when it comes to the amount of work you take.
If you don’t have time to perform additional tasks your client wants you to do, you need to muster the courage to push back.
This isn’t only applicable for things that can overwhelm you. If the task being offered doesn’t interest you or suit you, feel free to say “no” too.
Only take what you think is enough so it won’t impact the other aspects of your life. Sure, you will earn more with lots of projects in your queue but is the stress, overwhelm, and anxiety really worth it? Are your family and happiness really worth sacrificing?
Freedom is one of the reasons why people go into freelancing. By being your own boss, you get to be in complete control in terms of how you want to perform work.
This same freedom can also become your biggest enemy if you’re not disciplined enough especially when it comes to time.
Time management is crucial in every freelancer’s life because drawing the line between work and life can be challenging when you spend both at home.
The tips provided should help you manage time better so you can become more efficient and enjoy this freedom freelancing has to offer.
Interested in learning more ways to improve your experience as a freelancer? Check out these helpful tips from several successful freelancers.
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