Freelancing is attractive for professionals who prefer working at their own chosen time. It gives them the freedom to compartmentalize and manage tasks at their own pace, yet freelancing can have its challenges when it comes to time management.
Aside from being hectic—and at times complicated—freelance jobs can put a strain in personal relationships too. Most freelancers have a hard time balancing work from home and family responsibilities. Because they work at odd hours of the day, freelancers’ connection and communication with their significant other becomes limited, often leading to misunderstandings and conflict. Mastering time management is a must in order to stay long in the freelancing game all while making sure personal relations and commitments stay intact.
It has a big contribution to an individual’s productivity as well. When efficiently done, time management helps reduce work stress since you can balance your breaks and working hours throughout the day. It also helps you become a better freelancer because it can positively influence your attitude toward client communication, planning, and task allocation. Lastly, time management is a good start for procrastinators who want to change their attitude toward work.
How do you overcome time management problems to stay productive? Here are some time management hacks that can help you smooth your work schedules, manage your tasks well, and increase your productivity:
Clear your day of distractions
This should be a mantra for every freelancer. Distractions are like that finger that flicks a tile and ruins your carefully laid out domino line. Keep your work space free from distractions, such as movies, television shows, online games. Stay in a quiet place where you can be alone—because yes, even people can be a distraction.
Carefully select your client roster
Difficult clients will make you question why you started freelancing in the first place. You have the power to choose which job or client you’re going to work with—use this to your advantage. Choose clients with clear requirements, objectives, deadlines, and modes of payment. It will also help if you perform some background checks on prospective clients before deciding to work with them.
Draft a daily schedule
Think of your day’s deadlines as your destination; your schedule as the road map, which will prevent you from getting sidetracked by distractions. Scheduling your tasks on a daily basis will help you divide your day into healthy parts work and personal time.
Use the appropriate digital time management tools
A single online search will show you tons of digital tools and apps that will assist you with managing your time. These tools will help you with scheduling your projects, setting up priority tasks, and keeping track of your most productive time frames. Whatever tool you pick, make sure to utilize its features to meet your goals and objectives.
Point out and prioritize deadlines
Missing a deadline is a no-no in freelancing. Most client-freelancer arrangements involve strict requirements regarding deadlines, and successive blunders can harm a freelancer’s credibility—especially his or her online reputation. This is where time management tools you’ve identified come in. Use them to give you a proper heads up when you’re nearing important deadlines. In any case, identifying the most urgent tasks and prioritizing them is key to meeting deadlines.
Break large projects into smaller tasks
Large projects are daunting. Most of the time, freelancers waste hours worrying about how big and challenging the tasks are, than devising techniques on how to deliver outputs on time. Break down large projects into small chunks. Work on the job part by part. This makes the project less intimidating, and you can even allot time to focus on the ones that demand more of your attention.
Utilize the Pomodoro Technique
Developed by Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro time management method encourages individuals to work on tasks in short bursts and allows frequent breaks in between for personal tasks like quick exercises, power naps, and quick meals. Freelancers experiencing writer’s block can even use this method to trigger their brains back to churning new ideas. Proven effective by most, this method is successful in managing tasks, so they won’t overwhelm individuals.
Treat yourself on a weekly basis
This may seem self-indulgent to some, but rewarding yourself is like implementing a form of positive reinforcement to improve your work attitude. The reward can be as simple as a movie weekend, or a quick trip to the beach. Taking weekly rewards will help you look forward on the next one and give you the motivation to finish your week’s tasks.
Learn to say no
Only you can identify your limits. You need to draw the line when things already get too difficult for you. The “say yes” attitude will eventually affect other important tasks that also need your attention. Controlling it early in your freelancing career will make work easier in the long run.
The modern workplace is filled with distractions and factors that affect employee motivation and productivity, and that’s in an office setting where you have supervisors monitoring your progress. Imagine how much more challenging this is for freelancers.
Observing these productivity hacks will help you succeed in the freelancing game. It’s time to stop worrying about the enormity of your work and start tackling it with a one-track mind—to finish.
Erin Scott is a book publishing and marketing specialist at LitFire Publishing, a company based in Atlanta GA which envisions helping more authors transform their manuscripts into top-quality books, and provides personalized marketing and distribution support to help authors become contenders in today’s very competitive market. Follow Erin on twitter at @erinscottlf or read more of her tips at http://blog.litfirepublishing.com.
You may also want to read: Essential Time Management Tips for Freelancers