As the name implies, becoming a freelancer provides you with a level of freedom that is difficult to achieve in most other occupations.
In fact, this is the primary reason why most people pursue this type of career. But, people also quickly discover that proper time management is a lot more difficult than anticipated. Don't worry, though, — we put together a guide that can help you hit the ground running.
Let's take a look at some of the most important time management tips you can incorporate into your routine.
You can't expect to manage your time appropriately if you don't keep your tasks properly organized. This means that you should develop a detailed list of all your necessary obligations, which is something that will allow you to gain insight into your total workload for the day.
When you're fully aware of your immediate responsibilities, you'll be able to work at a pace that allows you to handle all of them. Otherwise, you might find yourself functioning slower than you should and run the risk of delaying projects, missing deadlines, etc.
Hectic's task management tool allows freelancers to create a comprehensive outline of all of their ongoing projects. You'll have access to detailed information, such as due dates, overall progress, and even suggested actions.
Proper task management is the foundation of any successful freelance career, so it's essential that you take it seriously.
Most freelancers will immediately eliminate major distractions on their own. For example, they might put pets in another room, close windows to eliminate noise, etc.
But, you'll need to take things a step further if you want to be as productive as possible. For some individuals, it's exceedingly difficult to avoid touching their phone at least once within a five minute period. Even a quick glance away from your computer screen could derail your train of thought and make it difficult to re-enter a flow state.
What begins as a quick refresh of an email inbox could turn into a 30-minute journey down a social media rabbit hole. Before you know it, you've wasted nearly an hour staring at your phone screen when you could've been making progress toward your tasks for the day.
So, you'll need to take an objective look at your daily habits and determine what type of activities prevent you from using your time efficiently. Then, you can eliminate or minimize these distractions so that you can maintain high levels of productivity.
It's all too common for a freelancer to sit down and work on a project and feel as though they have accomplished a significant amount. Then, they look at the amount of time that has passed and realize they didn't get done nearly as much as they thought they had.
For this reason, it's imperative that you keep an accurate record of the amount of time you spend while working. For instance, let's assume that you sit down to work on a graphic design project that should take approximately two hours of continuous work.
Between taking breaks, distractions, independent research, etc., you're able to complete the project in five hours. Although you handled the task, it could have been done far more quickly.
Fortunately, Hectic offers an effective time tracking tool that provides insight into how you spend your time on work-related responsibilities. By analyzing this information, you can conclude what type of tasks take you the longest to complete and then work on ways to optimize them.
In the above scenario, working in Photoshop might take up the bulk of your time. So, it would be in your best interest to cultivate your skills with the program in order to become more efficient. As you improve, you'll be able to handle more projects within a single workday, which can help you make significantly more money.
It can often be intimidating to look at something as a whole. For example, many people never pursue their interest in learning how to play an instrument since the entire process seems so difficult.
The same can be said about freelancers as they work on large projects.
It's not uncommon for freelance professionals to end up in disarray simply because they aren't sure where to start. But, segmenting larger projects into smaller sections is often all that needs to be done to make it far more manageable.
You can break a large project down into smaller tasks, assign different segments to different days, etc. As you progress, the remainder of the project will seem far less daunting than it originally had.
Hectic's aforementioned project management tool is the perfect way to help break things down. With a few large projects in your portfolio, you will significantly increase the number of freelance opportunities you have in the future.
This level of myopia doesn't apply only to individual projects, though. By focusing too much on your performance on a specific day, you can easily begin to feel overwhelmed or work well into the evening in order to complete necessary tasks.
But, this type of lifestyle isn't sustainable and could easily create a cycle where you are constantly making up for the previous day's missed work.
By taking a step back and looking at the entire week as a whole, you can use the remainder of it to make up for a lapse in performance on a specific date.
For instance, let's assume that an emergency arose on a Tuesday and you didn't get any work done at all. By completing a bit of extra work during the rest of your workdays within the week, you'll be able to accommodate this lost productivity and end the week where you should.
Depending on what type of freelance career you're involved in, you could even focus on the entire month as opposed to a single week. In this case, you would set a monthly goal and then strive to hit certain metrics.
It's easier than you think to overreach in terms of workload. Freelancers often jump at the opportunity to secure more work and have little issue with taking upon an extra project here and there. But, this type of behavior could easily lead to becoming overwhelmed.
This is especially true during the early stages of your freelance career where you haven't developed the awareness to know what you're capable of yet.
If you burden yourself with too many projects, you'll inevitably end up sacrificing a notable amount of free time. This will typically occur on weekends, too, which can prevent you from interacting with family members, friends, or pursuing hobbies. This also comes with the risk of mental health consequences.
Additionally, you might encounter difficulty completing all of your ongoing projects by their respective deadlines. Not only could this result in you not getting paid, but it will also damage your reputation as a professional.
Keeping track of your ongoing projects will give you an objective look at how much more work you could feasibly handle.
As initially mentioned, the freedom associated with freelance careers is the most enticing attribute that people pursue.
Having too much freedom, though, is often a bad thing. To facilitate the longevity of your career, you need to create a schedule that works for you. Fortunately, you still have a high amount of flexibility when it comes to when you work.
Some people work best early in the morning, while others are most efficient late at night after everyone else has gone to sleep. Regardless of when you're most productive, it's important to outline a block of time during your workdays to dedicate to your projects.
As time goes on, you can make small adjustments to your schedule in order to make it more accommodating. Eventually, you'll develop a personal system that allows you to get as much work done in as little time as possible.
Be sure, though, that you hold yourself accountable when it comes to following your schedule. It will only work for you as much as you let it, so do your best to stay on track after you set one.
So, be sure that you take full advantage of them. From here, these time management tips will help you maximize your overall productivity and catapult your freelance career to new heights.
Want to learn more about what we have to offer? Feel free to reach out to us today and see how we can help.