How to best manage your time as a freelancer

Time management is essential for all freelancers. We explain how to best mange your time as a freelancer with useful tips, tricks, and tools.

How to best manage your time as a freelancer

The average freelancer works about 36 hours a week, reports Business News Daily. However, it's not uncommon to see freelancers who work at least 40 hours per week. Some days are busier than others, and you may find yourself staying up late to get things done.

But how come some people manage to tick all the boxes on their to-do list, while others are always behind work? After all, everyone has the same 24 hours in a day.

It all comes down to how you manage your time as a freelancer. What matters most is to schedule your tasks in a way that allows you to get things done while still maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Not sure where to start? Below are some simple time management tips to help you stay organized so you never miss a deadline again.

Create a morning routine

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and other successful people have one thing in common: they follow a morning routine. Some meditate or work out every morning, while others take the time to enjoy a healthy breakfast.

Your morning routine sets the tone for the day ahead. If you wake up late and start working right away, you'll likely end up feeling tired and burned out. This will not only affect your mood but also hurt your productivity and work performance.

Here's one of the best time management tips you'll ever get: create a morning routine and stick to it. Plan things out the night before, eat a balanced breakfast, and make time for exercise.

Research shows that physical activity can boost brainpower and mental health. At the same time, it energizes your body and stimulates the release of "feel-good" chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin. In the long, it can make you more productive.

Try to exercise first thing in the morning to fully reap these benefits. Wake up 15 to 20 minutes earlier so that you have enough time for a quick workout.

Prioritize your tasks

A good to-do list can make it easier to stay organized and focused. Plus, it can free up your time and help you achieve a better work-life balance.

To get started, assess your workload and highlight the most important tasks. Break large tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks, and then set deadlines for each item on your list.

Depending on your preferences, you can create one or more lists. Here are some examples:

  • A weekly list for ongoing projects
  • A master list for bigger projects and long-term goals
  • A high-impact tasks list for projects and activities with tight deadlines
  • A "done" list

Assign due dates to each task, except for those on your "done" list. Set the due date a few days ahead of the "official" deadline. This way, you'll still be able to complete the task on time if something goes wrong.

Also, remember that you can always use project management tools to keep track of your tasks. Hectic makes it easy to create and manage your to-do list so you can stay on top of deadlines.

Tackle the most difficult tasks first

When you complete the easiest tasks first, you get a false sense of progress. On top of that, you're more likely to end up postponing the hardest tasks and miss the deadline.

The experts at Northwestern University recommend tackling the most challenging tasks first. This strategy can make you more productive and reduce stress in the long run. Plus, your other tasks will seem a lot easier after you complete the most difficult ones.

Let's say you need to write a 10-page white paper and five short blog posts for a client. Writing five blog posts may seem like a lot of work, but it requires less mental focus than writing a white paper. The latter takes more time and energy.

Start with the white paper and then do the rest. Once you have completed the hardest task, squeeze some "me" time into your schedule. Go out for a walk, order a pizza, or watch your favorite TV show to get a mental break.

Learn to say no

When you're freelancing, your workload fluctuates throughout the year. There are days when you have little or no work to do, and days when you're so busy that you barely have time to blink. Naturally, you want to take on more clients to ensure a steady flow of work.

However, that's not always the best approach. If you do, you might end up having more work than you can handle. This can hurt your work performance and prevent you from giving your best.

Set a limit on the number of clients or projects you take at once. Consider the amount of work, time, and effort required for each project.

If something grabs your attention but you're short on time, consider asking for an extended deadline.

Work in sprints

Your productivity and energy levels are highest at certain times of the day. For example, some people feel productive in the morning, while others are night owls.

Considering these aspects, try to identify and maximize your most productive hours. Think of it as a window of opportunity. Schedule work sprints in this time interval to get more done.

If, say, you're most productive between 8 AM and 11 AM, tackle your most challenging tasks within this period.

Learn to manage your time as a freelancer

When you're a freelancer, you have the flexibility to make your schedule, but this can work against you—especially if you have a tendency to procrastinate. That's why it's important to have a to-do list, set deadlines, and track your time.

Hectic can make everything easier. Our platform offers everything you need to manage your time as a freelancer. Sign up today to get the most out of your work hours and consistently crush deadlines!