One of the great things about having a freelance business is more freedom of time. But this may only be the case if you learn to manage your time well. Freelancer time management can be a challenge when you lack boundaries and focus — in the freelance world, the more hours you work, the more income you tend to make, which is why it can be easy to overwork yourself.
In the end, the goal is to grow your business to a point where you have a steady stream of clients and are managing your time for each of them well. With good time management, you will end up with happier clients and more free time to use as you desire.
Here are some important freelance time management tips for growing a successful business with healthy boundaries and more freedom.
As freelancers, we often may feel like we need to take every job and do all the things requested of us. And in the beginning, it may be necessary. But as you increase your skills and begin to see the areas you enjoy the most and are the best at, you can get more selective. If you lack focus, it is easy to take on jobs that are far too time-consuming for the compensation.
Practice evaluating jobs and see if you can determine how much time and energy they will take. Along those lines, you also want to get good at screening clients to make sure you can offer the best service when you are working together. Make sure you are a good fit for each other.
Treat your business like a business and take it seriously. You may even want to develop a business plan you can review as needed.
You likely have deadlines as a freelancer, but essentially you are the one in charge of your day. That means that you are responsible for how you spend that time and set up your days and weeks. A schedule is not the most thrilling topic, especially for creatives, but the truth is having one can actually give you more freedom.
Create a schedule that works for you and is unique to you and the work you do. Put Parkinson's law in your favor. Parkinson’s law states that work expands to fill up the time allotted for it. Try working with a block calendar system and estimate how long it will take to do a task. Create a time block for just that amount and get it done.
It is helpful to track your time for a while to see what tasks you are wasting the most time on and where and when you are getting the most distracted. This brings up the next tip.
Ridding yourself of distractions is crucial. Distractions can break a freelance career, and there are multiple points of distraction freelancers commonly face.
You may have distractions in your physical environment, such as:
Then there are the online distractions. Online distractions can include:
You can stop distractions by preparing your environment for work. Even if you do not have a dedicated office space, make a clean, quiet area you can work in, even if it is just the corner of a room. Get help with the children and pets if you need it.
For online distractions, you can turn off notifications and even block certain sites with an app. You can also try noise-canceling headphones if your environment is too noisy.
You can gamify your freelance business and make life more fun by setting goals and rewarding yourself for the little wins throughout the day. Turn your tasks into a game by seeing how fast you can complete your projects without losing the quality of your work. You could also see how long you can go without being distracted. Use tools such as those available from Fiverr Workspace to track your time and work.
You could create a goal chart or even a point system for yourself with rewards. This works because it hits the emotional triggers in our brains and can turn mundane tasks into something more exciting. Also, celebrating little ones can keep us more in tune with our purpose and why we are freelancing. Tracking progress also gives us great feedback and helps us grow.
No, we don’t mean closing the deal, though that is important too. We're talking about how you choose to close the workday. Working as a freelancer and from home can mean that your work easily spills over into your life. Your evenings are now spent answering emails, and you feel on call twenty-four seven. It’s not healthy. And it can make your clients not respect you as a business.
Creating a transition routine to go from work to home can help you better manage your business and life. Whatever time you choose to work when you work best, set yourself some regular hours. Determine how many hours you will spend on client projects and what time you will stop and try to stick to it. Then create a transition routine. Maybe it is a quick last check of emails. Maybe you evaluate what went well for those working hours and what you need to improve on. Maybe it is writing your three most important tasks down on a sticky note that need to get done the next day.
However you choose to work, be sure to set boundaries and expectations for yourself and be clear with your clients about those boundaries. A virtual assistant can help you with tasks to keep your business running while you focus on clients. Follow these tips and enjoy your thriving freelance life.