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12 Effective Ways for Freelancers to Manage Time

12 Effective Ways for Freelancers to Manage Time

You have to work and you have to live.

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Many people envy the lifestyle of freelancers who have a balanced life and career, but most people only see the bright side. Although working regardless of time and location can bring more convenience and freedom, it also requires strong time management skills to maintain a work-life balance. To be a good freelancer, you might as well refer to these tips mentioned in this article.

Saying goodbye to the traditional 9-to-5 job will give you an excellent opportunity to improve your work-life balance. However, if you’re not good at managing your time properly or sticking to a well-planned schedule, then this can create more challenges for you.

Throwing yourself at too many projects, overloading your schedule, and forgetting about project deadlines can all lead to burnout. The same goes for working too few or too many hours per week, or even extending your work hours into weekends or designated rest days.

Research shows that the optimal working hours per week are 35 to 50 hours. Productivity drops after 50 hours a week, and drops even more after 55 hours. Additionally, not having a full day off per week can also lead to a decrease in average output per hour.

Working continuously due to a lack of proper time management, or taking on too many projects at once, will not only hurt your productivity but also create more long-term health risks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) found that workers who work more than 55 hours a week have a 35% increased risk of stroke and, more seriously, a 17% increased risk of death from heart disease.

As a new freelancer, it’s your responsibility to take control of your schedule and time management, not only for your productivity but also for your health and well-being.

1. Control your schedule

Being a freelancer who is just starting out comes with many challenges. Things like finding new clients, meeting tight deadlines, meeting client expectations, staying on top of all your finances, and leaving yourself plenty of free time.

To take on more responsibilities, you must learn how to manage your time effectively, but more importantly, learn how to create a schedule that allows you to allocate work time, start new projects, and still have time to rest.

2. Know your abilities

One of the best ways to take control of your schedule is to understand your ability to take on new clients and projects. This is especially important because freelancers often worry that turning down a project will leave them without any new work for a while.

The fear of missing out on exciting new work can lead to you overscheduling and often not leaving enough time to actually get good work done.

The idea of ​​turning down a job or saying “no” can be daunting at first. However, you need to set limits for yourself from the beginning. Think about how much time is available on your schedule, think about the projects you are currently working on, and reference deadlines for each project.

Before taking on any new job, be sure to consider your available time in your schedule and whether the project will require you to turn down other potential job offers.

3. Manage time proactively

Now that you have more autonomy, it’s time to learn how to manage your time wisely. Establish a daily routine. Things like when to wake up, how much time to set aside for specific projects, finding new work, submitting quotes to clients, and completing chores at hand all need to be built into your schedule.

Being more proactive with your time management and designating specific blocks of time for different tasks and activities will help you be more efficient and is a way to better plan for yourself.

4. Plan, plan, plan

This cannot be emphasized enough. Planning out your days, weeks, and even months will help you realize how much time you have to spend on specific projects and how much time you have to take on new work.

Planning itself takes some time, so deciding which day of the week to start planning for the coming week is crucial. When planning, you have to take into account scheduling projects, responding to follow-up inquiries, meeting with clients, etc., and even leaving yourself enough time to rest.

We’re not saying you need to plan every hour of your day, but it’s important to work out how much time you can devote to work, but also how much time you can allocate to rest and relaxation. Remember, time is money.

5. Use project tracking tools

Keep track of your projects and deadlines using some online project tracking tools. This may seem redundant, but it can save you a lot of time and energy by letting you know exactly where you are on a project and how far away you are from the deadline.

Using online project tracking tools can help you plan accordingly, and sometimes allow you to complete the plan ahead of time. If any projects need to be reworked, you can adjust according to your plan.

Use a tool with an easy-to-use interface that lets you make changes as you go, so you can inform your clients of upcoming deadlines and allow enough time to make necessary changes or rework.

6. Establish work routines

As a freelancer, you can develop a work routine that works for you. If you work better at night than during the day, use your skills at night, but don’t forget about deadlines.

Establishing work routines can make you more responsible for your time and minimize potential distractions. With this routine, you can focus on what needs to be done now, how much time needs to be allocated to a task, and when the deadline is.

Work routines allow you to be more responsible with your time, meaning you have designated periods of time for work and time for rest or other activities.

7. Minimize distractions

Having more control over your schedule and time will make it easy for you to get distracted by other, less important things.

Distractions can be anything, anywhere, at any time, and by the time you start to realize how much time you’re spending doing unnecessary things, you’ve already lost valuable time that could be better used.

Make sure to minimize distractions, such as turning your phone to silent or turning off social media notifications. Ask people around you who may be working not to disturb you during work hours, or to schedule less important tasks for later in the day.

Sometimes you’ll want to look at your phone, browse social media, answer emails, or do other things. While no one is checking in on you, make sure you know how much time you’re spending on these tasks so you can catch up if your work falls behind schedule.

8. Do the hard tasks first

Now that you’ve planned out your work week and established a work routine, start by learning how to schedule the more critical and complex tasks first, which will get them done faster and help you free up more time on your schedule. Much time.

Tacking challenging projects first can increase productivity, help you reduce stress, and free up time to make necessary adjustments.

Taking care of the secondary, less important things first will give you a false sense of productivity, and over time, you will feel unmotivated to complete the more important projects that remain unfinished. Starting with the hardest thing will make other tasks seem easier to accomplish.

9. Arrange time for management work

People often don’t tell you about all the management-type responsibilities of a freelancer. Things like writing proposals, making quotes, responding to emails, meeting with clients, documenting financials, ordering new supplies, making edits and tweaks to projects, all while leaving enough time for yourself.

Avoiding such administrative responsibilities can be costly, so it’s best to complete these tasks during the day or even during the week.

Depending on your workload and the amount of administrative work, decide whether to do it at the beginning or end of the day. Better yet, make this type of work easier with digital tools that can help you keep track of things like finances, invoice due dates, and even email reminders.

Remember, freelancing is the same as running a small business. Ignoring management can be a costly mistake. In the long run, it will not only reduce your income, but also give you more unnecessary work.

10. Schedule designated rest days

The study found that freelancers work an average of 43 hours per week, suggesting they work similar hours to a regular 9-to-5 job. However, freelancers often work different hours and schedules. Sometimes, they may find themselves working all day; other times, every other day.

Not having a set schedule and knowing when to take a break can hurt your productivity, especially if you work more than 50 to 55 hours a week.

Create breaks where you can take a break from work. Whether it’s taking an hour-long lunch break during the day or working a little shorter on Fridays but scheduling a few hours over the weekend to catch up on work, these methods can work.

Continuously working increases the risks associated with burnout, which can lead to higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Be sure to check in with yourself and remember that a workaholic lifestyle is not healthy.

11. Prioritize projects as a Freelancer

As we mentioned, tackling larger projects before completing smaller, less important tasks will help you get more done throughout the day and motivate you as you start other projects.

However, it’s also crucial to prioritize your work when you’re signing on a new client or taking on a new assignment. While you may be tempted to start with something simple now, it’s better to save it for later, when you can focus on what you’re currently doing.

Go with the flow of your work and make sure you schedule enough time for everything during work hours. No matter how you manage your tasks and priorities, prioritizing your work will help you understand which ones are more important and which ones may require your immediate attention.

12. Make time for yourself

Even if you feel you don’t have the time, you must prioritize your happiness and health. Be sure to check in with yourself from time to time. Take time away from work, even if it’s just one day during the week, or on the weekend, and make time for yourself.

Without proper rest, your productivity, creativity, and focus will decrease. By scheduling a few hours each week to take a break or do something outside of work, you can create a healthy work-life balance that gives you enough time to work hard while making your health a priority.

It’s hard, but trust the process.

Freelancing is a great way to pursue what you love. But without proper time management and scheduling, you can become overwhelmed with work and deadlines.

Taking control of your schedule, whether on a daily or weekly basis, can help you prioritize important projects and achieve work-life balance throughout your freelancing career.

While making full use of your time, make sure you have enough time to rest and complete administrative tasks before taking on a new job. Yes, time is money, and your time is valuable, so instead of wasting it on menial tasks, set up a time management structure that matches your freelancing goals.


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