Time is your main currency when you're a freelancer. Sounds like an over-used cliche? If you're in the freelancing game for more than a month, you probably understand by now that this statement does more than sound overused.
If nothing drastically changes in the upcoming years, a day will always have 24 hours. You need to sleep, eat, work, take care of yourself, travel, hang out with friends… and all you have is those 24 hours. Each day, you have approximately 8 to 10 hours of work and 3 to 5 hours of deep productivity - it's how you use these hours that differentiates good freelancers from the unprofitable ones.
No worries, we're going to give you a hand and make you a master of time-management.
You can't avoid them, to-do lists are a must-have. At least when you like it organized and planned.
The biggest mistake most freelancers make is they create to-do lists out of everything and completely decentralize their workflow. One freelancer can use several tools - Trello for tasks, Asana for project management, Evernote/Google Docs for notes, Messenger or Slack for communication, and hand-written notes. This means there's a high probability that you won't have every information you need in one place when you need it.
This means you have your tasks all over the place and at the same time, absolutely nowhere.
If you're into to-do lists, that makes it all easier, just please make sure you use one centralized tool or another platform where you can be sure all tasks are documented.
You know what's worse than running late for a meeting? Loooooong to-do lists. And they demotivate too.
If you want to give yourself some psychological boost and feel that you're actually working and getting things done, keep those to-do lists short and on point. The best list is a clear, an ideally empty, list.
If you mix tons of tasks into one list, all you do is frustrate yourself whenever you look into it.
One of the most useful things you can do to manage your time right is to use a time tracker to optimize how much time you spend on concrete activities.
This way, you can clearly see where you're being inefficient and even plan out your day accordingly. Many professionals love to do the creative work before lunch and leave easier or less creative tasks for the afternoon. But you can't do this if you decide to plan based on pure feeling. Time tracker will help you make good decisions.
The environment you work in impacts your work efficiency more than you can imagine. That's why many freelancers work from co-working spaces and not from home.
If you're sensitive and easily distracted, pick a place where you can easily focus on your work. During the week, you can spend hours being distracted. When you calculate it in loss of profit, this realization can be pretty painful.
Even if you have to spend some money on an office or a fixed desk or a membership in open-space, it pays off almost immediately.
Worried about huge projects? The first thing you should do is to break the big tasks into smaller ones. The next thing is to make sure that these tasks can be completed in the short-term so that you have a constant feeling you're moving forward with your work.
Project management had its own renaissance in the 20th century, however, everyone forgets about the biggest time-savers in the game - process management.
Everything you repeat at least once a month, process it. Simply make a process out of the activity.
All you need to do to create a process is to break down an activity into a few steps (we recommend to keep it under 15 steps) and create a list of these steps in logical order. Suddenly, you don't need to think twice about how to do that concrete activity, you stop forgetting about concrete steps or you can even delegate it to another person.
What's more, you can even optimize processes for better results.
Sharing posts on social media, acquiring customers, backing up data or cleaning up files on your computer are all processes you can start doing today.
There's a ceiling to everything
Even when you manage your time like a pro, you will hit a ceiling at some point. Well, you're not a robot, you can't work 24/7. And we hope you don't want to :).
Firstly, try tools that can make you even more efficient and give you the bigger picture of planning and organizing your business. And the second thing is surrounding yourself with other awesome freelancers like you. You can't even make a team, approach bigger clients, land more complex deals and get more done.
But that's for another article.
First, try out our tips and let us know how they work for you.