Time is the most precious resource we have, for it cannot be replenished. However, if you are a freelancer, effective time management isn’t simply helpful – it is essential for accomplishing anything at all. A freelancer has to divide attention between several projects from different clients, while simultaneously looking for new work. There are no fixed hours and bosses – a freelancer has to be their own boss, project manager, and accountant. So, how can a freelancer use time more effectively?
1. Stifle Distractions
Distractions are bad enough in the office, but when you work at home, where nobody controls what you are doing but yourself, it is ten times worse. You may think you are responsible and self-interested enough not to waste your time on God-knows-what when you are supposed to work, but the truth is, for most people, complete freedom is too much to handle. You will inevitably sneak a glance or two on your favorite websites, drift to social networks, check your email every five minutes – different people have different favorite distractions, but the Internet is possibly the worst offender. However, with a little bit of determination, you can greatly decrease the amount of harm these distractions cause. Install a browser plugin like LeechBlock to block yourself from visiting the most distracting websites, create a separate profile for work, and uninstall distracting apps from your smartphone.
2. Track Your Time
We tend to not value our time because we don’t notice how it escapes through our fingers. Time tracking, in addition to its more direct purpose of defining billable hours, can greatly add to your appreciation of time. When you know exactly how much time is spent on this or that activity and have to write down how long you’ve spent on social networks and such, you will suddenly become aware how inefficiently you use your most important resource. Install a time-tracking software like thedailytracker.com and you will be amazed how eager you will be to do more in less time.
3. Choose Clients Carefully
There is only so much one person can do. Therefore, when you get successful enough in your field, there comes a time when you have to start turning down work. It may be painful, especially when you still remember how hard it was to find any work at all, but it is necessary. Smaller projects and projects that don’t go hand in hand with your general line of work just aren’t worth spending time on. The good strategy is to concentrate on several well-paying customers regularly giving you large orders while still looking for better variants.
4. Schedule Your Distractions
A good way to get rid of distractions during work hours is to allocate some time for them every day, preferably at the same time. When you go through your day with the knowledge that you will have half an hour to spend doing nothing but lazily skimming through your favorite sites, you are less likely to get distracted every five minutes to steal a glance at one of them.
5. Compartmentalize Your Time
The human brain needs time to switch gears from one task to another – for the first 15-30 minutes of working on a particular task, you won’t be functioning at full effectiveness. This means that it is better to break up your time in large blocks dedicated to particular tasks than to switch from one kind of work to another every now and then.
Being a freelancer is a tough test of your self-control and self-discipline. However, if you are capable of successfully controlling yourself, the difference between a middling and excellent performance will be far greater than with your average 9-to-5 job.
Featured photo credit: time/uditha wickramanayaka via flickr.com