As a freelancer multi tasking different projects everyday, you have to make sure that you are very organized and efficient in the use of your limited time. Time management is especially important for freelancers. Millions of professionals have chosen to run their career as freelancers for different reasons whether in search of work- life balance, flexibility or a sense of entrepreneurship. Whatever the reason, the need for being organized is essential.
Although freelancing has many benefits it also has many challenges. Here is a list of some of these challenges that are specific to the life of a freelancer:
♦ Not knowing where your next pay check will come from
♦ Having to be an expert in many different fields such as marketing, administration and finance in order to run your operation
♦ Continuously having to learn about a new company, culture, and industry
♦ Being alone a lot of the time
♦ Applying self discipline in managing your time
The irony is that many professionals have decided to become freelancers because they are in search of work- life balance. A common misconception is that this means working less hours in order to enjoy life. But the truth is that freelancers end up working more hours than regular full time jobs ( 6% more hours – The Economist ) because they have no regular schedule, are bombarded with continuous deadlines, take on more than they can really supply and most of the time, are not prepared to manage different projects at the same time . The reality is that the life balance comes from the possibility of arranging their schedule at their convenience not from working less hours.
So how can you ensure that you have flexibility and time to enjoy other dimensions of life outside of work? The answer is Time Management. You need to develop the necessary skills to be efficient with each available hour that you dedicate to working. Here are seven tips that will help you:
Value your time
Not all freelancers have a conscious notion of the value of their time. Perhaps you are used to a full time paying job, or you are an artist from the core and not focused on schedules, or perhaps you don’t know how to say NO to demanding clients. The truth is that a significant portion of freelancers don’t think of their hours in terms of money.
Have a Plan
Have a plan for each project with deadlines and clear end products/deliverables. Breakdown the project into smaller deliverables.
Review your plan on a regular basis to assess risks and prevent going over the deadline and budget. Build backup scenarios if necessary.
Define today’s objectives
Establish clear objectives for the day. Define the end product that you will be producing at the end of each day.
Prioritize your deliverables
Now that you have a clear notion of the value of your time, you should prioritize your projects objectively based on the potential income that will bring to you; taking into consideration short term as well as long term benefits.
Have a time management tool
Use a time tracking tool such as getklok, yanomo, or hourstracking. Some of them are even free. This will help you track the real time that you spend on each project and bill it appropriately in addition to controlling and evaluating your effort.
Don’t get distracted
Allocate specific time for the task and use it to the maximum. Block out unnecessary conversations, phone calls, emails, and family distractions.
Time management skills are fundamental to finding true work life balance. Don’t hesitate to take a formal course. You will be able to depreciate the cost throughout your fruitful freelancing career.