To get the most out of your life as a freelancer, you need to learn how to manage your time effectively when freelancing. While everyone is different and will employ a variety of techniques to keep on top of their ongoing projects, it’s vital that you get organized and use your time efficiently.
When you’re working on the clock and being paid by a company, you’re not overly concerned with how productive you are. But when you charge an hourly rate for your services, it’s so important that you use your time appropriately so you can earn your target income every day, week, and month.
But how do you manage your time effectively? Are there any time management tips that freelancers can utilize? In this post, we introduce you to six simple ways you can improve your time management skills as a freelancer to ensure you strike an ideal balance between work and the other aspects of your life.
Work to a schedule.
There’s a common misconception circulating that freelancers just work whenever they like and don’t follow a set pattern. While this is true to an extent, the first step to effectively managing your time as a freelancer is deciding when you’re going to work.
Whether you want to follow a conventional 9-5, five-day-a-week pattern is totally up to you. Maybe you want to schedule your work around the school runs, or perhaps you only want to work in the evenings as you attend college lectures during the day.
It really doesn’t matter what your work schedule is, just as long as you have one. You can change it week to week, depending on your availability and other plans, or you can stick to it religiously. Whatever you decide, just make sure you follow a schedule, or you will find time easily runs away from you, and it will be difficult to motivate yourself to complete your projects.
Give yourself time off.
It’s unsustainable for anyone to work every single day. You need time away from your desk to be with your family and friends and to explore the world in any way that you choose. One of the best things about life as a freelancer is that you can choose your working hours and plan the rest of your life accordingly.
There’s no right or wrong amount of time to take off every week, but you need to make sure you take some downtime to recharge your batteries. When you’re planning your weekly schedule, keep an appropriate amount of time free, so you can put your feet up and watch Netflix or head out to play football with your buddies.
While you might tell yourself that you could be earning money in your downtime if you don’t afford yourself any time to enjoy the money that you earn, what’s the point of earning it in the first place?!
Track your hours.
Although you don’t have a boss that will shout at you if you log on to your computer a couple of hours later than you planned, you still need to keep track of the amount of time you actually work. Why? Because it’s vital when it comes to planning your hourly rate and charging your clients.
Consider using a tool like Clockify, where you can log the amount of time you spend on your various projects every day. Using a simple timer, the app allows you to clock in and out and track your billable hours.
When you reflect on the hours that you’ve worked, you can then think about what is appropriate to charge your future clients for your time. This is the best way to work towards your desired hourly rate and to earn the money that you need to live comfortably.
Learn the power of saying no.
In the early days of your career as a freelancer, you might feel like saying yes to every single request. Even if you’re working at full capacity or don’t need to take on any new clients at the time, it can be so hard to say no and refuse work.
But, as you will come to learn, saying no is extremely important when it comes to time management. Not only will you have to turn down projects that you can’t feasibly take on, but you will also have to say no to certain requests from clients that fall outside of your offer.
You need to be assertive and assured of the scope of your services and turn down any requests that are made that will cause you to work above and beyond what has been paid for by your client.
Articulate the scope of your service when invoicing for your time.
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. It’s your responsibility as a freelancer to accurately articulate what is [and in some cases, what isn’t] included in the scope of your services.
For instance, if you’re a writer, make sure you clearly state how many words are included in your writing package. Also, if your client expects you to undertake keyword research to help their post rank, be sure to inform them that you charge extra for this service, as it takes time to find the appropriate keywords.
Don’t be worried about being clear with your clients about what is included in your offer. If you’re upfront and clear from the start, you won’t face any unexpected questions or requests later when they review your delivery.
Use a project planning tool.
Most freelancers work on multiple projects simultaneously for a variety of clients. As such, it can get confusing when developing your work schedule, particularly in regard to setting project priorities to ensure you meet your upcoming deadlines.
To help you manage your time, think about utilizing a project planning tool like Trello, so you can upload all of your ongoing projects and coordinate your upcoming deadlines.
The user-friendly interface ensures that you can easily track your projects and plan your week in advance. If you’re particularly creative, you could even design your own project planning tool and update it manually every week.
To build a successful career as a freelancer, you will need to learn how to manage your time effectively. If you don’t stay on top of your projects, you run the risk of missing deadlines and upsetting your clients, which is a position that no freelancer wants to find themselves in.
Hopefully, by embracing some [or all] of the tips shared in this post, you will be able to improve your time management skills and get the most out of the freelancer lifestyle.