According to a recent survey by Freelancer Map, the average freelancer works approximately 47 hours every week. While this might not seem like an unachievable number of hours, it’s certainly more than the typical 40-hour workweek that many are accustomed to.
One of the reasons freelancers are motivated to work longer is that time is money in the self-employed world. In salaried roles, you’re typically paid regardless of your productivity. As a self-employed freelancer, you don’t get paid if you don’t put in the hours.
With this in mind, we thought it would be interesting to explore whether the ‘work smarter, not harder’ rule applies to gigsters. To make our case, we introduce some tips on how to reinvent your work schedule as a freelancer, so you don’t have to work every hour under the sun to earn your keep.
To work smarter, you need to adapt your mindset.
Hard work is essential to the success of any freelancer. If you’re not prepared to graft and put in the hours, you won’t be successful – it’s the same in every industry and aspect of life. But working hard doesn’t mean you need to burn the midnight oil.
At RadialHub, we believe freelancers can achieve success by working smarter and adapting their mindsets to reflect the pressures of their work schedules. What we mean by this is considering and utilizing the tools at your disposal to make your work life more manageable.
Look to the gig economy for help.
Just because you’re self-employed, it doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. It’s helpful to look at your life as a freelancer as a business, and every business needs the right help in order to thrive.
Most freelancers are responsible for their daily core projects, as well as a host of other essential tasks, including accountancy, admin, web development, social media management, blogging, marketing, and so on.
These additional but essential tasks add a huge burden to your work schedule as a freelancer, so it makes sense to outsource them wherever possible. Look to hire a virtual assistant, accountant, and someone to update your social media platforms, for instance.
The time and effort you will save will enable you to focus more time on your core projects and will almost certainly be a worthwhile return on your investment.
Understand that you don’t need to accept every project in freelancing.
One thing that many freelancers struggle with is turning down work. At the end of the day, it’s a special feeling when someone is willing to pay you to complete a project, and it can be extremely difficult to say no.
But here’s the thing – to work smarter as a freelancer, you need to learn the power of saying no. Sometimes, a project won’t fit with your interests or skills, and you take it on begrudgingly just so you don’t disappoint your client.
Yet doing so is detrimental. Not only will it cause you stress, but it will eat away at time that you could have used to focus on another project.
The liberating art of saying no to projects that don’t fit your portfolio, skills, or interests will free up your time to focus on tasks that tick your boxes. This will enable you to be more productive in the long run.
Set and stick to office hours.
When you earn per hour or project, it’s incredibly tempting to sit at your desk for 12+ hours every day and watch the money roll in. But this is totally unsustainable.
To be your best as a freelancer, you need to set and stick to office hours that work for you. For instance, you might want to work four days per week for ten hours each day. Alternatively, you might be happy to do six half days each week, so you have your afternoons free to head to the beach!
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what your office hours look like; it just matters that you stick to them. Neglecting a set work pattern will almost certainly lead to burnout and will negatively impact the quality of your deliveries.
You owe it to yourself – and your clients – to ascertain your daily work routine and stick to it. This is a fundamental aspect of working smarter, not harder, and will allow you to enjoy success as a freelancer for the foreseeable future.
While we acknowledge that it’s tempting for freelancers to burn the midnight oil and work for every waking hour, it’s not necessary. Yes, hard work is crucial, but you can adapt your mindset to ensure you’re clever with your daily work routine.
By following the tips we introduced above, we would say that yes – the work smarter, not harder rule can very much apply to freelancers.