How to Improve Your Time Management as a Freelancer

Being a freelancer entails one very, very important thing – being your own boss.

That means handling every single aspect of getting the job done. You set project timeframes, you’re responsible for keeping up with such deadlines.

And if you’ve been a freelancer for some time, you know this aspect of the job can be quite daunting,

Time management is something that many freelance professionals struggle with, regardless of their experience level.

Effective time management is a lot more than a set of sequences or hacks.

It actually involves lots of skills, including decision-making and a good ability to prioritize key tasks.

When you’re someone else’s employee, there will be a manager responsible for determining deadlines and making sure these are met.

As a freelancer, you’ll have to go through a major transition that involves being your own manager.

If you don’t know how to handle time management and improve at it, the following guide will give you a couple of suggestions and tools to count on.

Set Manageable Deadlines

Before moving on to time management, we need to tackle one very important issue pertaining to it.

In their contracts, many freelancers set incredibly unrealistic deadlines.

This is a common issue among more inexperienced professionals. In an attempt to impress clients, such freelancers end up shooting themselves in the foot by setting timeframes that are nearly impossible.

If you don’t give yourself enough time to get the job done in the best possible way, you will struggle with time management.

It doesn’t matter how experienced or how organized you are.

Every single project and task under the sun come with a specific timeframe for completion.

Experienced professionals may require less time to handle such tasks (which will usually be reflected in the way they charge clients).

But for most, going for a very short timeframe in order to impress will spell disaster.

Don’t feel pressured by clients to complete projects super-fast. If you do, chances are that the delivery would be sub-par or your other projects will suffer.

Remember, you’re not employed by one of your clients. There are numerous projects you’ll need to be handling simultaneously.

If you’re prioritizing one of these projects in order to complete it faster, you should be getting compensated for the rush job.

Even in such instances, the deadline for completion will have to remain reasonable.

Prioritize Challenging and Time-Consuming Tasks

You may feel tempted to start out with the simplest parts of a project.

Doing so, however, means you could eventually get stuck on something much more complex.

In the end, you could also find out that it requires a lot more time than originally envisioned.

As already mentioned, knowing what to prioritize is a crucial part of good time management.

It’s a good idea to start out with the most challenging parts of a project first. This way, you could end up determining that more time would be required to handle those.

By starting early with problematic processes and jobs, you can ensure proper completion by the deadline, even if the task takes up a lot of time.

Try to come up with a project completion calendar when getting started.

Dedicate a certain amount of time to each task. As you gain more experience, setting realistic deadlines for such milestones will become a whole lot easier.

When doing such planning, it’s a good idea to keep in touch with a client.

The earlier you tell them that a certain part of a project will require more time, the more likely they’ll be to agree to a potential extension.

Telling them that you need a few additional days to get the job done when the deadline is already approaching isn’t going to make the best impression.

Get Rid of Distractions

Good time management is also about creating the right professional environment.

Did you know that the average person spends two hours and 25 minutes on social media each day? A lot of that time occurs during work hours.

Social media aren’t the only distracting temptation that stands in the way of productivity.

Many freelancers tend to work from home.

As a result, the workplace environment can be very distracting.

Children, the TV, neighbors and other everyday distractions will often make time management almost entirely impossible.

To give your clients good outcomes and stick to professional schedules, you have to get rid of distractions.

The task can be accomplished in one of two ways.

The first option is creating a distraction-free home office.

Everyone should be aware of the room’s purpose. If loved ones stay out of the workplace realm, chances are that productivity will go up almost immediately.

The second option involves getting an office or going to a co-working space.

Both of these options can work much better than a home office, especially if you’re not good at handling distractions.

Utilize a Good Time Management Tool

Even if you’re meticulous and very disciplined, it’s possible to lose track of time every once in a while.

Luckily, freelancers can rely on multiple tools and apps to ensure effective time management. Some of the best options to consider testing out include the following:

  • Hubstaff: if you choose Hubstaff, you’ll get a very effective management tool for freelance professionals and business owners.

    You’ll get access to an array of important features like time tracking for billing purposes, project budgeting and detailed reporting, online timesheet creation, scheduling, productivity monitoring, online invoicing and others.

    Hubstaff gives you access to a 14-day free trial.

    When the trial period is over, you’ll need to spend anywhere between zero and 10 dollars per user per month, depending on the specific solution that you choose.
  • Toggl: anyone who’s looking for simplicity is going to enjoy Toggl.

    Tis time management and tracking tool allows for effortless project planning and monitoring.

    Some of the key features you’ll be getting access to include detailed time reporting, workflow integration, detailed and highly customized reporting, effortless invoicing and even reminders to take a break when you’ve been working for a very long period of time.

    The basic time tracking app is available free of charge and if you’re looking for more advanced features, you may have to spend up to 18 dollars per user per month.
  • Harvest: with a cool name like that, Harvest does deliver in terms of enhanced time management.

    It’s an excellent tool you should be counting on if you want to do more thorough project tracking than other apps enable you to.

    With Harvest, you can do time tracking, get detailed reports about your performance to increase productivity, review past project data to come up with consistent trends, manage teams, do digital invoicing and automate many of the time management processes.

    Harvest is free for the first two projects you decide to manage with the app.

    If you have more projects to handle, you’ll need to spend 12 dollars per user per month.
  • TimeCamp: TimeCamp is worth checking out if you need a budget-friendly solution. It’s ideal for freelancers who need to deal with time management for the very first time.

    In the absence of experience, the app will prove to be quite valuable for enhanced delivery. Some of the key TimeCamp features include productivity and profitability tracking, team management, automatic time tracking, detailed reports and digitized invoicing.

    TimeCamp is free for a single user (but access isn’t granted to all functionalities).

    For a more extensive package, you’ll need to spend either 5.25 or 7.50 dollars per user per month.

Finally, Don’t Forget about Work-Life Balance

Here’s one final thing you need to remember as a freelancer – you’re not supposed to be at your clients’ disposal 24/7.

Good time management should also involve enforcing some work-life balance rules.

This means taking breaks often enough, having fixed work hours and knowing when to end the job for the day.

Many freelancers find themselves taking on more work than they could ever handle. As a result, they completely forsake their personal lives.

Such an approach could work in the short run but eventually, it will lead to disaster.

You see, relaxation time is important to ensure your productivity and ability to deliver.

Working all of the time will eventually affect output quality. You’ll deliver in time but will the delivery speak of your professionalism and full range of abilities.

It’s a much better idea to take on fewer projects and perform outstandingly well. By doing so, you will give yourself numerous satisfied, potentially repeat clients.

You’ll also increase the likelihood of referrals – one of the best forms of promotion.

Don’t worry about missing out on some jobs if you stick to the work-life balance schedule you’ve come up with.

Clients worth working with are going to respect your boundaries.

Remember that you’re not a machine. If you work 15 hours per day, seven days per week, you will eventually start making mistakes.

When this happens, you’ll end up losing a lot more than you would by turning down a client or two seeking for rush deliveries.

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