One of the biggest advantages of working as a freelancer is the ability to manage your time and available hours. Effective time management seems to elude almost every freelancer at one point or another. Freelance writers, who don’t manage their time efficiently, run the risk of missing client appointments and deadlines, having to work well into the night hours to fulfill client assignments, and neglecting important business building activities like social media marketing and public engagement.
Stop the Time Terrorist
Poor time management will eventually have a deleterious effect on your freelance business. This may result in you having to find an office job. Those two words – office job – strike a dreadful fear in the hearts of most freelancers. If you follow a few basic tips, you can keep the time terrorist, and the office job, at bay.
1. Set regular working hours and days
If you have a family and children, choose a schedule that works around theirs. You may get more done if you work while your children attend school so you can attend to them when they get home. But, even if you don’t have kids and you live alone you still need to set regular hours and days for your business. Otherwise, you might get side-tracked by chores left undone or tempted to run weekly errands, causing you to miss out on socializing and relaxation time.
2. Organize your workspace for time efficiency
Creating a neatly organized and dedicated workspace will help save you from the time terrorist. Configure your office space so that all your frequently accessed items lie within arms length of your chair.
Store currently active files in a desk file drawer or place a two-drawer filing cabinet right next to your desk. You can set your printer on top of the file furniture for easy access as well. Place any frequently used reference books and manuals on shelves next to your chair.
A conveniently organized space will make you more likely to put things where they belong after use. File client files and associated notes away in the proper place immediately after use.
3. Schedule your daily tasks realistically
Schedule the next day’s tasks at the end of each day. To do this properly, you’ll need to know your production rate for different types of projects. Schedule out assignments and projects to finish by deadline assuming your calculated rate of production. Set a timer when you engage in social media. It’s easy to get carried away on Twitter, Facebook, or any other popular platform.
4. Minimize distractions
Turn off the television and talk radio programs. If it helps you work, play some motivating music at a moderate to low volume, but use a CD or downloaded music. The frequent radio commercials will distract you, sucking up your productive time.
Close your email client and turn the phone ringer off while working on assignments. Block out a set time each day to answer emails and return phone calls. Set your timer for these two time terrorist favorites so you won’t get lost in non-urgent emails and calls.
Close your office doors during work requiring focus and concentration, such as when actively researching and writing for a client assignment. This keeps any family members or raucous pets that happen by from paying a friendly visit and introducing a time terrorist opportunity.
Manage Your Time, Avoid the Dreadful Office Job
These very basic time management tips will give you a great start to mastering the art of efficient time management. You’ll still need time tracking software of some sort to track time spent on project based on an hourly rate. As your business grows and your expertise deepens, your schedule will need tweaking and maybe a little flexibility. But for the first six months of your new freelance career, or even if you’ve been in business for awhile and had one too many visits from the time terrorist, follow your set schedule and time constraints strictly. This will build the foundation for effective time management and set the stage for the healthy growth of your client base.
Photo credit: realmagick dot com