Working for yourself is a dream come true.
It can come with some challenges as well.
Are you actually going to sit down and work when no one is looking over your shoulder?
You might say yes now. And these basic time management skills will help you transition into a schedule where YOU control your own time:
Set Your Goals
Without goals, time-management skills fall apart. Imagine that you were planning to run a race. In order to balance your time training for this endeavor, you’d need to know how long the race was. When it comes to freelance time tracking and time management, the concept is the same. You might have earnings-based goals. For example, you may know that you need to earn a certain amount of money each month. Then, you can break down how much time you need to work each day or how many days you must work each week to reach those goals.
Use a Planner
Freelance time tracking and management skills really require the use of a planner. Trying to remember your exact schedule in your head isn’t a sophisticated, professional approach. Some people prefer to use apps on their phones or online planning devices, and others prefer a traditional paper planner. Select a method that is comfortable for you. If you don’t love the idea of using an app to plan out your day, you don’t have to. Writing on paper for some people actually causes them to focus more on the tasks.
Plan a Work Schedule
If you haven’t started dabbling in freelancing yet, you might have a visual of how your day will go. For example, you might imagine waking up at any time, throwing on the television, lounging in a cozy pair of sweatpants and casually working when the mood strikes. This image is one that is sure to lead to failure in the freelance world. Instead, you need to plan out when you are going to work. Do not simply decide what days of the week you want to work. Determine what time you will begin and what time you will end each day.
Set Your Alarm
Your visions of the freelance life might also include sleeping until noon every day. If your industry is alive during the afternoon and evening hours, this lifestyle might work. However, regardless of when your industry comes to life, you have to make sure you’re awake for it. Freelance productivity involves waking up at the right time to get a strong start to the day.
Have a Morning Routine
Whether you actually wake up in the morning or don’t arise until the sun is on its way to the other side of the sky, you should have a routine before you begin your job. For example, many people like to have a cup of coffee and eat breakfast while they read some leisure material. Having a routine helps you to get used to when the work day is going to begin. Make sure to set a time limit for yourself. One cup of coffee can quickly turn into two and breakfast can soon transmute into lunch if you aren’t careful.
Staying focused on work is difficult for some freelancers because they don’t have scheduled breaks. In other words, they don’t know when they will be able to shift their focus away from the computer screen or other tasks. Keep in mind that even when you absolutely love your job, you will burnout if you never take a break.
Avoid Social Media and Texting
If you’re freelancing in the modern world, you are probably on the internet for at least a portion of the day, which means that temptations are literally just one click away. During your breaks, you may want to check social media if you aren’t bothered by too much computer time. Otherwise, you should make it a goal to stay off of social media while you’re working. If you are constantly browsing your social feed, you aren’t going to get work done to the best of your abilities. Depending upon what type of computer you are using, you might be able to block social media entirely. Also, put your cell phone away and disable texting on your computer. Chatting with friends all day is also tempting when you’re working at home, but remember that your ultimate goal is to freelance.
Understand Trial and Error
When you are first entering into the freelance environment, you really don’t know fully what to expect, particularly in terms of your own freelance time management habits. What you must remember is that a process of trial and error is involved at the start of many new plans. You might craft a time-management plan that seems infallible, only to discover that it does not actually work in reality. Don’t feel as though you are married to this plan. While you certainly do want to get into a routine, know that it may take a few weeks or so to figure out exactly what works best for you.
Stick to Your Schedule
Now, once you have found a schedule that works for you, you must stick with it. While emergencies and exceptions do arise, you should not get into a habit of constantly making exceptions for yourself. For example, imagine that you have chosen to work seven hours every Monday. A friend asks if you’d like to go to the zoo in the middle of the day on a Monday, which will interfere with your freelancing schedule. Remember that if you were working in an office, you could not just leave for hours in the middle of the day to visit the local zoo. Treat your job as you would treat any other job. It’s useful to have flexibility in the event that an emergency or a true exception does come into fruition, but you don’t want to abuse this ability.
If you aren’t producing as much as you would like, poor time-management skills could be the cause. Figure out how much work you can perform in the amount of time that you’re currently allocating to work endeavors. This type of self-evaluation and investigation can certainly reveal how many more hours per week you need to put into the job. On the other hand, you may also discover that you aren’t making the best use of your time and by revising some habits, you could have more free time.