A 2020 statistic showed that 59 million people were freelancing. There are no signs of this number decreasing anytime soon, especially while more jobs embrace hybrid and remote working situations for good. As a brand new freelancer, you might forget to pay attention to one of the biggest components to freelancing successfully: time management. Just as a project manager is key to a successful project outcome, you’re going to have to do a bit of this for your own freelancing business to become successful. So, what are some tips and tricks for better time management? We’ve got some ideas…
1. Use a time tracking app.
If you’ve been freelancing for a while, you already know how important a handy time-tracking app can help you keep track of the minutes and hours you work for invoicing purposes. Toggl and Clockify are two of our personal favorites, but we’re sure that apps like these will only get more advanced over time. See what we did there? Toggl makes it possible to filter by client and gain insights on how long it takes for each of your projects. This will help you with our third tip (more on that later). Keeping track of your time as a freelancer is, in short, imperative to monitoring your work/life balance and the success of your business.
2. Take breaks, just like you would in an office.
It’s easy for freelancers to think that breaks don’t make money and we’re here to squash that idea. You need to take frequent breaks for your health and well-being, period. We recommend using something like the Pomodoro timer to ensure you’re getting up for water and stretching every 20 minutes. You need to plan time to take a full lunch break, too! Apps like Reclaim help you block off your time for lunch and other things like doctor’s appointments while monitoring how much time you spend in meetings. This way you can set better boundaries around time to resist burnout. And if you’re full-time freelancing for a client (that’s 40+ hours a week), or have full day rates dedicated to one client, yes, you should charge that client for your breaks.
3. Know how long common tasks take and don't over-promise.
This will come with time, but it’s handy to know the amount of time it will take for you to complete a job, even smaller tasks. If you’re tracking your time, you’ll start to notice how long it takes to design an email or write a blog article, for example. Then you can price out your projects better and pad in a little time for insurance. This way you won’t over-promise a client more time than you realistically have. If you complete the job in less time than you said, you get to keep your sanity while looking good. BTW, any client who disregards your time boundaries isn’t worth the hustle. It’s okay to say no to clients who expect more in an impossibly short amount of time. You are more important than that added anxiety and stress on your health.
4. Have your own project management system.
A time tracker can easily be incorporated into a time management system like Asana, ClickUp, and Monday, but the added benefit of a project management app will let you take on many clients simultaneously while keeping track of deadlines, emails, and more. Google calendar might be all you need, especially if you don’t have many clients to juggle. Take advantage of its new focus time feature, too, that blocks anyone from scheduling meetings over your deep creative time.
5. Clear away distractions.
First, know what distracts you. Personal email can be a big time-suck. So can many texts from friends or family that aren’t dire and urgent. And social media? This is extra hard if it’s a crucial part of your job (like being a Social Media Manager). Set time limits around each of these distractions. Whether it’s an hour in the morning or fifteen minutes in between projects, divvy up your day to allow for these moments so your distractions don’t vie for your client time. Second, make sure your workspace allows for productive work. Whether you set up a home office or head to work in a remote space, have a plan that allows for the best environment that makes working easy and distraction-free. Third, set limits and block notifications for big chunks in the day. Because, seriously, all those Slacks in the #general or #random channels don’t need your immediate attention.
We hope these tips and tricks can help you manage your time effectively and create a stress-free freelancing business of your own. If you’re a freelance creator and are looking for more clients, we can help!