3 Time Management Pointers for Aspiring Freelancers
By Angela Ruth
Making sure you arrange adequate time to accomplish your work is crucial to having a successful freelancing career.
Time yourself and have a backup plan (like hire someone under you) to help you remain on track.
There are several advantages to transitioning from a salary to a freelance position. When you work as a freelancer, you may choose your own hours and, in certain situations, demand a greater hourly fee than you would as a salaried employee. What's the end result? A healthier balance in your bank account.
When you work for yourself, though, it's critical to manage your time well. Take it from someone who has worked as a full-time freelancer for a long time. The key to making a reasonable living is setting aside enough time to work and putting those hours to good use. If you're new to the world of freelancing, here are a few pointers to get you started.
1. Create a weekly work schedule at the beginning of each week.
Your schedule one week may be quite different from your schedule the following week.
For example, with children, some weeks, you may have responsibilities such as after-school activities that you will need to fit into your calendar. Rather than sticking to a strict timetable, adjust your working schedule at the start of each week. Mix it up a little if the same routine becomes too boring.
In any case, make it a point to set aside a certain amount of work hours each week. Write down how many hours you'll need to work — determined by how rapidly you work and your earning objectives. Sometimes you may have to schedule time early in the morning or late at night while your children are sleeping. I keep a list on a spreadsheet of how long I "think" the project will take, and then the next column is "actual time spent." In this way, you will begin to adjust the work hours needed correctly.
Working during off-hours isn't always ideal, but it's occasionally required — especially if you are an entrepreneur just trying to get ahead. Knowing what hours you are meant to be working helps keep you on track in either case.
2. Work in a distraction-free environment.
Avoiding distractions is an essential part of good time management.
While at work, make it a point to switch off your phone. In this way, incoming text messages and other pings and disruptions don't distract you. It's especially crucial to avoid distractions during the week — when you have fewer hours to devote to your work.
3. Have a contingency plan in case something goes wrong.
You can set a goal for yourself to work a specific amount of hours each week, only to have it hindered. For example, if you were getting kids out the door earlier this week, you received word that school would be closed for the day for a strange reason. Suddenly, the six hours of work planned for that day were reduced to four and a half because children can self-entertainment. You just need to set them up with activities and prepare meals for them.
To make up for missed hours, a good backup plan usually entails waking up early on weekends.
It's possible that your backup plan will be different.
To be clear, if your job isn't particularly severe, a backup plan may not be necessary. However, the key to being a successful freelancer is being dependable and adhering to your client's deadlines.
So, if you're approaching a week when you know you'll require 40 hours at your desk to meet client deadlines, you'll need to work out when you'll be able to fit in extra hours if things go wrong.
Being a freelancer has its drawbacks, but it can also be quite rewarding. It's okay to experiment with different schedules and work hours if you're new to freelancing. However, it may take some time to get into a pattern that suits you.
Time is everything and nothing
When it comes to time, we're all in the same chronological boat. The pauper and the poet, the captain and the crook; no one gets more than twenty-four hours in a day. No matter who you are. Maybe you can make the sun can stand still, as it did in the Bible — but you can't make the clock stand still.
Like the tide, it waits for no one. Like the moon, it waxes and wanes but is never done influencing things — meaning all things in your life are influenced by time. The first rule of ANY business — Learn.To.Master.Time!
The story is told of a business person who tried to save spare minutes in a jar. At the end of the year, they opened the lid of their jar to gloat over their saved time, only to find that all the hoarded minutes had turned into nothing but dust and dim memories.
What a waste! Live each moment, pluck each minute, caress the fleeting hours. When time presses, you can't really walk away. But try to take time to relax — Take a nap — But then get up and work faster — show "time" who's the boss.