Time Management For Freelancers: How To Stay Productive
Productivity is critical for any freelancer — it can make the difference between a successful business and one that quickly fizzles out.
With so much freedom and flexibility, it’s easy to let things slide and to find yourself slacking off. Especially if you come from a more rigid, corporate background.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a marketer, salesperson, project manager, entrepreneur, developer, designer, or an online teacher. Slacking off can also lead to working longer hours, feeling stressed, and ultimately to burnout.
So how can you avoid this and make sure you stay productive as a freelancer?
In this article, we’ll give you the best freelancer tips to stay productive. We truly hope this will allow you to take your business to the next level!
Let's get right into it.
1. Establish a routine
The best way to be productive as a freelancer is to establish a solid routine and learn how to manage your schedule. This means getting up at the same time each day, taking breaks at regular intervals, and working set hours.
Of course, freelancing comes with a certain amount of flexibility, and that’s one of the great things about it. Having some structure will help you identify your time wasters at work and be more productive overall.
A general example of time management for freelancers could look something like this:
- Get up at 7 am each day
- Work from 8 am-12 pm
- Break for lunch from 12pm-1pm
- Work from 1 pm-5 pm
- Take a break from 5 pm-6 pm
- Work from 6 pm-8 pm
Time tracking apps can help you get into a routine that works for you. Be diligent with time entries to establish time spent on specific tasks. Freelancer time tracking not only helps to establish a routine. It can also help when you need to create invoices or to give potential clients a time frame for a project.
When you set your routine, don't be afraid to say no when people want to meet during these hours. This is your time, so you decide how you spend it.
If you struggle to establish a routine, do a little research about time management tips for working from home. You can couple this with good time management tools for freelancers, such as a Pomodoro timer that helps you work in sprints of 25 minutes.
2. Set specific goals and deadlines
It’s also easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of freelancing and lose sight of your long-term goals. But, to be productive, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of what you’re working towards.
You need to set specific goals for yourself and deadlines for important tasks. Then you need to create a plan of action to achieve them. Without a plan, you may get sidetracked and get discouraged if you’re not making the progress you want to make.
In addition to goals and deadlines, it’s essential to track your progress. You’ll be able to see exactly how far you’ve come and it will help you to stay on track and motivated.
Looking at the bigger picture, it helps to have a good reason why you're working towards a specific goal. Perhaps you want to earn a certain amount of money or reach a particular milestone in your business.
3. Create a workspace that is conducive to productivity
Another important tip to stay productive as a freelancer is to create a workspace conducive to productivity. You need to ensure this space is comfortable, well-lit, and free from distractions.
It’s also essential to have all the necessary tools and resources close at hand. You don’t want to waste time searching for something simple like a website template.
If you struggle to focus on work in your home office, you may consider coworking spaces or renting an office. These spaces can provide the structure and support you need to be productive.
Closely related to having a productive workspace setting is the equipment you need. This includes a fast computer, a reliable internet connection, and any software you may need for your work.
Having the specific tools to make your freelance job easier can also be a big help. For example, if you’re a web developer, invest in a good code editor to save time and make your work much more manageable.
If you're a video marketer doing live streams, get an advanced capture card for your computer to make your work smoother.
4. Take breaks throughout the day
Although it’s essential to establish a work routine, taking breaks is part of your self-employed time management. This will help you to avoid burnout and stay fresh for your work.
You can use breaks for anything from grabbing a coffee, taking a walk to meditate, or doing some stretches. Afraid that you won't be able to get back to work after a break? Do a little research about how to track your time as a freelancer.
Taking proper vacations is also essential. You need to unplug entirely from work and take some time off to relax and recharge.
While some might find it hard to disconnect from work completely, it’s important to do so. Remember that vacations are essential for maintaining productivity levels in the long run.
If you feel overwhelmed with work, read more about how to manage freelance projects.
5. Stay organized
As a freelancer, it’s essential to stay organized and on top of your work. You need a system to track deadlines, tasks, and client communications.
There are several different tools available to help with this. With a little research, you’ll find the best productivity apps for freelancers and software aimed at project management for freelancers. There are also calendar apps, productivity monitoring tools, scheduling tools and to-do list apps. These tools will help you stay on track and ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.
Using the right productivity tools for freelancers doesn't only mean using tools related to organizing. If you find a way to automate or streamline any of your processes, it will boost your productivity.
For example, if you’re a web designer, using a digital design tool to create your designs can save a lot of time.
6. Avoid distractions
One of the biggest productivity killers is distractions. This could include anything from checking social media to watching TV or even daydreaming.
When you’re working, it’s essential to minimize distractions and focus on the task at hand. It is sometimes easier said than done, but there are a few things you can do to help.
First, turn off any notifications that might come through on your phone or computer. Notifications can be a big distraction that makes it hard to focus on your work.
Second, if possible, work in a space free from distractions. Choose a quiet room in your house or even a coffee shop with good internet. While this might not appeal to everyone, some people love the background action a coffee shop offers. Just make sure you have great noise-canceling headphones if you go the coffee shop route. There will be times when you want to shut out the world.
You can also have a website blocker that stops you from accessing certain websites while you're working. This could be social media sites, news sites, or even just your favorite website.
Finally, if you’re working from home, it’s good to set some ground rules with friends and family. Let them know that you’re working and unavailable during certain hours. This will ensure that they don’t distract you while you’re trying to focus.
7. Use helpful tools and resources
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s essential to do your research and experiment with what works best for you.
Here are a few helpful software tools that can get you started:
- Trello – A project management tool that can help you organize your work and stay on track.
- RescueTime – A time tracking tool that helps you to see where you’re spending your time and how you can optimize your workflow.
- Evernote – A note-taking app that allows you to keep all of your notes in one place.
While these are just a few tools that can help, there are many more available on the market.
8. Celebrate your accomplishments
Sometimes it can feel like you're just spinning your wheels, so it's important to remember your accomplishments. At the end of each day, take a step back and look at what you've accomplished.
This can be anything from completing a big project to finishing a small task or making progress towards a goal.
No matter how big or small, it's important to celebrate your accomplishments. This will keep you motivated and focused on your goals.
A great way to celebrate your accomplishments is to reward yourself with a break or a treat. You can choose anything from taking a walk to watching a movie to eating your favorite food.
Find what works best for you, and celebrate your accomplishments regularly.
9. Take care of yourself both physically and mentally
Finally, don't forget that a healthy mind and body are essential for productivity. Make sure to take care of yourself both physically and mentally.
Be sure to get enough sleep, eat healthily, and exercise regularly. As discussed earlier, it’s important to take breaks when you need them and not push yourself too hard.
If you're not taking care of yourself, it will be tough to be productive. Prioritize your health and wellbeing if you want to be effective in the long run.
Being a freelancer can be a great way to work on your terms and build a successful business. However, it's essential to stay productive if you want to succeed.
Keep the above tips in mind to help you stay on track and achieve your goals — both in the short and long term.