Updated: Jan 23
You've got your first gig as a freelancer - ace! You're enjoying that time working from home and the feeling of independence. Next thing you know, you've got your 2nd client - go you! But now, you've got to manage your time more efficiently. With more clients, brings more deadlines. You've got to work smart, why?
Not completing tasks or hitting deadlines can lose you clients and make it difficult to attract new ones.
Losing out financially - not managing the time you spend on projects could negatively impact your bottom line.
Overwhelm and stress - losing the feeling of control can really impact your mental health and make you forget why you wanted to freelance in the first place.
Tips & Tricks for Time Management
When you start out, there will be a lot of trial and error while you adjust and explore how you work at your optimum. BUT, there are tried and tested processes/methods you can put in place now to shorten that learning curve and help you manage your time effectively, right from the beginning.
Project management software
Store files and documents in one place
Manage multiple clients and projects
Set deadlines on tasks
Assign tasks to others (if you are working with a team)
Get notifications and reminders
Keep communication in one place
Compatible with desktop and mobile
It is so tempting to take advantage of the flexibility being freelance gives you BUT this is an easy trap to fall in and before you know it, your workload is piling up. Get yourself into a routine by setting out the following:
Give yourself set working hours (work out when you're most productive)
Schedule your breaks (and DO take breaks!)
Plan your daily workload in advance so you don't miss any deadlines or get caught up doing other things
The Pomodoro Technique
Ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique? This time-management technique was developed in the '80s and essentially works by breaking your work and break time into smaller intervals. The Pomodoro Technique is a 25-minute interval of focussed work followed by 5 minutes of breaktime (to stretch your legs, rest your eyes, make a cuppa etc.) The 25:5 formula may not work for you, but you get the gist.
Read more about the Pomodoro Technique here.
Track your time
Time, my babes, is money. You don't want to quote 8 hours for a task only to find out it's taken you 20 hours to complete! That's 12 hours of time that you've not been paid for - eesh.
There are dedicated time-tracking tools such as Clockify, Toggl or within those project management software I mentioned before. But to be perfectly honest, I find a good 'ole spreadsheet is more than adequate to track the amount of time spent on each task.
Keeping a record of time also gives you a good idea of how long something takes (e.g. creating a post, researching then writing a blog) - super handy for quoting and managing expectations for future projects.
Prioritise your tasks
I think we're all guilty of it - putting off that one task you know you need to do in favour of ticking of a few quick-wins from the daily to-do list. But honestly babe, it's not worth the stress you're going to feel when deadline day is here and you didn't show up.
But it's ok, we can manage this! And it starts with a list. You're going to want to start jotting down the tasks with the most urgency. Once it's all laid out then you can plan your workload for the week ahead, ensuring that you give precedence to the most urgent tasks - schedule these in your planner as the FIRST thing you do, when you're mind is most fresh.
Also, check if you need anything from other people - it's usually worth making the request so that you can crack on rather than coming to a standstill because they haven't come back to you.
Tip! Sometimes a task seems too big to tackle, that's why we end up putting it off. Break the task down into smaller, more manageable tasks. When you start ticking those smaller jobs off, you'll feel more in control, less overwhelmed and before you know it, you'll be done in no time!
Design your working environment
Sure, we all love the novelty of slobbing on the sofa or having your laptop in bed with you. But, deep down, we all know this isn't sustainable for long-term productivity.
Plus, there's also the arguement against merging your relaxation space with your working space - we need to create a boundary between work life and home life and not let one take over the other.
A designated work station helps you to switch into 'work mode' and signals to your subconscious that it's time for business. Not many of us have the luxury of a home office but there are ways to utilise the space we do have to make a clear differentiation between business and home.
Don't overbook yourself - it's ok to say no
The greatest benefit of working for yourself is that it's really up to you what projects you take on, who you decide to work with and, ultimately, what your priorities are (because each of us has our own circumstances and reasons for doing what we do).
Be realistic with your time and always stay true to your purpose (the 'why' behind your freelance business) and if something doesn't feel right or is going to stretch you too thin, you can always say no. Yes, when you don't have the safeguard of employment, it's so easy to take on every bit of work that comes your way. BUT if it doesn't fit, you're not going to feel good about it and you will be doing an injustice to yourself and the client.
Handle it politely and professionally and there's no need to 'lose' a potential future client. Maybe it's just a 'no' for now or, if you can, make a recommendation and put the client in touch with somebody you know who can do the job.
Hire others to help you
Sometimes a project comes along that is just too good to turn away. Maybe you're worried that you don't have enough time to take it on by yourself or maybe there are some skills required that are out of your remit. Babe - take the job and bring in other freelancers to help you!
Two messages that I put out constantly:
Collaboration over competition
There's enough room and money for us all
Building a network of referrals and suppliers is going to help your freelance career survive and thrive.
Need help with getting your business of the ground? Or have a side hustle or business idea but don't know how to give it life?
I'm always down for a natter babe and if I can help, I'd love to!
Book in a FREE 20-minute discovery call with me and let's make your dream happen!