Time Management for Freelancers Can Be Tough. Here Are 10 Ways to Do It Easy

If you're a freelancer, it's super important that you know how to manage your time. Check out some tips and tricks to help you stay organized and productive, so you can take on more jobs or get them done faster.

Time Management for Freelancers

While there is no shortage of tools and apps available to improve time management for freelancers, the reality is that tools alone won't work.

If you want to get ahead as a freelancer, you need to know how to manage your time wisely.

What are the most common time management issues faced by freelancers?

Difficulty in prioritizing tasks๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ”‘

Freelancers often have multiple projects and deadlines to manage simultaneously, which can make it difficult to prioritize tasks effectively.

Procrastination๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธ๐Ÿ’ค

With no boss or manager to hold them accountable, freelancers may struggle with procrastination and finding the motivation to start and complete tasks on time.

Poor time estimationโณ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’ญ

Freelancers may underestimate the time required to complete a task, leading to missed deadlines or rushed work.

Overcommitment๐Ÿค๐Ÿ”œ๐Ÿค•

In an effort to secure more work, freelancers may take on more projects than they can handle, leading to burnout and missed deadlines.

Distractions ๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ“บ๐ŸŽฎ

Working from home or other non-traditional workspaces can lead to distractions from family members, pets, or household chores.

Difficulty in setting boundaries๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿšง๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธ

Without a traditional work schedule, freelancers may struggle with setting clear boundaries between work time and personal time.

Lack of structure๐Ÿ›‘๐Ÿ“…๐Ÿ“

Freelancers may find it challenging to establish a daily routine or structure, leading to poor time management.

Inadequate tools and systems๐Ÿ› ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿ”ง

Without access to the right tools and systems for time management, such as project management software or calendars, freelancers may struggle to stay organized and on track.

Tip:

If you are struggling with how to effectively organize your tasks, events, calls, and meetings, install the TMetric browser plugin to enable Google Calendar time tracking, and make sure you don't miss any activities and polish your time management skills at the same time.

Inability to say no๐Ÿ™…โ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ

Freelancers may struggle with turning down work, leading to over-commitment and poor time management.

Fatigue and burnout๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ’ผ

Without proper time management, freelancers may experience fatigue and burnout, leading to decreased productivity and missed deadlines.

According to Harvard Business Review, time management is the process of decision-making that functions for:

  • structuring
  • protecting
  • adjusting an individual's time to changing environmental conditions.

It involves three key skills:

  • awareness (the skill of thinking realistically about time by understanding that it is a limited resource)
  • arrangement (designing and organizing goals, plans, schedules, and tasks to effectively use time)
  • adaptation (the skill of monitoring the use of time while performing activities, including adjusting to interruptions or changing priorities).
alarm clock in the center of the posteer for time management for freelancers

To achieve time management goals, freelancers can try to build a customized system based on these skills around the unconventional, yet easy-to-follow tips listed below.

Embrace monotasking๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿšซ๐Ÿ“ฑ

a person sitting with a laptop and focusing on work

Multitasking is a hoax that we've all fallen for. Does it seem hard to believe?Research shows that it reduces productivity and amplifies stress.

Edward M. Hallowell, a renowned psychiatrist, calls it a 'mythical activity' where we deceive ourselves into thinking we can do multiple tasks at once.

Instead, give monotasking a shot โ€“ it's where the magic happens. Put all your attention on a single task until it's accomplished.

Zoom in๐Ÿ”Ž: By following this simple tip, you are guaranteed to stay in the zone and achieve remarkable outcomes in a shorter time.

When attempting to apply yourself to too many tasks at a time, you are running a risk of draining your energy prematurely. The brain can only process one request at a time, so make sure to prioritize and give your full attention to each task as you work on it.

By concentrating on a single task and giving it your undivided attention, not only are you more likely to achieve a top-notch outcome, but you'll also feel a greater sense of fulfillment while doing it.

Practice time blocking๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ“…๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธ๐Ÿ”’

a person working in home office

Time blocking involves breaking down your day into smaller chunks of time and assigning each chunk a specific task or activity.

For example, you might block out two hours in the morning for client work, followed by an hour for administrative tasks, and another hour for marketing.

When planning time blocking, it is essential:

  • to be realistic when setting project goals and allocating time slots
  • to be generous with allocating time for breaks and unexpected interruptions.

Once you have created your time blocking schedule, you can use it as a guide to managing your day more effectively.

Zoom in๐Ÿ”Ž: This can help you avoid distractions and stay focused on your tasks, improve your productivity, and reduce stress.

With practice, you can develop the skill of time blocking and make it a habit that will serve you well in promoting your career as a freelancer.

This approach is based on the idea that by planning and allocating time for each task, you can manage your day more efficiently and be more productive.

Try the 80/20 rule๐Ÿ“Š๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ‘Œ

a person sitting near the chart

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, suggests that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.

As a freelancer, it is crucial that you prioritize your tasks effectively to ensure the success and profitability of your business. This involves identifying the tasks that generate the most revenue or have the most significant impact on your business and focusing your attention on them.

To determine which tasks are the most valuable, you should evaluate their impact on your business goals and objectives.

You should also consider factors such as the amount of time and resources required to complete each task and the potential return on investment.

Once you have identified the most valuable tasks, it is essential to accord them due priority.

Zoom in๐Ÿ”Ž: ย Effective prioritization not only helps you achieve your business goals but also helps you manage your workload and avoid burnout.

By focusing your attention on the most valuable tasks, you can optimize your productivity and maximize your profitability as a freelancer.

Use ergonomic equipment๐Ÿ’บ๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‹๏ธ

a person sitting at the desk

Sitting for prolonged periods can lead to fatigue, back pain, and reduced productivity. Consider investing in ergonomic furniture (for instance, a standing desk) to help you stay energized and engaged throughout the day.

Studies have shown that being seated for extended periods can decrease blood flow and cause stiffness in the muscles and joints, leading to discomfort and pain.

Additionally, sitting for long hours can cause poor posture and result in chronic pain in the neck, shoulders, and back.

Aside from a standing desk, other options include adjustable chairs, footrests, and keyboard trays. These items can be customized to your body type and work requirements, providing maximum comfort and support while you work.

Zoom in๐Ÿ”Ž: Creating a comfortable workspace with turned-off notifications and non-lyrical music can help you avoid distractions and focus all your energy on completing tasks efficiently and effectively.

By taking care of your physical health, you can improve your productivity and overall well-being.

In summary, investing in ergonomic furniture can help create a 'flow-friendly' environment where you stay energized and engaged throughout the day.

Take a nap๐Ÿ˜ด๐Ÿ›๏ธ๐ŸŒ…

animated image of the person with a telescope

Finding the right balance between work and rest is essential for any freelancer in order to remain productive during their working hours.

To achieve this, it is important to focus on getting enough sleep each night so that you are well-rested when it comes time to tackle your tasks for the day.

Zoom in๐Ÿ”Ž: Research has also shown that taking a nap for just 20 to 30 minutes during the day can actually boost your overall function, and improve memory and productivity. Consider taking a power nap during the day to recharge and refocus your mind.

Bonus Tip: It's also important for freelancers to take breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout. Schedule short breaks, such as a 10-15 minute walk or stretch break every 90 minutes, to help refresh your mind and body.

Create a personal mantra๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘‚๐Ÿ’ญ

a graphic image of the person sitting in the room and reading

Developing a personal mantra can be a helpful strategy for freelancers to build an effective time management strategy, stay motivated and remain on-task. This may involve positive statements such as "I am capable of attaining my objectives" or "I am productive and focused".

Zoom in๐Ÿ”Ž: Incorporating these types of affirmations in their daily lives can help freelancers maintain an optimistic outlook, which can have a favorable effect on their goal-setting and organization abilities.

When freelancers have faith in their capabilities, they are more likely to set feasible objectives and prioritize tasks effectively, resulting in higher output and accomplishments.

Practice mindfulness meditation๐Ÿง˜๐Ÿ•‰๏ธ๐Ÿง 

Mindfulness sessions can be beneficial for freelancers in managing their time, building networks, and setting boundaries. This can result in not only improved time management but more stable and profitable business.

Zoom in๐Ÿ”Ž: Mindfulness sessions are known for their positive impact on stress management and increase of focus, which can be beneficial in making better decisions, preventing toxic productivity, and prioritizing tasks with ease.

Freelancers can join online communities or attend networking events focused on mindfulness to find support and collaboration opportunities to help them avoid burnout.

Moreover, practicing mindfulness can empower freelancers to set healthy boundaries and learn to say no to projects that don't align with their goals or values.

Use the 5-minute ruleโฐโœ‹๐Ÿ‘

The 5-minute rule involves committing to working on a task for just 5 minutes. This can help you overcome procrastination and get started on a task, even if you're feeling unmotivated.

It will also help cope with the 'last-minute mindset' implying motivation only under the pressure of looming deadlines but actually causing overthinking and leading to chronic stress.

Zoom in๐Ÿ”Ž: This mindset can be particularly challenging for freelancers, as the lack of a fixed schedule can make it easy to procrastinate and delay work until the eleventh hour.

Following this easy tip, freelancers learn to break their work down into smaller, more manageable tasks, which can help avoid getting bogged down by larger projects and ensure making progress every day.

Take time off๐Ÿ“…๐ŸŒด๐Ÿ˜Ž

One of the most effective productivity tips is acknowledging that it's impossible to accomplish everything.

Hence, it is important to build time management not only around work but self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies, to help prevent burnout.

Taking time off, whether it's a long weekend or a full week, can help achieve it.

Besides, there exists a plethora of information, some of which may appear noteworthy, such as engaging in a discussion or a conference call.

Nevertheless, undertaking numerous tasks concurrently can be time and energy-draining. Thus, to keep balance and focus, freelancers need to set a limit on the quantity of information they absorb.

Zoom in๐Ÿ”Ž: Digital devices and social media can be major distractions for freelancers. Consider taking time off or a digital detox day once a week, where you disconnect from your work and enjoy offline tasks.

Bonus Tip: If you're feeling like you have too much on your plate and not enough hours in the day, it might be worth thinking about getting some help.

Use tools like time tracking software to analyze where you might mismanage your time.

You could also outsource some work by hiring a virtual assistant to take care of admin tasks.

Track your energy levelsโšก๐Ÿ“ˆ๐Ÿ“‰

Figure out what times of day youโ€™re most alert and focused; this could be early mornings, afternoon afternoons, or late nights depending on your individual preferences.

By dedicating these key moments towards high priority tasks or projects, freelancers can make sure they are utilizing their time efficiently and completing projects before deadlines with ease!

Zoom in๐Ÿ”Ž: Our energy levels fluctuate throughout the day, with peaks and dips in productivity.

That's why it is a good idea to track your productivity using a time tracker with a timeline that will visualize your productivity peaks instantly, and help plan your tasks around your maximum energy times.

This can help you maximize productivity and avoid burnout. Identifying your peak productivity hours can be extremely beneficial as they allow you to maximize output while minimizing stress levels.

Concluding Thought ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธโฐ๐ŸŽ‰

In conclusion, time management skills are crucial for anyone looking to be productive, efficient, and successful in their personal or professional life.

Developing skills in awareness, arrangement, and adaptation can help individuals make better decisions about how they use their time.

These lesser-known, yet easy, time management tips can help freelancers optimize their productivity and get things done.

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By incorporating these unconventional and lesser-known time management tips into their routine, freelancers can easily improve their productivity, reduce stress, and achieve their work goals.

How to manage your time as a freelancer

  • Avoid multitasking to keep focus
  • Try time boxing to be on track
  • Try the 80/20 rule to prevent procrastination
  • Use a standing desk to maintain fitness 
  • Take a nap to beat fatigue
  • Create a personal mantra to boost motivation
  • Practice mindfulness sessions to achieve a balance
  • Use the 5-minute rule to get concentrated
  • Take time off to recharge
  • Track productivity to know your energy levels

How can freelancers manage multiple projects at once?

  • By prioritizing tasks based on importance and deadline
  • By setting specific goals and deadlines for each project
  • By breaking down each project into smaller, more manageable tasks
  • By using project management tools to keep track of progress and deadlines
  • By communicating regularly with clients to ensure everyone is on the same page

How can freelancers avoid overworking themselves?

Freelancers can avoid overworking themselves by:

  • setting specific work hours and sticking to them
  • taking breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout
  • setting boundaries with clients about availability and turnaround time
  • delegating tasks to others if they have too much on their plate
  • scheduling time for self-care and hobbies outside of work.