Tue 14th Jul 2015
Freelancing has amazing benefits to enjoy, not least in the ability to live a flexible lifestyle – not constrained to the 9 – 5 schedule employed counterparts work to. Whilst this gives you great opportunities, it can have big consequences if your time management isn’t kept in check. It can be easy to find time has slipped away from you and at invoice point you realise that you have either not focused enough and your projects are not ready for invoice reducing you income or alternatively you have spent such a long time on projects your hourly rate is greatly reduced. Whilst experience is often a great teacher, new and experienced freelancers may gain some benefit to consider the following -
Track your time
Keep an eye on time you have spent by completing time sheets. Not only does this give you a day by day appreciation productive hours you will be able to invoice for – it also helps with costing projects in the future. Time sheets can help you to analyse your projects and see where your time is being spent. Is this on the areas of biggest return? If not it might be time to reconsider your work flows.
Minimise interruptions and distractions
Whilst your flexible lifestyle is important, it is essential that you and others do not take advantage of it – as ultimately your service will suffer. Even though you don’t have a boss to answer to it is not wise to spend your days on calls to friends, or having people drop in. Allocate your time for work to suit your lifestyle, but make the hours at work be about work, and ask that people around you treat them as if you were in an office too.
If you work from home
It is good practice to set some space aside where you can shut yourself off from those around you and get in to a work zone. It doesn’t have to be a complete home office, but an area you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the projects you are working on. If working from home is not productive, consider renting space in a shared office where you can take yourself away from distractions and keep as a professional zone.
Stay on task
Make sure you understand your timescales for each day with a plan for outcomes. Although new priorities may appear, setting daily outcomes helps to keep the project momentum going and keeps a gentle pressure on you. This can avoid projects over running or last minute panics.
Find your own balance
No two freelancers will work in the same way. You need to understand when working works best for you and your customers. Whether it is in the day or in the evening, as long as the hours are put in and the customer has the service delivery they expect.
Avoid burn out
Often working for yourself you will find you are working much more than you ever expected. Make sure you are aware of the hours you are working, and set limits for your work life. With the increase of mobile devices it is becoming ever harder to step away from work. From phone calls from clients at the school gates, or a constantly checking emails when socialising with friends, switching off can be difficult. You might consider setting the number of hours you will work a day, or having zones of the house where you don’t think about work, such as the family room; find a balance that works. If you are constantly switched on you will find the freedom of independence soon weighs heavy on you.