For some industries, freelancing is not at all a new method of working. Many people prefer working from home and for themselves, which can be done easily in some fields that permit remote working. For instance, graphic design and copywriting are among the roles which many people do as freelancers. Ultimately, what is freelancing?
The job of a freelancer means the individual works for themselves rather than being employed by a company or business. Because of this, the freelancer is in charge of managing their time effectively and taking on projects that fit them and their expertise, given that they are self-employed or independent contractors. This includes negotiating and setting rates as well as managing your finances to see how many and what type of projects to look for. Usually, freelancers work from home or from a neutral workspace where they feel highly motivated, so they aren’t going to an office from Monday to Friday.
Being a freelancer seems easy for many. Managing your time as you please might look like a huge advantage. And while this is true, it is also a fact that freelancing is not for everyone. For some people, working for someone and being given a clear task and target is the motivator.
However, if you choose to become a freelancer, it might be challenging at the beginning. Even if you are the type of person to work independently, getting started could be a bit daunting. Therefore, here are five simple time management tips to help you stay organized as a freelancer:
1. Identify suitable projects
The saying “don’t bite off more than you can chew” can be effectively used to describe what a freelancer should consider when searching for projects. It is of the utmost importance not to let the excitement of finding an exciting project make you take more than you could do in a limited amount of time. Not to mention that having many different projects can overwhelm you with a workload that will negatively influence your performance and hurt your reputation. This is to be avoided.
Therefore, a first step would be to identify suitable projects that match your skillset and expertise to be realistically completed. This will help you organize your tasks and create deadlines towards which you will be working. So, whether you find a large and complex project or multiple smaller ones, it is crucial you keep in mind that creating a workload can hurt your performance.
2. Organize your tasks by urgency
Once you have identified your ideal project, the next step is to break it down into tasks which you will have to organize. An effective way to do this is to divide them by urgency and importance. This method of prioritization is known as the Eisenhower Matrix, which is distributed into four quadrants:
- Do: tasks that are both urgent and important;
- Schedule: tasks that are important but not urgent;
- Delegate: tasks that are urgent but not important;
- Delete: tasks that are not urgent nor important.
Based on the Eisenhower Matrix technique, you will be able to organize your tasks and responsibilities more effectively, taking into account their urgency and importance. Apart from this, it is crucial you set precise times during the day, a schedule that works for you where you will commit to working. Sticking to this schedule is essential as you are working and delegating tasks on your own. Therefore, no matter if you are an early bird or are more productive in the afternoon, it is vital you make use of your potential efficiently during the day.
3. Focus on one thing at a time
When working alone, especially if you are working from home, it isn’t too difficult to get distracted by other things. So, it is of the utmost importance you get rid of distractions, both digital and not. During your break, it is advisable you detach a bit from your work. However, in order to remain productive, it is essential you don’t let other things interfere and disrupt your concentration.
For this reason, freelancers must create a proper workspace, whether it is in the living room, a home office room, or you go to your favorite café if that is what you need to get in the proper state of mind for working. Besides, it is also vital you focus on one thing at a time, as doing many things simultaneously can do more harm than good, as it is probable you cannot fulfill any of them.
4. Make use of digital tools
A highly important aspect for freelancers is to make use of the digital tools available that can facilitate and support their performance. For instance, virtual communication tools like Skype and organizational ones like Google Drive are beneficial to keep in touch with your clients and facilitate giving and receiving feedback throughout the entire process.
In addition, when you discuss with your client, it is crucial you send them documents showing the progress of the project and any questions that might arise on which you need further clarifications. In this case, there are online services that help you edit or merge PDF files. It would be best if you used PDFs because these types of files are compatible with any device or operating system. Plus, their format is more reliable when it comes to the content, as these files can support any type of data, such as text, graphs, photographs, and so on. The information will be displayed as it is regardless of what you use to view it.
5. Make realistic decisions
Once you get started and begin gaining experience, chances are projects will come your way, and you won’t have to go looking for them as often. For this reason, it is crucial you learn how to say no. Making realistic decisions is of the utmost importance when you reach a point where you have constant work, as it isn’t recommended to accept every offer that you receive and risk getting overwhelmed with work.
However, if you don’t want to keep saying no, there is a method to help you leave some room in your schedule, so you are available if an unplanned project appears. What you can do is free up a fourth of your timetable every once in a while, if not constantly. This way, you might be able to take on an unexpected project that interests you.