There's never enough time to do everything, especially when it comes to freelancing. Between working, finding work, communicating with potential clients that may or may not actually offer you work, and taking care of normal day-to-day stuff (like showering or eating), it seems like time is always running out and leaving you with the check.
Tip 1: Create A Routine
A routine doesn't necessarily mean doing the same thing every day, but it might mean starting out the day the same way -- by grabbing a cup of coffee at your favorite restaurant or hitting the gym before sitting down to work, and then working from a schedule you have set up for yourself. It might mean rewarding yourself for completing work, or making sure to take a walk during your work day every day. A routine helps structure your time when it might otherwise be unstructured.
Tip 2: Use Effective Tools
Pick one part of your day that takes up a lot of non-billable time, and find a tool to help you make it go faster. For example, I find that finding clients, writing proposals, and communicating about the project can take up a lot of time--time that is critical to getting paid work. Platforms like Osmosis and Bidsketch can help you better utilize this time. If you do a lot of similar projects, you can use Osmosis to set up templates for proposals and questionnaires, and thus spend a lot less time figuring out something new to say to each and every client. They also have an Activity Stream, so you can track where your client is in the process, without having to repeatedly write time consuming emails over and over. Time is money, after all.
Bidsketch offers a similar platform. They advertise "Better Proposals in Half the Time," and provide proposal templates, electronic signatures (for everyone's convenience!), and help you better organize your time and resources to get more clients and get more money.
Tip 3: Close Facebook
One of the biggest time wasters is social media. Now, every business needs a presence on social media, but don't let yourself use that as an excuse to kill time by browsing Facebook or Twitter. Set aside time specifically for marketing yourself, and close those browser windows the rest of the time. This may also be true for addicting games (Candy Crush, anyone?), cuddly cats, or the refrigerator.
Tip 4: Plan Time for Distractions
That said, distractions can be good! Sometimes it feels nice to have your cat curl up in your lap, or you need to give your brain a break from the constant strain. Candy Crush, a good book, your favourite TV show--these distractions can actually be good… with moderation. Think of it like dieting. If you cut out everything you crave from your diet, you're more likely to cave in and way overeat something you shouldn't. If you try to cut yourself off from every fun and relaxing activity, not only will you be exhausted at the end of the day, you'll be more likely to cave and spend three hours playing Age of Empires instead of working.
So schedule some fun into your day. Read a book for half an hour. Buy yourself lunch at your favorite restaurant. Take time to go for a walk. After all--it's one of the perks of freelancing! Treat yourself!
What tips or tools do you use to help manage your time?