Becoming a freelancer and transitioning into full-time self-employment was something that really opened my eyes to proper time management practices. When you freelance, you’re a contractor and therefore don’t get paid hourly or salary. This means you only get paid based on your results and not the time you spent working.
Whether you freelance or not, we all want to be more productive and manage our time well. The results of proper time management are just too good to ignore.
Saving time at work can mean the difference in thousands of dollars or profit earned during the year. The average employee spends 5 hours per week at work slacking off on unrelated tasks. This results in billions of dollars in lost revenue for companies each year. If you’re self-employed and have no one to hover over you at work for accountability, imagine how much time you could be wasting each week.
Freelancing has helped me become more conscious of the time-wasters that can creep into the day and how to overcome them. Here are some key ways to save time as a freelancer or if you’re running a business
Cancel the Commute
I’ve never liked commuting. At my last job my commute was around 30 minutes each way to work and sometimes more if there was traffic. I was happy to work from home when I started freelancing. This easily saved me 5 hours per week at the bare minimum.
I know sometimes it’s difficult for some people to focus at home, but that’s why it’s best to have a dedicated distraction-free workspace. You also need to do your part to use your time efficiently. If you get up and slack off for an hour before starting work, you won’t be saving any time by working at home.
Instead, plan out your day the night before, set your alarm, and take advantage of the extra time you have when you work from home.
Let Email Pile Up
That’s right. You may be scared of what will happen if you don’t address certain emails right when they come in. The result is simple. People will just have to wait. The world won’t stop turning and your client’s business won’t fall apart just because you start checking email less each day.
In fact, this will probably save you a ton of time. I’m still struggling with my email addiction but it’s much better than before when I used to check email several times per hour. Challenge yourself to just check your email 3-4 times per day. Let emails pile up a little bit and check and respond to them in 20-minute batches for example.
This may mean handling an email batch before you start working, mid-way through your day, and toward the end of your workday. If you spend 20 minutes handing emails during these 3 batches, that adds up to an hour a day. I’m sure this sounds like a lot but if you’d track each time you open your email and get distracted daily, I’m sure it would add up to more time lost.
Give Yourself a ‘Before Noon’ Task
Some people don’t believe in deadlines, but I love them. I love the structure that comes with knowing I need to be done with a task by a certain time so I can get rid of it and move on in a sense. If clients don’t assign me a deadline, I create one on my own to help manage my calendar more efficiently.
One simple deadline that you can give yourself is a ‘before noon’ deadline each day. This means that you’ll have a certain set of tasks to complete before a specific time of day that you specialize.
My ‘before noon’ deadline is 9 am and I aim to have at least one client task completed by then, This prompts me to get up earlier and plan my time accordingly. I feel a major sense of achievement each day around the same time most people are just getting started with work.
I have a friend who actually aims to get all her freelance work completed by noon each day. I’m not to that point yet but it does sound pretty awesome to be that structured and productive. Giving your a ‘before noon’ task will help you stay focused and be less inclined to waste time.
Have a Meeting Day
If you’re a freelancer who has a few regular client meetings, set them all up on one day. That way, you’re not juggling too many tasks at once. Meetings can be productive if they’re held the right way.
Still, before or after a meeting, you may feel a little distracted by having to shift your focus. You have to prepare for a meeting in advance and debunk your thoughts and organize follow up tasks right after. Imagine if you set meetings at random times of the day. Odds are this could disrupt your work process.
Instead, see if clients will agree to one day of the week and book all your meetings around the same time.
As a freelancer, I have to manage batching tasks with completing things one by one. For example, as a writer, I’m not going to be able to write two articles at once. What I can do though is block off an hour on Mondays to outline 3 articles that I plan to write.
Another task I like to batch is invoicing. I’d rather not spend time invoicing each client one-by-one. Instead, I have a set day of the month where I send out invoices to all my clients and use templates to save even more time.
You can also send pitches in batches too. Assign time in your schedule to research prospects and give yourself a goal of how many pitches you’d like to send.
Save Time as a Freelancer With These Tips
Freelancing means you often don’t get paid for the time you spend doing mindless tasks. Use these tips to focus on being more efficient so you can save time as a freelancer and be more profitable. There are only so many hours in a day. Proper planning and avoiding time sucks will help you shave more off your to-do list.