Working as a freelancer can be both exhilarating and overwhelming, especially if you're just starting to make the switch from 9-5. With a full-time job comes a predictable schedule and structured day whereas a freelance jobs consist of a more flexible day-to-day. As exciting as it is, with this new found "freedom", comes large responsibility. You have a responsibility to your clients and customers, which if not upheld can make or break your freelance career. Unlike a 9-5 job, as a freelance worker, you are the one responsible for holding yourself accountable and it’s up to you to manage your time efficiently. Thanks to the help of one of our esteemed freelance recruiters, we were able to compile a list of effective time management tips to make your transition to a freelancer as seamless as possible.
#1 Focus on one task at a time (stay organized)
I think we can all agree that organization is key no matter what you do. Our freelance recruiter suggests, "If you have multiple clients, spend Sunday afternoon mapping out what needs to be done for each one that week. Set up a To Do list for each day so that everything gets the equal attention it needs". Be sure to prioritize your To Do list with time sensitive projects in the beginning of the week so you're able to complete them on time, or better yet, early in case your client has any changes. You want to keep each To Do list to a minimum so you're able to cross things off instead of jumping around from task to task in an unorganized manner. You waste more time bouncing between projects than you do if you sit down and focus on one thing at a time.
#2 Treat freelance as a 9-5
A freelance job is just as much of a commitment as a 9-5 job. The only difference is with freelancing your 9-5 can become 6am-3pm, midnight to 2am, etc. In our freelance recruiter's experience, she has found that using early morning hours for your most labor, creative, or idea-intensive work is best. As tempting as it may be to put work off, she advises using the afternoon for following up on emails and making phone calls. Unlike a 9-5, your job as a freelancer is only done when you say it's done which can lead to working 12-14 hour days. Our freelance recruiter says that because of this you should "always be billing - use travel time to clients as work time... even in the car, you can take phone meetings during your drive, or record drafts of things to write later or ideate campaigns."All of that time is time spent working which can be billed. Just as you get paid for working a certain amount of hours at a 9-5, you need to keep track of when you're working especially if it exceeds the 9-5 you're used to.
#3 Avoid distractions
It can be easy to fall off track when you have email notifications popping up in the corner of your computer screen. Naturally, we want to check every email that comes in but our freelance recruiter recommends setting times during the day when you check emails without exceeding that time. "Only reply to urgent emails at that time otherwise leave them for later in the day," she advises, "emails are a huge time suck."Not to mention the temptation to "take a break" and check social media. Our freelancer recruiter recommends, "Do not log into social media accounts at all during the day. Unless it's part of your job of course." One minute you'll be plugging away for a client and the next you're on Instagram looking at your best friend's sister's stepbrother's best man who turns out to be Ryan Gosling...Social media and the internet is an alluring black hole that will suck you in if you let it, and you'll never get any work done. It's best to avoid the temptation altogether and put your phone in another room or turn it off completely until your most important work is completed. You can also disable the internet from your computer with apps like SelfControl.
Managing your time working as a freelancer can be tricky at first but it will get easier once you get your own routine down and put the tips above into practice. For more tips on becoming a freelancer, check out our Upskill Workshop on how to be a freelancer.