Effective Time Management for Freelancers

Effective Time Management for Freelancers

The reasons why IT people choose a career as a freelancer can vary. Factors such as personal and family life, interest in traveling, or long-term bad experiences with superiors are decisive. Everyone has their own preferences and values ​​that are important to him/her.

Here are some of the top reasons why people in IT choose to work as a freelancer:

• Work-life balance

• Desire to choose when and how they work (short-term/long-term projects)

• Changing the place of work (projects in different countries)

• Interest in trying to be their own boss

• Wish to choose projects according to inner beliefs, values ​​and interests

• Higher productivity

• Freedom

Freelancing has an indisputable number of advantages, but you also need to be careful and face the reality. If you are not careful, a freelance career can end before it begins. Being a good boss to yourself is sometimes a challenge. If you want to succeed, you need to work on your hard skills and soft skills.  If you’re looking for guidance on how to improve your productivity, we have got some tips in our guide to effective time management for freelancers.

Try to be the master of your time. At least most of the time 😊

If you are not currently on a project directly at the customer´s premises, it is important to set a time for work and a time when clients can contact you and when you can contact them. Due to the blurring of geographical boundaries between customers and suppliers, it is not uncommon for you to have clients from different time zones. In this case, determining the “working time” is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you will be contacted by project managers 24/7 – and that is the absolute opposite of an effective time management.

Effective Time Management goes even through time zones

You have to think about the fact, that instead of one superior, you can suddenly gain several of them. You may have several parallel projects running, or you will be working on a large scale project where there will be several responsible managers on the customer’s side. Here it is extremely important to manage your time effectively.

When is your productivity hitting the peak?

You have probably already noticed that you show different levels of productivity in different time of the day. Sometimes it is easier to concentrate even on difficult tasks, other times your concentration and focus decreases.

Identifying these zones of your productivity contributes to better use of your time. Optimize your day so that the performance of more demanding tasks falls into the most productive zones, on the contrary, leave phone calls and answering emails for the time when your productivity decreases.

Keep your tasks under control

Start planning your work in your calendar. There are already a number of tools to help you with this. However, it is a priority that you plan your time for individual days and especially hours. Otherwise, a person tends to slip into unrealistic expectations when he plans a lot of tasks that are impossible to complete in one day.

The calendar will “force” you to divide your time between the tasks that have the highest priority and at the same time estimate how much time the given task will take.

Gray zones of working hours

Swiss Cheese Method – Let´s make som holes

No, no, don’t get up. You don’t need to go to the fridge for any cheese. 😊

This is a method where large projects and tasks can be divided into smaller parts and sub-tasks, which are easier to solve, sometimes even out of logical order.

Think of the project in front of you as a big block of Swiss cheese. Individual steps and task you finish are like the holes you make in it. The more such holes you make (you complete the small partial tasks), the less weight the overall project (block of cheese) will have and the less difficult to complete it. This way you can prevent procrastination.

Routine helps productivity

We understand that the advantage of freelancing is also the freedom in working hours, but we need to find a golden equilibrium. Starting your workday at the same time helps your brain switch into productivity mode. As a result, you are more efficient and your work goes faster.

In addition, it is easier to plan your days, work and projects.

Effective Time Management as a tool for higher productivity

Freedom in choosing projects

One of the biggest advantages of freelancing is the freedom to decide who you want to work with and on which projects. You can approach companies whose vision, idea and type of work match your dreams and thus work on interesting projects that you will enjoy. Choose a job where you are satisfied with the project manager, have the same priorities, understand each other, perceive a realistic time horizon, use the same vocabulary, understand the same importance of the project.

However, already at the beginning of cooperation with a new client, clarify your work style and verify that it is acceptable for the other party. At this stage, it is important to realize whether you and the customer have the same idea, expectations and especially the way of communication. As a result, further meetings will be faster and more efficient.

Education is a must

The IT sector is one of the fastest growing sectors of the world economy. However, this means pressure to perform as well as the constant need to educate yourself and learn new things.

Education is another area that people tend to forget when they are planning their time. In order to keep pace with the development on the market, it will not be possible without educating yourself. Plan some time in your calendar for various trainings, courses and consultations.

Learning, learning and once again – learning. That´s IT.

Self-discipline. How to do it?

If you have decided to step into the path of a freelancer and left the path of a classic employee, you take over the “whip” and responsibility for yourself and your performance. You have to learn to be the best version of yourself, find your own “modus operandi”.

Messages, email notifications, social networks, or group chats – all of these are productivity killers. Your focus time should really be focus time. Every distraction slows you down. You can check everything during the breaks you plan for these activities.

There is always other side of the coin

“The more I work, the more I earn.” Sounds tempting, right? In the short term, it might work that way. But in the long run, it is a road to hell. Machines also sometimes need downtime, updating, and the human brain works in the same way. Set aside time for your vacation as well. From time to time  you need to gain new strength and be more efficient in other projects.

No one will protect you, and if you are not able to tell yourself at a given moment that this is beyond the limit of endurance before it demands a higher toll, it can slide into long-term overload and even burnout syndrome. None of us is a machine (I hope Arnold will forgive me for that comment). And that is why it is so important to think about rest.

Your own space for productive work

If you have decided to go down the freelance route, most likely your home will be partially or fully place of your work. And this fact has its challenges and pitfalls. Don’t forget to arrange your home so that your workspace encourages your productivity and focus.

The basis should be sufficient and correct lighting to reduce the negative radiance  from the monitor and at the same time a sufficient source of daylight to keep you awake and efficient.

You also need to think about your type and style of your work – do you need silence and complete noise isolation from the rest of the household, or do you not mind the normal operation, or the movement of the other household members during the day. Last but not least, the ergonomics of your workplace are important – that is, the actual setting of your desk and chair. If you don’t know how to do it, we covered this topic in our post.

So … what principles of effective time management should you adopt?

Each of us is unique and each works on different projects with different conditions. We have mentioned several ways to manage your time effectively. Try to find the one that suits you the best among the listed ones. Try some (or all) of the above methods and see which one works for you.

Because as soon as you achieve success and efficiency in the area of your time management, satisfaction will appear in other areas as well. In this fast-paced world, every minute is precious. Let’s not waste our days by wasting time and attention where it is not needed.

If you still don’t have the job of your dreams where you can test and apply all these principles, follow our social networks:

Guide to effective time management