In Little Women, Luisa May Alcott wrote, “Have regular hours for work and play, make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well.” Though times have changed drastically since the 1800s, that advice about time management still rings true.
Here at CANDESCENT, we know that it can be hard to manage your time as a freelancer. Possibly even more so now that we’re all spending way more time in our homes. These days seem like they’re all blending into one! No? Just us? Ok.
As freelancers adapt to the changing creative climate, some are busier than ever, some are slowing down, and some are just getting started. Wherever you are in your freelancing career, the #1 rule is the same: you have to be able to manage your time well.
To help you be the most successful woman you can be, we’ve got 7 great time management tips to keep your freelance business running smoothly and your sleep schedule on track.
1. Make a schedule and stick to it
We know that you’ve got a planner tucked away somewhere that you aren’t using. Dust it off and plan out your week. Now, go! – Alright. While you’re planning out your week, schedule in the things that you’d normally do on a whim like Lunch Break or Take a Walk. Don’t deviate from the schedule no matter how badly you want to watch Ozark.
2. Learn to say ‘no’
Even though times are uncertain, and you want to take on every project you can, one of the best time management tips for freelancers is to know your limits and when to say ‘no.’ Project is too long for what it’s worth? Say ‘no.’ Orders piling up and you feel like you’re drowning? Say ‘no’ to new ones.
This is especially important because you never know when you’re going to run into a snag on a project. If you’ve allocated 3 hours to a specific thing that ends up taking 5 and you’ve still got order requests rolling in, being able to confidently say ‘no’ until you’re good and ready will keep those feelings of panic at bay.
3. Plan days off
Go back and grab your planner. Did you allocate enough time for fun activities? Even if you’re just going to watch TV for a whole day in your fluffy robe, block out a day that works with your deadlines, so you don’t go completely insane!
It’s also a great idea to plan a day where you are able to get some energy out. Sitting in your house all day isn’t good for your mental health and will affect your work in the long run. Schedule a socially distant hike or a day for a long bike ride.
4. Set app time limits
We can’t stop you from checking Twitter, but we can give you a piece of good advice. Allocate 5-15 minutes a couple times a day to check your social media accounts until your “workday” is over. Maybe you’ll want to align your app time with scheduled or bathroom breaks. Scroll while you eat, walk or after you use the bathroom (wash your hands and don’t bring your phone with you! Germs!)
Before you start each workday, also remember to put your phone on Do Not Disturb or turn off all of your notifications. This is the old “out of sight, out of mind” trick that will prevent you from reaching for your phone every time it lights up.
5. Break large tasks into smaller ones
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a large project and it’s causing you to spiral or shut down (we’ve been there), break it up into little tasks. It might not be a bad idea to check in with your client and ask if their project can be delivered in milestones, so long as the final deadline doesn’t change. It’s nice to have little benchmarks along the way instead of feeling like we’re diving into an ocean of work!
6. Become a morning person*
We are so sorry about this one, but it’s got to happen! Start setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier every day until you can get up around 7 a.m. We know it’s hard but starting your workday early and checking off that to-do list a few times before noon feels incredible. This will also give you more time to physically plan out your day and get yourself on a good schedule.
*If you know that you’ll never be a morning person, but you’re super productive at night, go for it. As long as you’re giving yourself a solid amount of time to be productive, 8-hours of sleep, and are available at the appropriate times to communicate with your clients, we won’t complain.
7. Prioritize your tasks
If you’ve got a to-do list a mile long even after you’ve scheduled out your week, take a look at which are the most important. Which deadline is first? Which client is the pickiest? How many tasks are small that you can bang out in the first hour or two of your day without really impeding on other work?
If you’ve got administrative tasks that are really important but don’t need to be done immediately, maybe save those for later in the evening while you’ve got Ozark on in the background.
Alright ladies there you have it! 7 of the best time management tips for freelancers. Now we would like to offer a challenge: pick one of these tips and implement it into your workflow each week. Once you’ve gone a full week of implementing a new time management skill, move on to another one. You don’t have to go in order.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. These practices are going to take some trial and error so don’t get down on yourself if you can’t get the hang of one.
We’d love to hear your progress, feedback or any other tips! Share your journey on social media and tag us @WeAreCandescent. We’re here to grow with you.