Looking to be more productive as a freelancer? In order to make the most of your freelance career, it’s essential to organize your work schedule. More people than ever are self-employed, benefiting from location independence, flexible hours and freedom to choose clients and projects. However, these positive aspects of the freelancing lifestyle can pose challenges to staying organized and disciplined.
Freelancing can be a lonely business. People who work exclusively from home or independently are prone to becoming isolated without the camaraderie of colleagues and social interactions. To prevent becoming disconnected, many of the most connected freelancers have found a community of like-minds to network within. From working at a coworking space or local coffee shop to attending industry-specific events alongside fellow freelancers and entrepreneurs, there are lots of ways to branch out.
Communicating with clients offers another opportunity to connect. If you’re a freelancer, instead of email try using Skype. Even make the effort to meet clients in person occasionally. The human interaction can help nurture business relationships more authentically as well as create social opportunities. Though as a freelancer you have a specific set of skills to sell to a client, in some ways you have to be a jack of all trades. Without the support that comes with a 9-5 office job, IT support, administration, project management, and HR is your responsibility.Made the jump from the 9-5 to a full-time freelancer? Working remotely as a digital nomad or occasionally work from home? On a course of study where you’re working intensively and independently? For all these ways of working, our tips on how to keep an organized and productive work schedule are a must-read.
Having a dedicated space to work from is essential. If you are home-based, aim to keep your workspace out of the bedroom. Tempting as it may be to base yourself in bed, it’s not conducive to long term productivity. If traveling as a freelancer or an entrepreneur, consider renting fully furnished accommodation set up to show up and start living. Apartments that come fully connected with a space to work from home can kill two birds with one stone. Blueground’s furnished apartments are popular with freelancers and business travelers alike who want the option to work comfortably when at home. For short or long term stays, many cities have coworking spaces that provide the facilities, support, and community on arrival. Wherever you choose to work, keep your workspace separate from your personal space.
When you’re out of the routine of a 9-5 job, it’s easy to fall into a free-flowing schedule. To rein in your ways of working as a freelancer, keep to a set schedule and set deadlines. There is still room for flexibility on how you split up the day, but a day to day schedule can keep you on task.
Make a time limit for your workdays. Use an online calendar and tracking tools that monitor your time like Pomodoro. Once you have an action plan for each day it’s easier to do an end of day check-in. Making a work schedule can enable you to evaluate your productivity and how your current working routine is serving you. Psychologically, getting yourself set up and motivated for a working day can even be a daily ritual like getting dressed in your ‘work’ clothes.
There are many tools available to streamline project management and administrative processes that make your office mobile with WiFi. The Google Apps are an “all-in-one” essential for freelancers. From Gmail to Google Calendar and Google Drive where you can keep all your ideas in one place. Trello is a popular tool that tracks the number of tasks from conception to invoice, and stores supporting documentation as you go along. Slack is another process management tool. It connects shared channels and guest accounts for the flexibility and freedom to work with clients, contractors and other third parties. Be mindful to introduce a tool only if it helps you feel more in control and efficient, there’s still room for pen and paper.
Freelancers have control over what kinds of projects they accept how much work they want to take on. A stumbling block can be committing to more jobs than are realistically manageable. Think quality, not quantity, and building relationships with clients and brands that can reap rewards in regular work and recommendations.
Are you finding yourself distracted and unfocused throughout the day? It’s easier said than done to complete focused hours of work as a freelancer. Ask yourself these questions. What are the elements that are contributing to your distraction? Is working from home not working out? Could you delete some social apps from your phone for a few hours? Have you tried scheduling your time on your smartphone or turning off notifications? Once you’ve identified the digital distractions that are eating up your time you can adapt how they fit into your working environment accordingly.
Interpret this as you wish, from a proper lunch break to a proper holiday, make sure you take some time to switch off. Setting aside personal time can seem self-indulgent when you don’t have the security net of paid holidays and a permanent position. To avoid burnout, schedule in a holiday around pre-arranged projects. You can even make taking a break part of a daily routine with a timeout on a meditation app, a walk in nature or a regular exercise class.
As a freelancer, your time can be pulled in different directions. However, it’s still important to make time for professional development and following industry trends. Non-billable activities can add value to your abilities in the longer term, plus give you the edge over the competition. From attending industry-specific conferences or seeking a mentor for peer to peer reviews – invest in yourself! You can always become better at what you do through further training. Whether its SEO developments, video editing, social media practices and more related to your field.