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Losing Track of Projects? How to Manage Time as a Freelancer

February 24, 2012 · 11 comments

in Freelancing

How to Manage Time as a FreelancerFreelancers are free from the watchful eyes of a manager or supervisor, who is constantly making sure that the work is done. Instead, freelancers work by their own time frame and schedule, taking advantage of all the freedom it entails. However, this opportunity is not without its disadvantages; one common problem that plagues many freelancers is poor time management. The inability to keep track of projects and deadlines can have a detrimental effect on the freelancer’s business, resulting in lost clients and contracts.

5 Tips to Help Freelancers Manage Their Time

Achieving good time management habits is a skill that requires dedication and practice. However, there are a number of ways by which the freelancer can maximize the hours in the day. The following tips can help freelancers make the most out of their valuable time:

1. Follow Deadlines

One reason why freelancers fail at time management is because they set vague goals or deadlines. They make excuses when they don’t meet goals, pushing them back to a further time. However, this can have a negative effect, hindering the freelancer’s ability to meet client demands. Therefore, freelancers need to set clear deadlines that are realistic and manageable. Make sure that you give yourself enough time to meet the tasks, but not enough to motivate procrastination. By clearly defining deadlines, freelancers can better manage their time.

2. Use Time Tracking Tools

Time tracking tools gives freelancers a number of advantages, including the ability to understand exactly where their time has gone. Many time tracking tools keep online records of time spent in the past, offering freelancers insight on how to improve time management. In addition, freelancers are able to carefully budget their time, monitoring the duration of the project throughout the day. By keeping track of time, freelancers can better manage and allocate their responsibility among various projects.

3. Prioritize

A busy freelancer has multiple projects and dozens of tasks on his or her plate, constantly juggling between them. Prioritizing is a useful way to increase efficiency and make the most out of the freelancer’s time. While creating a “to-do” list, consider which projects are more important, and which can take a more relaxed schedule. There are a number of factors that play into the priority of a project, ranging from deadline, budget, and the preferences of the client.

4. Remove Distractions

Regardless of whether a freelancer works in a coffee shop or a home office, they are bound to be surrounded by distractions. Noisy conversations, children, phone calls, the Internet – all these distractions tempt the freelancer away from his or her work. However, these distractions can quickly sap time, leaving freelancers wondering where the day went. Therefore, one helpful tip is to manage the interruptions in the environment, and avoid distractions as much as possible.

5. Take Breaks

Poor time management are not necessarily associated with slackers; even workaholics can suffer from the inability to effectively manage their time. Many freelancers work long hours, often overworking themselves to the point of exhaustion. Personal and social life can suffer while the freelancer spends more and more time in the office. Therefore, it is important to take breaks, in order to make long work hours more manageable. Give yourself some freedom, so you can re-approach work with a rekindled spirit.

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Rachel Hyun Kim is a writer for Resource Nation, an online resource that gives advice such as B2B lead generation to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Rachel has written on a variety of topics, ranging from telemarketing services to GPS fleet tracking systems. Feel free to follow Rachel at @rachelhyunkim.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniel Horning February 24, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Love number 2, do you have any specific time tracking tools that you actively use?
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Rachel Hyun Kim February 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I’ve been mainly using Freshbooks, but I hear good things about Toggl and Tick. Thanks for reading!

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Anthony Hutcherson February 26, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Great post. These are all great points. I particularly like point number 2. Time tracking is a fantastic way to gauge your level of productivity. Setting deadlines are vital as well. I have an awesome planner and dry erase board to help me stay focused on important tasks. Thanks for the value!
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Rachel Hyun Kim February 27, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I found time tracking tools to be especially useful, it lets me know exactly where my time is going. Thanks for the comment!

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Lilach Bullock February 27, 2012 at 11:34 am

Great post Rachel:) I think one of the biggest challenges when running your business is managing your time. After all not only do you have to do the work but you also have to get the work and that involves business development and lots of time!

There is never enough time in the day but it’s what you do with it and how productive you are that makes the difference.

Great tips – thanks for sharing:)
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Rachel Hyun Kim February 27, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I often curse that there’s only 24 hours in a day, its not nearly enough time. Oh well, that why people invented time tracking tools. Thanks for the read!
Rachel Hyun Kim recently posted..Inbound Marketing 101: Making the Shift from Outbound to Inbound MarketingMy Profile

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Donna Merrill February 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Great post that we all need to remind ourselves! I appreciate all the tips because even though I know them, I sometimes don’t apply it. I especially resonate with number 3. Prioritizing is something that I feel is very important. I keep an appointment book with me at all times and have it color coded. I start off on the beginning of the week and, as life goes on, there is always re-scheduling. But seeing it on paper, feeling it with pen in hand makes me feel like I’m in control and helps me not to be overwhelmed.
I especially like what you said about our time with our family, friends and ourselves. This is so important to prevent burn out!
Thanks for the tips,
Donna

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Rachel Hyun Kim February 27, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Ooo the appointment book is a great tip, I should have included that in the article. Thanks for the comment!
Rachel Hyun Kim recently posted..Inbound Marketing 101: What is Inbound Marketing?My Profile

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Marc Phillippe Babineau March 3, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Great post! Lots of worthwhile information on managing time that most writers could stand to follow!

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Rachel Hyun Kim March 5, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Thanks so much for reading, glad you enjoyed it!
Rachel Hyun Kim recently posted..Inbound Marketing 101: What is Inbound Marketing?My Profile

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Julie Ann March 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Great article. I struggle with distractions – not just immediate distractions in the environment – but emails and offers, programs and eduction that those emails contain. There always seems to be something new I could learn…which means I am not getting the work done. I have learned to not open emails and opt out of all lists that are not directly related to the project I am currently working on. That is helping quite a bit.

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