My plate is already full of work. I don’t need any more clients……
…..said no freelancer ever!
As freelancers, we are in constant pursuit of work. We’re chasing new clients and, if our work is good (and we’re lucky), we have clients chasing after us.
In fact, it’s a freelancer’s dream: to have a never-ending stream of work (and paychecks!)
But, how do you manage so much work without compromising on quality?
In this article, I’ll talk about how managing your calendar and time planning can help improve your productivity as a freelancer.
Let’s get started.
Ways to Increase Productivity and Improve Performance
Want to increase your performance and productivity as a freelancer? You’ll have to learn to use your calendar as a time management tool. You have more control over your time than you give yourself credit for. One of the easiest ways to control your time is by controlling your calendar.
We’re all given the same measure of time each day. You have 24 hours – which translates to 1,440 minutes – to work with each day. You have the same amount of time as did Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, and Einstein.
You have the same number of hours and minutes each day as does Bill Gates or the President of the United States. Your productivity won’t be predicated on how much time you have, but rather on how you use that time to complete your most important tasks.
Here’s how you can leverage your productivity by leveraging the use of your daily calendar.
1. Plan Your Work
You start to control your time by planning your day. Take 10-15 minutes every morning to plan your work. Each day is unique. Schedules change, and so do our priorities.
Taking time every morning to review your schedule – and scheduling priorities – is how you’ll start to control your calendar.
2. Create a Master List Then Prioritize
We all have important tasks or projects to complete, but not every task or project carries the same priority. Create a “master list” of all of your important tasks and projects. Once the master list is created, prioritize it.
By the way, create an editable master list. Why? Because things change – including priorities. You’ll need to adjust your list and your calendar regularly to address those priority changes.
3. Use Most Productive Hours for Your Most Important Tasks
Not only is each day unique but each of us is a unique individual. We’re cyclic creatures. Our energy levels peak and wane at different times. Psychologists refer to these emotional peaks and valleys as biorhythms.
Increasing your performance and productivity means knowing how to use your biorhythms to your advantage. If you’re a morning person, you’ll want to schedule important tasks when your energy and attention span is highest. If your energy levels are higher in the afternoon or evening, schedule accordingly.
4. Incorporate 80/20 into Your Daily Plan
Using the 80/20 rule makes a lot of sense when it comes to time management. Studies show that 80 percent of your productivity will come from 20 percent of your activity. And, 20 percent of an 8-hour day is 96 minutes.
Look at your calendar and see if you can calendar 90 minutes to work on your most important project. It doesn’t have to be 90 continuous minutes. Schedule three 30-minute segments or two 45-minute blocks of time to deal with your priority project(s).
5. Work in Intervals
Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique? If not, let me share it with you.
Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique developed in the late 1980s. This technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, usually 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. And, each interval is known as a Pomodoro.
So, why am I telling you all this?
Because I want you to use this technique and see the results for yourself.
This is what I do: I work for 25 minutes at a time (nothing but just work), and then take a 5-minute break. During this break, I stretch, grab a cup of coffee, play with my kids, call a friend or just look out the window. I completely forget about the work in those 5 minutes.
This technique will help you detach yourself from the work, and to turn on or off your working mind at your own freedom.
6. Just Say “No”
As you plan your day and work your plan, you’ll come across some challenges. The greatest challenge you’ll likely face is your clients, wanting to make their priorities your priorities. Don’t let that happen!
In the quest for satisfying clients, I’ve seen people sacrificing their family time. Don’t do it and learn to say no.
If it’s getting overwhelming then just politely tell your clients, “I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to handle that in the way it deserves. But thanks for thinking of me.”
7. Treat Freelancing as a Job
After 8+ years of full-time freelancing, this is what I’ve learnt: Treat freelancing as a job.
Throughout my freelancing career, I’ve been through a lot of great times and countless rough spells. At times, my family life has suffered and I’ve disappointed my friends by not showing up at hangouts. Why? Because I often found it hard to “leave” work.
As I’ve normally worked from home as a freelance copywriter so my only tool was the laptop, and it was with me everywhere. So, I’ve seen myself overworking and feeling burned out at the end of the day.
I’d strongly recommend you to set up office hours with your clients, confidently let them know how you work and why, and stick with it.
8. Start Now!
Hesitancy, fear, and self-doubt all fade with action. Once you have your priority list in order, commit to taking action on the top three. You’ll validate that commitment by scheduling time on your calendar to start working on one of your most pressing tasks.
Break the task or project into small actions and take those actions at the appropriate time.
I’ve seen people quit their 9-to-5 job and corporate rat race just so that they can enjoy a more flexible schedule with freelancing. But, once you start working as a freelancer, it’s natural to get engulfed with more and more opportunities heading your way.
In this article, I covered 8 really simple steps that revolve around controlling your calendar and prioritizing your tasks. As freelancers, it’s very easy to get caught up with work. So, it’s important to streamline your workflow so that you don’t miss out on critical deadlines and/or compromise on your work quality or family life.
Now that you’re equipped with these 8 smart tips, it’s time to bring the FREE back in FREELANCING!
This article originally appeared on my blog The iExpress Blog.