Quite often I get asked, “How are you able to get so much done with your time?”
I, more often than not, feel very overwhelmed with everything on my to-do list, yet, I somehow manage to accomplish what needs to get done. Some minor tasks do fall through the cracks, and unfortunately many of my own ideas get put on the backburner, but, I do manage to get things done.
So how do I get everything done?
Let me elaborate; here are my five habits that help me get more done with my time.
1. I dedicate my time and set boundaries
With every job there is a work schedule and a set amount of hours you’re suppose to work within a week. Your freelancing should be no different. Although you get to work your own schedule, you still need to treat your freelancing like a regular job.
Set days of the week and hours that you will only dedicate to work and nothing else. It’s also important to make sure the people you live with with know these set hours, so they can try their best not to interrupt you while you’re working.
More than likely you’re working from home. This is one perk of freelancing, but it can also be your downfall unless you set proper boundaries. I’ve been working from home for a few years now, and it can be challenging to maintain the discipline to be productive, but simple awareness of poor home-working habits can go a long way toward increasing your effectiveness.
Working from bed is a great example of setting boundaries, because that’s where you sleep. To bundle up and attempt to work will most likely result in you taking a few unexpected naps. Separating where you work and where you relax can benefit your productivity tremendously, so set boundaries where needed so you can eliminate all possible distractions.
2. I don’t take phone calls
The best form of communication for me personally is email. Not because I’m that much of an introvert, but, because an email doesn’t interrupt or pull my full attention away from what I’m currently working on. I also prefer the recorded back and forth with my peers and clients.
Unless a client messages me to give them a call or it’s my fiancé, I do not answer the phone while I’m in the middle of something. If I need to make a phone call, I wait until I get to a good stopping point with whatever it is I’m working on.
This may not be the same for everyone, but I work best when I can focus solely on the work I produce. Then I make phone calls and sort through my emails when I have the time throughout the day—Typically early morning or in the evening.
3. I work seven days a week
It’s very rare that I allow myself a full day off, and this is something I personally struggle with. I really enjoy what I do that most days it hardly feels like work, but when I have a deadline to meet or I want to ensure my client’s happiness, I put a lot of weight on my shoulders to make progress on every project – every day.
I admit that I’m a workaholic. Something I’m proud, but also ashamed of. If it weren’t for my fiancé, I’d probably never step away from my computer.
There is no one else to run my freelance business. Only I can find my clients, estimate projects, manage projects, send invoices, communicate with my clients, budget money, do my taxes, be my own IT support, market my services, run my blogs, and develop my own products. Yeah… There’s a lot to handle in my freelance business.
I’d be interested in hearing what goes on in your freelance business. Feel free to share in the comments!
As you can see there are countless tasks that only I can do for my business, and the stress to keep my business afloat is the main reason why I end up working seven days a week. I don’t recommend this – it’s just how I manage to get everything done on time.
4. I’ve established a routine
On a typical work day I start by waking up around 6–7am. I eat breakfast, take a shower, then get fully dressed as if I were going somewhere to work rather than wearing pajamas all day. (Remember, setting boundaries is important.)
The majority of my time is spent on client projects – designing logos, t-shirts, mocking up websites, etc. When I’m all caught up with client work I then focus on my side projects and building my freelance business.
I stop work for lunch for an hour or so, then it’s back into my office to continue work. I often work until 5–8pm, it depends on the workload for the day. Then I have dinner and enjoy the rest of the evening with my fiancé.
It’s in the evenings where I spend most of my time responding to emails, writing blog posts, and planning future projects.
After freelancing and adjusting how I work over the years, this is how I’ve found I work best. You too need to experiment with your schedule. What days and hours work best? Maybe you work better in pajamas, or maybe you only want to work three days a week rather than five or seven.
5. I set deadlines and hold myself accountable
Over the years of going to school, working with clients, and bringing my own ideas to life, I’ve discovered how important is it to set deadlines for everything I do. Without having a deadline and an “on-time” attitude, you’ll be running in a race without knowing how far it is to the finish-line.
If you give yourself the freedom to say, “I’ll get to it eventually”, it will never get done. Make a strict deadline and stick with it for everything you have to do! Even better, make a public announcement and have your peers hold you accountable. Putting your reputation and reliability on the line will really help keep you focused on always meeting your deadlines.
Freelancing gives you the ultimate freedom to do whatever it is you’d like to do. You’re making your own path.
Being able to control all aspects of your business also means being forced to control all aspects of your business. Sometimes, the hardest aspect of your business to control can be yourself.
I hope by sharing these five habits with you, it can help you find what habits work best.
What are your time management tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!