Time-management tips every freelancer must know

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If you were to conduct a survey among freelancers asking them what they love the most about their lifestyle, chances are that the most-cited answer would probably relate to time. Despite the uncertain income, there are definite advantages in not having to live out one’s life by the clock! However, too much of a good thing can cease to be ‘good’.

Time management for freelancers is more important than for regular employees because they have nobody to account to except themselves. If you’ve been wanting to improve your time management skills, here are a few time management tips from freelancers themselves.

Time management for freelancers to improve work/life balance

1. Create a routine

While working to a routine may seem to run counter to a freelancer’s desire for flexibility, it can minimize a lot of stress and help you stay productive. Says Supriya Ram, a freelance content writer, "Often people don’t realize that working from home is still work that needs to be taken seriously. Creating a routine and letting people know that I have fixed work hours helps me complete important tasks.”

Even if you don’t have a fixed time that you can follow every day, schedule your day the previous evening, prioritizing your tasks and tackling the first item on your list at the beginning.

2. Block out clear pockets of time for certain activities

You may find that you have a natural peak period when you are functioning at your optimum efficiency. Use this window to get big chunks of work done. Schedule your body’s downtime for admin tasks or other activities that do not require intense concentration.

Kritika Preetham, a freelance web designer says, “I schedule time separately for creative activities and administrative tasks. When I am designing, I prefer to be free from distractions and do not even open my email inbox. I also try to keep pitches on one day, follow-up calls on another and so on. This ensures that I get tasks that are important only in the long term, done. Else, I would tend to let it slip.”

3. Don’t reinvent the wheel every single time

Often, many activities can work better with templates. For instance, if you receive 50 emails in a day, are there categories into which you can place these mails? Responses to initial inquiries could be one category, following up on a first call could be another, your rate card could be a third. The idea is to identify patterns, create templates and respond with minimal customization.

4. Set yourself a deadline

Estimating the time you’ll take for a particular task is an essential skill. Set yourself a reasonable deadline that is at least 20% ahead of your actual deadline. This 20% is buffer time that allows you to respond to unplanned incidents.

5. Track your time

Time tracking apps can help improve time management skills provided you are systematic about filling up the sheet. A time tracking app makes you conscious about how you spend your time. After a month or so, you’ll be able to identify trends and eliminate time wasters.

More to add to the list? Add your thoughts here.

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