Time management tips for freelancers

A 10-step guide to better time management for freelancers

A freelancer’s number one priority is to manage time, not the project on the plate. Because you possess the freedom to determine your work hours, it can sometimes be a hassle to figure out which work schedule is best for you. You might find yourself working late at night or on weekends. If this helps you stay productive, keep at it. But if you want to manage your time better and increase your productivity, then read this guide. 

In this article, you will learn about some tried and proven time management tips for freelancers.

Top 10 Time Management Tips for Freelancers

1. Plan the week’s schedule on Sunday night

You want to start the week on the front foot. And that means starting with the most important task for that week. 

To make sure your week starts productively, you do not want to wake up on Monday morning to plan your daily tasks. It will do you much good to create your work the night before. You might decide to take half an hour of rest in a relaxed week in the evening to schedule your activities for next week.  

This way, you wake up on Monday firing and ready to go!

2. Use the Ivy Lee method for maximum productivity.

time management tips for freelancers


It is tempting to over-assign tasks to yourself when you are self-managed. We might begin to think that we can do more than impossible. It also means that you will eventually switch between different tasks, and in the end, you will not complete any of them.

An incredible way to make sure you get the job done without overloading yourself is to use the “Ivy Lee” method. See how this simple routine works:

  • Write down the six most important tasks you need to finish the next day. On your weekly to-do list, do not write more than six assignments.
  • Give priority to these six tasks in order of significance.
  • Only start with the first task the next day. Then start the second task only when you have completed the first task. 
  • Do the same for the rest of the list. At the end of the day’s work, move all unfinished tasks to a new to-do list for the next day.
  • Repeat this procedure every working day.

Following this disciplined routine will allow you to focus on one task at a time, not allowing your mind to drift towards other tasks on your list. 

3. Use high-energy clocks for deep work.

The most underrated time management trick is prioritizing. If you are one of those who find your energy levels high at the beginning of the day, you might want to start the heavy lifting tasks in the morning. So no sitting around in your inbox or taking meetings during your first hour of work. Instead, start by writing the blog you intend to publish of that half-done design project. 

Productive hours differ from individual to individual. Try to figure out your productive hours and exclude them from your calendar. Block off all distractions. Maximize your work hours to get more work done. Time management is basically using your energy in a way that makes the most of your workday.

4. Schedule meeting appointments in low energy hours

If you are a morning person, you would have performed most of the tasks for the day. That means your nights are a little less hectic. However, you still have some minor tasks, such as deleting your inbox, attending meetings, and sharing your work on social media platforms. Evenings provide the best time to finish off these minor tasks. 

However, if you work better in the evening, do not hesitate to use the morning hours to perform smaller tasks and use your high-energy evenings to run into your big projects.

5. Set a fixed schedule

When you did a 9-5, it was easier to keep track of your working hours and complete your work by the end of the day when you leave the office. A traditional work schedule helped you do that. But as a freelancer, it’s different. You can work out of bed at 8 pm on Saturday (Not advisable!).  

Since there are no concept office schedules, many freelancers usually use personal hours for work and land themselves in a messy schedule.

The most valuable time management routine that any freelancer needs is a fixed schedule. Set a rough schedule along the line of wake up, exercise, go to work, turn off your laptop.

As a suggestion, you can go with the usual work schedule from 9 to 5 or set your work hours in two four-hour periods, with a quick afternoon nap in between. With a schedule, you can ensure that you do not work too much every day and have enough time to relax.

6. Track your time based on the project you are working on

Time tracking is crucial but often ignored part of time management. By tracking the time you spend on a particular project, you can figure out how much time you need for specific projects and plan smarter in the future.

Use time tracking apps such as Jiffy or Todoist that accurately track your time and help you understand your work trends. You may find that you spend less time writing an article for one client than another.

If you charge clients by the hour, tracking your time is particularly important. Apps like Jiffy and Todoist help you keep track of your billing hours.

You can create the client’s within the Jiffy app and check in when you start working on their project. You can use this information later when you send the invoice.

7. Work in short bursts

You might think working for 3 to 4 hours straight is best. But it is not a sustainable mode of operation. You will notice at hour two that you are exhausted, and there is a drop in quality. Using a time management technique like Pomodoro can help you.

The Pomodoro technique helps people to complete tasks with the time they have. It halts your workday of 25 minutes deep work with breaks of 5 minutes in between. Once you have completed four slots of deep work, you will take fifteen minutes to break. How does this technique improve your productivity?

These 25-minute slots create a sense of urgency and encourage you to focus more so you can make the most progress in that time. Also, these forced breaks ensure that you will not be exhausted.

8. Minimize email and social media distractions 

Let’s face it. Social media is a big distraction. At one time or the other, we all have been distracted by that time-eater. It’s either there is a constant notification that brings us back to scrolling through Instagram or gossip that makes us take a quick peek at Facebook on our laptop.  

Do not be surprised. Your inbox is a distraction! Most of us are available in our inbox, replying to every new email. This way, you end up stopping the most important jobs to take care of a small insignificant project.

Installing smart plugins like StayFocusd in your browser can help you stay away from Facebook and other social media platforms. Also, getting an application that blocks social media applications on your phone for a certain period is a prudent move. For your inbox, set up two timelines for which you plan to check your email and reply to new messages.

9. Change your work environment.

Freelancer working in a cafe

If you work outside the home or in an office, it can become quite boring. You might find yourself slowing down in the middle of the week. The best way to make sure that this lull does not affect your work is to change the environment.

Visit a nearby cafeteria or library to give your brain much-needed refreshment. Some freelancers plan to go to their favorite cafe or work from home one day a week if they usually work from their office.

10. Avoid overwhelming yourself

If you take on every project and fill your days with work, you are setting yourself up for exhaustion. The only management advice that many freelancers have lost is that you can say no and balance the number of projects you are undertaking at a time.

Put a limit on the number of projects you undertake at the same time. Granted, you can be approached with newer projects that are very interesting. It is advisable to ask the client for a longer timeline.

Know when you can turn down new projects and keep your workload in line with your capabilities if you want to provide your clients with quality work.

We hope this guide helps you manage your time better, get things done faster, and work with maximum productivity!


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