Effective time management is essential for both professional performance and personal satisfaction, on an individual and corporate level. Essentially, it represents how skillfully we devote the hours of our day to our different goals and obligations.
Time management is a challenge for everyone.
However, freelancers face a particular set of obstacles when it comes to making the most of their time. Freelancing is like juggling several jobs with a couple of different supervisors and requirements. All while in the meantime, you’re also constantly trying to pursue additional work.
Evidently, this makes time management even more difficult than for the average employee, as every day or even every hour of the day may not be the same as the last.
The solution is to establish good time-management routines.
This means automating repetitive tasks, minimizing procrastination, and having a wider picture of the progress you’ve made. Getting the most out of your deep work time and managing personal time is crucial.
For any freelancer struggling with time management, in this article we’ll cover some of the best time management tips and strategies we use to do work in a way that makes us all-round happier and more productive…
Planning ahead doesn’t necessarily seem like a top priority, but it is.
The further ahead you prepare, the more efficient you’ll be in checking tasks off of your to-do list because you’ll have an end in sight and not have to worry about missing anything.
We know that not all of us are planners. Many people like to go with the flow, be spontaneous and dynamic. Taking a prepared, organized approach may feel awkward or limiting for some. Proper plans, however, when formulated in advance, allow individuals and companies to carry out projects, accomplish their objectives, and fulfill their bigger-picture visions…
When you start a project, you’re tempted to start working right away. It could be because you’re overflowing with ideas, or maybe because the project is already familiar to you. In the long run, though, taking your time to prepare first can be far more efficient. It makes it easier to:
- Establish priorities,
- Avoid missing deadlines,
- Prioritize key tasks,
- Minimize the risk,
- And achieve the desired results.
Before starting a new project, you should prepare by making a list of all the steps you will need to take to get to the desired result.
- Organize the tasks by priority and type;
- Make sure that you have a good understanding of your final goal;
- break down what needs to be accomplished to reach those targets;
- then define the desired goals and objectives.
Whether you’re working with a team or alone, strategic planning is a must. When it comes to teamwork, the strategic planning process gives everybody something to focus on and lets you grow and improve as a team. It eliminates uncertainty about deliverable dates and goals, which can simply make the project go smoother, quicker, and be more cost-effective.
Planning ahead saves time, money, and a lot of tension by setting specific objectives and goals that everyone agrees on, and specifying what exactly will be performed in the project.
Focus On A Single Task At A Time (Pomodoro)
The Pomodoro technique was invented by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, as a time management method. The rules are simple: you break down your work into cycles and then take a quick, timed break.
The technique is based on a feeling of urgency manifested in the timer. Instead of feeling like you’ve got countless hours to get things done and inevitably squander those precious work hours on distractions, you know you’ve just got 25 minutes to do as much work as you can. Once four pomodoro sessions have passed, take a 15-20 minute break.
Steps to implement this technique:
- Find out how much work your activity requires and split it into small tasks;
- Turn off all internal and external distractions;
- Activate a 25-minute timer set;
- Only focus on that one task before the timer is over;
- Put a checkmark on your list of tasks that show that you have completed one Pomodoro;
- Take a five-minute break;
- Start over.
Do Work In Batches
We’ve all heard that multitasking is incredibly inefficient, but it’s too easy to slip into it when working on big projects, given that there’s always at least a hundred tasks that have to be completed at any given time.
For these very reasons, you should consider time batching. This productivity method helps individuals work on a group of related tasks during a specified period without interruption. Time batching is designed to minimize workflow disruptions which enhance concentration, attention to detail, and efficiency.
By implementing some of these guidelines around time batching, you can be sure that you’re on the right road to maximum productivity.
How to time batch:
- Group your tasks by function or purpose, and assign them to a specific period;
- Set easy tasks for low-energy parts of your day;
- Set clear goals;
- Set alarms or reminders that will hold you up-to-date with the time periods you have scheduled for the assignments;
- Use the right tools to help you batch your time.
A lot of people have very high standards. Seeking perfection can be good because it means that you appreciate quality, but the anxiety of failing to deliver something less than ideal can be paralyzing. You end up spending too much time on some minor details, and eventually, you don’t have time to work on the most important parts.
There is a big difference between perfectionism and high achieving. Although the intention of perfectionists might seem fine at first, it can have a negative effect on productivity, which is why it’s always a better idea to be a high achiever.
High achievers are more focused on completing the goal and feel proud of what they’ve done, even though the details aren’t perfect. The most important thing is to look at the large picture and spend a small amount of time on things that are not crucial.
You really can’t afford to waste infinite amounts of time on tasks of low importance, just to make sure every detail is perfect. Always make a daily schedule with a few tasks per day and set priorities for your tasks.
You must learn to balance your own expectations of your work with your team’s time and standards if you want to actually finish projects faster.
Delegate & Outsource
It feels like some days, no matter how hard we try, we can’t get ahead of our schedule.
When you work on your own, there is only a limited amount of what you can do in one day, no matter how hard you work.
The most common way to solve this limitation is to learn how to delegate the work to others. If you do that properly, you can build a successful and effective team of people. After that, you can start thinking about how to use the time you’ve freed up by effectively delegating the task.
How to delegate:
- Be direct and define tasks clearly;
- Make periodical (daily, weekly) check-ins ;
- Give constructive feedback and make corrections.
Outsourcing is another great way to eliminate the tasks you don’t have to do yourself. A basic rule of thumb for outsourcing is that anything that is not linked to your core expertise should be outsourced. Spend your time doing what you’re best at and feel free to outsource everything else to someone else.
The Software That Actually Helps You Be More Productive
Technology can have a significant impact on your ability to be productive and manage your time. By incorporating the right software into your stack, you’ll find it a lot easier to concentrate, manage your time and no longer feel like you’re trying to keep your head above the water.
Given the important role of time management for both people and businesses, unsurprisingly there are a number of software companies out there that build software to make peoples’ lives easier & more productive. In fact, we at WP FeedBack are a team that has the same vision – in our case, specifically for web design agency owners…
So, in this section we’ll review some of the best software available to help you manage your time when working on a project.
Eliminate Distraction With Brain.fm
Living in a world that is borderless and virtually connected gives us many advantages, such as talking to friends all over the world, quickly accessing any kind of information, etc. But hyper-connectivity comes at a high price, making it nearly impossible to concentrate and be present in our work.
Fortunately, there are apps that can eliminate distractions, helping you do your job without wasting precious time.
One of these apps is Brain.fm, a website, and a smartphone app that offers two-hour soundtracks created to help you concentrate, relax, or sleep.
There are various kinds of music that influence your brain in different ways. If you’re trying to concentrate, there’s a particular scientific rhythm you can listen to. After subscribing to Brain.fm, you have three options: Focus, Relax, or Sleep. After choosing one, you choose between a number of different themes, such as Beach, Forest, Night sounds, Thunderstorm, and then hit play.
If you work in a loud environment or have difficulty concentrating on your work, Brain.fm is the right choice for you.
Organize Your Projects With WP FeedBack PRO
It’s essential for businesses to stay organized, which is why we as a company set out to systemize and improve the lives of web design agency owners with our software.
So, we recommend WP Feedback PRO, the best way to manage your agency – software specifically designed to get feedback from clients, manage requests and collaborate with your team at scale. Better yet, it comes with built-in time tracking so you know how long each task takes you which makes it incredibly easy to identify bottlenecks in your process.
WP FeedBack PRO enables you to:
- Turn every comment into a task:
- Define a task’s priority;
- Evaluate how long it would take to solve the issue;
- Assign it to a member of the team.
- Know exactly what the client is thinking when they report an issue:
- Where exactly the issue is;
- How urgent it is;
- See exactly what they saw as they were commenting.
- Have all your clients in one place:
- All their websites;
- All their feedback & requests;
- All the team’s tasks.
Time management is just a way of handling priorities. Setting our priorities helps us determine which task we really need to concentrate on and which can be skipped or delegated to someone else.
When you prioritize, make sure you perform the most important and urgent tasks first. But there is a difference between these two types of tasks you should be aware of:
- Urgent tasks need immediate attention and are the ones we focus on because the effects of not dealing with them are immediate;
- Important tasks help us to achieve our goals and are not always immediate.
Block Out Distractions
Even the most productive workers know that it takes time to build focus and a second to lose it. When you need to work for hours, staying concentrated on tasks is far from easy.
Sources of distractions:
- Mobile phone and internet;
Tips for avoiding distractions:
- Focus on your main priorities first;
- Turn your mobile data off;
- Find ways to prepare your mind for work and control internal distractions (you can try meditating before work, for example);
- Get away from things around you that make you distracted.
Create New Habits
The most successful people practice a few key time-management techniques every day. Doing daily routines helps us build new habits.
Some steps on how to build new habits that actually stick:
- Take action for the goals you want to accomplish;
- Start working at the same time every day – this will set your mindset to productivity mode;
- Interruptions are one of the biggest obstacles to your productivity, try to eliminate them;
- Stop multitasking, as this is a productivity killer;
- Get enough sleep.
Conclusion – Don’t Forget To Take Breaks
When people look at someone who’s really productive, it sometimes doesn’t seem like they’re working that hard. The point is that productive people know when to work and when to take a break.
Working 10 hours straight is alright, especially when you’re working hard for a goal, a dream, or even a deadline. But it’s hard for anyone to concentrate and produce high-quality work without giving themselves a chance to relax and take a break.
If it’s hard for you to stop working (something you should never feel guilty about), I find it can help to schedule midday breaks away from a screen so that when you come back you’re really able to focus.
You need to take breaks if you want to be able to do great work.
Over to you – what’s your best practice for finishing projects faster & managing your time? Feel free to let us know in the comments below. 💬