Being a freelance designer – not having a boss around while organizing your own time at your own pace, in whatever scenery you choose, may sound like a dream come true.
Or the worst nightmare, if you often find yourself stuck with deadlines, working 24/7, or being forced to turn down the job since you just can’t fit it in your schedule. Read on to find out some Time Management Tips and Techniques for Freelance Designers
To avoid such situations and advance your chances of excelling in your job, you should try and make use of time management tips and techniques which best suit your personal needs.
Here are some that we recommend.
Fit Your Time to Your Workload
Some freelancers can, as their job requires, easily jump from one task to another, or spend a few hours daily on different meetings.
As a designer, your job is mainly to focus on details, so switching between tasks is usually a bad idea since you can easily lose the idea you had or your focus.
So most of your working hours should be undisturbed by different interactions, except for those which could bring you closer to fulfilling your aim.
Limiting your time for interactions with clients and potential collaborators as well as reducing the number of daily tasks could be a step forward to better organizing your work.
Follow Your Own Clock
Each of us has an internal clock which reflects our own energy levels, and we should follow it whenever it’s possible.
For some, mornings are best for getting important things done – time to research, trying out new ideas or putting those little finishing touches before the deadline.
For others, like myself, mornings are the perfect time for checking and responding to emails and planning out the day ahead, while having coffee in some vibrant surrounding, preferably alone.
Determining your prime time can be of great help for planning your daily activities, and in order to be able to do so, you should observe your daily activities over the course of a few weeks and find out when exactly during the day your energy levels are high.
These peaks should be reserved for the tasks which require your undivided attention, as well as your creativity or your concentration.
Limit Time Snatchers
As freelance designers job requires many hours in front of a PC, you can easily end up spending a lot of time procrastinating, while finishing a chat with your significant other on Facebook messenger, or writing a tweet or a comment on a news article you have just read.
A few short phone calls with your friends and family can seem like no big deal, but they can set you off your mind flow, and make you lose that great idea you’ve just had.
Once you are aware of how much time you waste and on what, it will be easier for you to make some serious changes to your schedule and to avoid time wasters in the future.
Checking emails every hour or so can also be a huge distraction, so handling time in an organized manner is an important step to take.
Even research studies have established that people on average spend more than 5 hours a week checking their email.
One of the ways out of this vicious circle is muting your notifications, checking your inbox twice during your work hours, and responding only to the urgent emails while dealing with the rest at some other time during the day.
Track Your Time
Apart from keeping your distractions at bay, it’s worth knowing exactly how much time you have spent on which project, and each task specifically.
This isn’t important only for billing purposes, but also for better planning your work in the future.
The general advice is to track everything, including your snacks and breaks, so after a certain period, you’ll have precise data on how long it takes to finish any given project.
You can use a reliable time card calculator, like Clockify, to track how much you actually work and earn.
This data is valuable for planning your upcoming projects.
What you should also remember is to allow for some extra time for every task in case that something unexpected happens, such as a sudden power outage or something else that might prevent you from meeting your deadlines.
By doing so, you can avoid missing the deadline because of some random situation which comes unexpectedly, which happens more often than we can imagine.
Besides, knowing which projects are worth investing your time into will help you decide what to accept and what to turn down, thus additionally optimizing your efficiency and productivity.
Find Your Space
Working in a suitable, motivating setting will make a world of difference in terms of your productivity.
If you work from home, which is often a perk reserved for freelancers, you can easily end up with bad lighting, unsuitable furniture, and too many distractions unless you somehow make that space separate from your living space.
Similarly, if you need some fresh ideas and perspective, maybe the right way to get them is not sitting on your most comfortable sofa, with a laptop in your hands, but in some lively cafe while you’re sipping your coffee.
Pick your workspace and plan your time for every crucial segment of work that needs to be done.
Try Out Different Time Management Techniques
Apart from tracking time, there are some other time management techniques which you could try out and choose the one which best fits your needs.
One of them called Pomodoro, according to which you should split your work into four 25-minute sessions, followed by 5-minute breaks and a longer, 20-minute break after each cycle, might be good for keeping you focused.
Or you can try using the Timeflow technique, which advises you to choose an experimental timeframe for your future activity, between 10 to 90 minutes.
After that time is up, you can check whether you’re still focused on your work, and in that case, you continue working.
However, if you see that you’re absentminded and not particularly concentrated, take a break and set a new timeframe.
By recognizing the importance of good time management as an essential productivity skill, you will boost your efficiency and maybe leave some time for what is really most important – yourself!
Marko Maric is a marketer currently working at Clockify. He is specialized in business, management, and productivity.
Also published on Medium.