How to Manage Your Time as a Freelancer

Transparent circle headshot

I hope you enjoy my blog post. If you need copywriting coaching and a community, join my academy.

Join The Newsletter!

Get my latest content on business, marketing, and copywriting.

Drowning in tasks and feeling like there’s never enough hours in a day? You’re not alone. A whopping 58% of workers are so busy that they don’t have time to organize their projects.

Workers distraction statistic

But here’s the kicker: it’s not about working more hours, it’s about making those hours count. If you’ve ever thought, “How do I manage my time as a freelancer?”, you’re about to discover some game-changing strategies.

Time to supercharge your productivity, get laser-focused on what truly matters, and turn that chaotic freelance life into a well-oiled machine.

Ready to dive in?

Prioritize Your Freelance Tasks

Alright, let’s get real. Every task on your to-do list? It’s not a VIP. Some are party crashers you can totally ditch, and others? Gold-star VIPs that deserve the red carpet treatment.

Here’s the scoop: 80% of your results come from just 20% of your actions (yeah, that’s the Pareto Principle doing its magic).

Pareto principle examples

So, if you’re still thinking, “How do I manage my time as a freelancer?”, start by giving your tasks a VIP status check.

  • Urgent vs. Important: Look, urgent tasks scream for your attention, but are they getting you closer to your goals? Important tasks, on the other hand, might not be yelling, but they’re the secret sauce to your success.
  • The Eisenhower Box: Ever heard of it? It’s this cool tool that’s like the VIP bouncer for your tasks. It divides them into four boxes based on urgency and importance. And guess what? It’s gonna help you decide who gets the backstage pass and who’s left outside.
  • Ditch the Drainers: Some tasks are pure energy drainers with little ROI. Did you know that on average, freelancers spend half of their time on non-billable tasks? Ouch. Time to cut those loose and focus on tasks that boost your bottom line.

So, next time you’re swamped and everything seems urgent, take a step back. Figure out what’s truly moving the needle for you.

Remember, it’s all about working smarter, not harder. Get that right, and you’ll be sipping margaritas on a beach while your well-prioritized business runs like clockwork.

Breaking Up Client Projects

You’ve got this massive project staring you down, and it feels overwhelming. I’ve been there myself. But what if I told you there’s a way to making any gigantic task feel like a piece of cake?

  • Chunk It Down: Big tasks can be downright scary. But when you break them into smaller, bite-sized pieces? Suddenly, they’re way more doable. Think of it like eating a chocolate bar, one square at a time. Much easier, right?
  • The Pomodoro Technique: Ever tried it? It’s all about working in short, focused bursts. Research shows that our brains are wired for this! Dive deep for 25 minutes, then reward yourself with a 5-minute break.
  • Brain Dump: Feeling overwhelmed? Grab a pen and paper, and spill all those tasks out of your head. Seeing everything on paper can make things way less intimidating. Plus, it’s super satisfying to cross things off. Trust me!

So, next time you’re staring down a beast of a project, don’t stress. Slice it, dice it, and tackle each piece individually. Because remember, every mountain is climbed one step at a time. You’ve got this.

Managing Your Time Better With Tools and Software

In this digital age, if you’re not harnessing the power of tech to up your freelancing game, you’re, well… missing out on some serious magic.

And for all the tech-skeptics out there? Stick with me. Because these aren’t just fancy tools. They’re your new best buds in the “How do I manage my time as a freelancer?” journey.

Time Tracking Tools

Ever wonder where your day went? Apps like Toggl don’t just track time – they’re like little detectives, showing you where every minute goes. It’s not uncommon to see your productivity skyrocket once you start tracking your time.

Toggl homepage

Task Management Maestros

Post-its everywhere? Nah, there’s a better way! Platforms like Asana are like having a personal assistant that never sleeps. They’ll organize your tasks, set reminders, and even give you virtual high-fives.

I use Asana every day for both my business and personal needs. I couldn’t imagine life without it!

Asana dashboard example

Automate, Automate, Automate

Tools like Zapier are the unsung heroes of the freelancing world. They connect your apps, making them chat with each other, and automate those mundane tasks.

Zapier Zaps

That invoice? Sent. That email? Scheduled. That coffee? Okay, you still gotta make that yourself. But hey, two outta three ain’t bad!

Setting Boundaries With Your Time

What’s the trickiest thing about freelancing? If you said, “Drawing boundaries,” ding ding ding! You nailed it.

In the world of “How do I manage my time as a freelancer?”, setting boundaries is like the boss level.

It’s where freedom meets discipline, and guess what? It’s the secret to work-life balance.

  • Designated Workspace: Convert that corner, get a fancy desk, or just claim your kitchen table. I hear from my students that they feel more productive when they have a dedicated workspace. I rented an office in a co-working space for a coupole of years, and it was one of the best investments I ever made.
  • Set Those Work Hours: No, really. Just because Netflix is calling doesn’t mean you should answer during work hours. Decide on your prime working hours and stick to ’em.
  • Notification Nation: Be the boss of your notifications, not the other way around. Silence those non-essential pings and dings. Did you know the average person checks their phone 58 times a day? Time to take back control and focus!
  • Learn the Art of Saying “No”: It’s tough, I get it. But overcommitting is like trying to juggle while riding a unicycle. Spoiler: It doesn’t end well. Protect your time, energy, and sanity. Remember, every “yes” to something is a “no” to something else.

Avoid Multitasking

Here’s something that might shock you: multitasking can drop your IQ by 10 points. That’s right, trying to juggle tasks is like running apps in the background of your phone. It slows you down and drains your battery.

Multi tasking lowers IQ

That’s why I suggest diving deep, not wide. When you single-task, you’re giving that one task 100% of your brilliance. The result? Better work, in less time. Studies show that multitasking can reduce productivity by up to 40%. That’s like throwing almost half your day in the trash.

Every time you switch between tasks, there’s this sneaky thing called a “switching cost.” Your brain needs time to adjust. And those seconds? They add up. By the end of the day, you could’ve completed big freelance projects instead of constantly changing your focus.

I mentioned Pomodora earlier, as well. Set a timer. Pick one task. Smash it out of the park. Rinse and repeat.

“But Carmine, what about those pesky notifications?” Mute ’em. That Google Chome tab with the latest news? Close it. Give your current task all the love and attention it deserves. Your future self will thank you.

Schedule Regular Breaks

As much as hustle culture wants to tell you that we should be grinding 24/7, you need to take a break. Scheduling breaks and downtime is one of the best decisions I made as a freelancer.

Ever noticed how your phone gets glitchy when it’s on 1%? Your brain’s no different. Without breaks, burnout’s just around the corner. And here’s a shocker: 71% of employees say taking regular breaks boosts their creativity and productivity. Mind blown, right?

Breaks at work stats

This makes sense too because the brain goes through cycles of high and low alertness every 90 minutes. So, instead of fighting the lull, embrace it. Take a break. Your brain will reward you with killer ideas and energy on the flip side.

Say “No” to More Things

Alright, lean in close, because I’m about to share one of the most powerful tools in your freelancing arsenal. It’s tiny, but mighty. Just two letters. Ready? It’s “No.”

Austin Powers Mr Evil

Yep, that’s right. In the maze of “How do I manage my time as a freelancer?”, mastering the art of saying ‘no’ is like finding the ultimate cheat code.

Think of your time as a balloon. Every ‘yes’ is a bit of air. Say ‘yes’ too much? Pop! Overcommitting can lead to shoddy work, stress, and burnout. I often hear my students attribute their success to being selective about projects.

Another way to look at it is that every time you say ‘yes’, you’re saying ‘no’ to something else. Maybe it’s family time, a passion project, etc. Before taking on a task, ask: “Is this worth the time I’m trading?”

More projects don’t always mean more success, either. Taking on fewer, value-rich projects can be way more fruitful than juggling a dozen low-reward gigs. Plus, it leaves room for growth and scaling.

And, declining a project doesn’t mean shutting the door forever. Maybe the timing’s off, or your plate’s just too full. Be honest, be polite, and leave the door open for future projects. I’ve had clients come back months later and we have a great engagement.

Bottom line? Saying ‘no’ isn’t about being negative. It’s about valuing yourself, your time, and your craft. It’s a strategic move, ensuring you’re not spread too thin and can deliver your A-game.

Review and Adjust Your Time Management System

You’ve hustled, you’ve strategized, and you’ve tackled that “How do I manage my time as a freelancer?” conundrum head-on. But, here’s the kicker: the freelancing world’s ever-evolving. And to stay ahead, you’ve gotta periodically hit the pause button, review, and pivot. Let’s break it down!

  • Audit Your Actions: Every month (or week, if you’re an overachiever!), take a step back. What worked? What flopped? Dive deep into those analytics. Did you know that people that document their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them? Keep that in mind.
  • Track Those Triumphs: Celebrate the wins! Whether it’s a killer testimonial, a project you aced, or simply mastering a new skill, give yourself a pat on the back. These victories, no matter how small, are the stepping stones to bigger success.
  • Pivot and Improve: Maybe a strategy you loved isn’t delivering anymore. Or perhaps there’s a new tool in town that can boost your productivity. Be agile. Be ready to switch things up.
  • Feedback Loop: Feedback isn’t scary; it’s golden. Whether it’s from clients, peers, or even a mentor, soak it up. It’s like a GPS guiding you towards excellence.
  • Set New Goals: Crushed your goals? Awesome! Now, set some new ones. Push the envelope. Dream bigger. Because, hey, the sky’s the limit!

Final Thoughts on Managing Time as a Freelancer

Managing your time as a freelancer is critical to your success. If you’re distracted, burn out, and confused, you’ll miss deadlines and produce low-quality work. Plain and simple.

That’s why you need to have a system. A plan. Tools and strategies that help you focus and get the best work done in the shortest amount of time.

A few things you can do to achieve that are:

  • Focus on the biggest projects and tasks first.
  • Work on one thing at a time and avoid multitasking.
  • Set boundaries with yourself and clients.
  • Say no to things that suck your time and energy with little reward.
  • Use tools and automation to improve your productivity.
  • Every 2-3 months, take a look at your system and where you can improve it.

Want to learn more about freelancing and marketing? Explore my online programs.

Read Related Content