How to stay on-task and on-time in a freelance career

Freelance careers are perfect for people who are looking for flexibility and control over their work lives, but it’s not all fun and free time. Freelancers need time management skills in order to juggle different projects and multiple clients. Without theses skills, freelancers risk missing deadlines, losing clients, or mismanaging their businesses. Use these five tips for freelance time management to stay on-task, on-time, and ahead of the game.

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Stay Organized

The easiest and most efficient way to stay on-task and on-time is to stay organized. Start by keeping your workspace tidy with any documents or projects sorted and filed appropriately. Next, keep a running task list for daily priorities. Online services like Google Keep, Slack, or Trello are great ways to list and organize your project tasks.

You’ll also want to organize documents and projects on your computer. Use folders either on your desktop or in the Cloud with services like Google Drive, ZoHo, or Workflow Max. Be sure to clearly and accurately title all documents and folders with project names, dates, or clients.

Use Time Tracking Tools

Once you’re organized, you’re ready to get to work! Freelance time tracking tools make it simple to keep track of hours worked per project and client. Apps like Freework make it even easier by using location-based tracking which allows you to track your time the minute you enter your workspace (be it your home office, a coffee shop, or a co-working office). Time tracking tools make it easy to keep track of your billable hours and organizes them based on client and project. Plus, once you’ve completed a project, sending an invoice is a breeze!

RELATED: An Invoicing Guide for Freelancers and Digital Natives

Block Your Time

Time Blocking or Time Batching is a popular method of managing your time by task or project. Start by listing out all of your weekly or monthly tasks and organize them based on project, client, or type of work (e.g. admin and email tasks, creative work, project research, etc.). Next, schedule time each day for specific project or task blocks so that you are working on one type of project/task at a time. Batching work together in this way keeps you focused on each project and eliminates the need to switch between tasks which wastes time and creative energy.Several services exist to make time blocking easier. Try this free Time Blocking Template to get started.

Keep a Routine

You’re organized, tracking your hours, and blocking your time, but if you’re not also keeping a consistent routine all of your hard work could be jeopardized. It’s important to keep a regular and consistent daily routine to manage your time efficiently and stay on-task. By sticking to a routine, you’ll be better able to understand how much work and how many clients you can manage and stick to multiple deadlines at once. A routine will also help you to keep regular work hours and avoid working all the time.

Schedule Free Time

Freelancers appear to have all the flexible free time in the world, but that time can book up fast if you’re not careful. Many freelancers make the mistake of working at all hours. By making yourself available to work all the time, you eliminate time for relaxation, other hobbies, or family and friends which are imperative for a happy work-life balance. Avoid overworking yourself by scheduling unstructured free time each day. An easy way to do this is to outline your regular working hours with your client or simply operate on normal business hours (e.g. 9am-5pm).

Freelance careers offer the flexibility to work any time, anywhere. By staying organized, tracking your billable hours, working in time blocks, keeping a routine, and scheduling free time you’ll be able to stay on-task and on-time for all of your projects and clients.