7 Useful Time Management Tips for Freelancers

Being a full-time web design freelancer, you’d know the perks of being your own boss. You get to choose your clients, your projects and in some cases, even your pay! However, this freedom of decision making and being accountable only to yourself can hamper your work structure.

The following time management tips will help you better plan your work schedule.

1. Time is Money and vice versa.

Now, you may wonder how money qualifies as a time management tip; but really, it does. As a full-time freelance web designer, increasing your income heavily depends on how much time you put in. Taking up small projects in higher volumes will burn you out without giving you a sizable monetary gain. Keep track of the market rate for Web, UI/UX design services and charge competitively. On the flipside, if you charge higher, chances are you’ll get fewer, more interesting projects to work on. Why not work for fewer clients and make more money? Money is not just an enabler, it is also a motivator and must be factored in when you plan your project timelines.

2. Plan your Client Meetings

You must have experienced a client meeting that was scheduled to last only an hour, but somewhere between hot coffee and warm ideas, the meeting spilled over three hours. Before your meeting, create an agenda and share it with all the attendees. Set clear goals for your meeting by listing out all necessary points that both, your client and you wish to discuss; carry printouts, if necessary. During the meeting, watch the clock for how much time is being spent on each topic and be sure to cover the most important ones first.

3. Create a To-Do List. And Stick to it.

You must prioritize your work and plan your schedule to the T. Create a reasonable to-do list that encompasses your work goals. Don’t insert 10 goals when you can only cover 3 or 4. Follow a routine by smartly dedicating enough time for work and for breaks and leisure activities. You can use the Eisenhower Matrix to efficiently organize your work priorities. Avoid aimlessly browsing instagram and wandering around the web.

4. Understand the Project Before You Begin.

This is a biggie. Some clients will send you plans, templates, examples, and references but others may send you very little information. This will surely put you in a maze. To avoid being confused later, get your clarifications before you begin working on the project. In case more question arise along the way, make sure to have them addressed before you commit to the delivery dates. Make a note of the processes, clarifications and change requests that have been exchanged for your reference. Share them with your client to ensure you both are on the same page.   

5. Set Realistic Timelines

Every project is different. Depending on the complexity of the project and your experience, you must commit realistic deadlines. Refer to projects completed in the past and make projections and guided estimates for the future. Be firm with clients that push you to complete projects faster. For less intensive projects, you can schedule tighter deadlines. For larger, more intense projects, break down your deadlines and deliver the project in phases. In case there is a project or module that you dislike, consider completing it first. Many UI/UX designers use the Pomodoro Technique of breaking down work into intervals as this helps to meet deadlines and stay more productive.

6. Take a Productive Break

There are gloomy days when you sit in front of your laptop, but you just can’t get yourself to begin work. However, that shouldn’t deter you from taking up other productive work. You can update your resume, add completed projects to your portfolio, sort out the clutter on your computer hard drive, go over upcoming schedules, find new clients and projects, research on that new tool you wanted to learn, and so on. An off-day can be inspirational if you look back at your bank of accomplishments – it may prompt you to find that spark to begin work again.

7. Learn to Say No

You must be careful about how much work you can commit to. Carefully pick projects that you are confident of delivering as you will be tempted to take on various projects at once. However, you cannot say yes to every project that comes your way. Learn to decline and say no to client offers to better plan your work schedule and manage your time. This is also applicable to existing projects that are hit by last minute changes. Ask your client for more time instead of working in haste and rushing to meet pre-decided deadlines.  

Also published on Medium.

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