Time Management for Freelancers: 10 Hacks to Try

Managing your time as a freelancer is essential. After all, the more productive hours you put in during the day, the faster you’ll finish your projects – a huge bonus, especially if you charge a set rate. 

With no-one checking in to see how your workload is going, staying on top of time management is going to put you in the fast lane to freelance success.

So, how can you effectively work smarter, and not harder, by taking control of your workday? 

Let’s take a look at efficient time management for freelancers with these 10 handy hacks. 

1. Alleviate Distractions

With research suggesting that our collective global attention span is narrowing, maybe it’s no surprise that struggling to focus is often a common freelance complaint. 

One of the best tips for time management for freelancers is to minimise distractions wherever possible. When you’re the boss, it’s highly tempting to check in on social media, find the latest news, or spend time looking for that latest must-have product that you don’t really need. 

To avoid being distracted during your work time, set aside designated time for breaks and lunch. Many freelancers don’t have a set schedule like those working in-house, but making time for relaxation gives you a period to focus on other things, whether it’s texting a friend or updating your Instagram account. 

2. Prioritise Your Workload

Prioritising your workload means successful time management for freelancers. You can either write down all your tasks in a notepad or you can use a tool like Google Tasks. Time management tools like this one are perfect for keeping a digital log of actions you need complete. 

With Google Tasks, you can write down each task, noting start and end dates. This makes prioritising your workload easy. A similar tool is Todoist which allows you to create daily to-do lists and prioritise your tasks in order of how important they are. 

3. Get Organized Properly

It’s difficult to use your time productively when your work life is all over the place so organize your projects with time management apps. 

Plan your meetings with Google Calendar, keep client notes and projects documented in Google Drive, and use Google Hangouts to communicate with clients or team members. 

Keeping organized prevents time wasting, especially if you struggle to remember where you’ve placed things. 

4. Meditate

You may assume that time management for freelancers revolves around apps or tools. In fact, one of the best things to enhance time management for freelancers may be meditation.

Meditation can enhance productivity levels by 120%, helping you to stay focused. That’s because when you’re practising meditation, you’re learning to concentrate on the present moment, eliminating distractive thoughts. 

time management
Meditation has been proven to increase your productivity, making a it a great way to improve your time management. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.

You can find many meditation exercises on YouTube, however, there are meditation apps like Headspace and Calm which enable you to learn how to stay present.  

5. Don’t Forget to Take A Day Off

As a freelancer, it can be tempting to work as many hours as you can. However, this is likely to lead to burnout. Rest and relaxation is a recipe for healthy time management for freelancers, as well as helping to alleviate stress and anxiety.

You may not be able to schedule a full weekend of fun if you’ve got a packed schedule, but prioritising a day to yourself is beneficial in the long run. 

6. It’s OK to Turn Down Work

If your plate’s already full, don’t be afraid to turn away new clients. Taking on more clients than you can manage can lead to disaster, especially when it comes to your stress levels. 

To manage your time effectively, decide on your monthly income goal and how many projects you can take on to meet that goal. This method will prevent you from taking on more work than you can handle.

7. Create Boundaries

Some clients may be more demanding of your time than others. As a freelancer, set clear work boundaries for your client projects. This includes specific times during the day when they can contact you, using a clear brief to set out your project to avoid hiccups along the way, and using clear communication if any issues arise. 

8. Don’t Undersell Yourself

If you’re not charging enough for your freelance services, you may find you’re working more hours to make ends meet. Effective time management for freelancers means setting higher rates to ensure your time is spent wisely

Charging a higher rate for your services also means you’re booking fewer clients, so you can confidently set a clear work routine with rest breaks. 

9. Make a Plan for Each Day

If you’ve got a mountain of tasks to get through in a day, start small. Alternatively, a good tip for time management for freelancers is to schedule your day into blocks. For example, you may spend the first hour of your day managing your emails and replying to contacts. 

time management
Creating a plan for each day will keep you on track and make everything seem more manageable. Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels.

Trello is an ideal tool for planning your daily routine – you can colour code your projects, work with clients and map out a daily schedule.

10. Try the Pomodoro Technique

Classic time management exercises like the Pomodoro Technique are well-known for aiding productivity. The method behind this technique is to work in short sprints of time, taking regular breaks to boost your motivation. 

After choosing a task to work on, set a timer for 25 minutes and work until the timer beeps. Then, take a short break of 5 minutes until you’re ready to move on to another task. 

You can use an app like Focus Booster to track your Pomodoro sessions. 

Better Time Management for Freelancers

Try these time management hacks for freelancers to see which work best for you.

While getting into a consistent routine can be challenging, especially if you’re new to freelancing, better time management starts with a solid strategy for completing your client work. 

If you’re searching for more meaningful freelance work, Work for Impact can help. We connect freelancers to nonprofits and socially and environmentally responsible organizations. Sign up here to start finding impactful work opportunities.