As a freelancer, my work is often pretty varied from week to week.
Sometimes I find my days swallowing me whole and sometimes I have a little free time to work on some personal branding or other things (like catching up on my latest TV addiction…). I have to admit, this has been a really hard adjustment for me.
I am someone who thrives on routine, and the lack of it in my life the past two months has been both challenging and rewarding.
I wanted to share three tools I’ve utilized thus far that have made such a difference in how I manage my time. To put my job in perspective, I work both on a freelance website and off. I would say my work on the freelance website accounts for about 60% of my total work. There are some weeks where I have ten orders to do and some weeks where I have six. I have a couple consistent clients outside of this website that I do work with on a daily or weekly basis as well. These are easier to measure out time allotments, workload, etc.
I am also building up my business, so I have to be sure to allot time to brand and market myself. I love writing personal blog posts, such as this one, and sometimes they can get put on the back burner when I have work for clients due.
It’s all about balance and finding what works for you.
These are ways I’ve helped myself, and I’d love to hear what has helped you in your daily life and/or business!
1. 17 Hats
If you are a business owner, I highly recommend this software. At a little under $200 per year, you have to first make the investment. However, I promise it is worth it! 17 Hats encompasses so many aspects of a business all in one place. You can send contracts, answer emails, have invoices paid, and separate work by client/project. This has been tremendously helpful in time tracking for each client! My favorite feature is the to-do list. Each day, I log on and see what is due that day. I spread things out as much as possible, and these lists make it easy to differentiate between what I need to focus on. My favorite part is that you quite literally can check things off your virtual to-do list. I will admit, I was skeptical at first. I didn’t know if something like this would be worth it. It has allowed me so much freedom in running a business as it gives me all the tools I need in one place. If you’re thinking of joining 17 Hats, please get in touch! I have a discount code for you. You can also try it for a month risk-free with money back, which was a huge selling point for me. After using it for a week, I was sold. (This is not sponsored, I’m just obsessed!)
2. iPhone Calendar
This may sound like a given, but I’ve begun to learn the importance of putting things on a digital calendar as well as a physical planner if needed. Often times, my phone calls are what I need to remember most. I have certain set times for clients as well as some that vary, and keeping them on my phone and setting a 30 minute reminder before is a great way to make sure I don’t miss a call. I like to make sure that when I have an appointment, I call right at that time. This helps ensure I do! I also work part time at a yoga studio to help myself stay serene and get out of the hours for a few hours every week. Putting this in my calendar helps me look at the big picture. For example, if I know I will be away from my computer for four hours on Wednesday, I can plan my work around that and make it heavier on Tuesday.
3. Gmail Organization
One tip I’ve learned is to only keep an inbox full of items that still need to be addressed or answered. I created folders and labels for every client and will organize emails into those folders once I have answered or completed the emails. You have to find the system that works best for you, but mine has ensured that I don’t leave emails unanswered. My goal is to answer every email within 24 hours. This also helps me to look back if there is ever any confusion and keep a written record of my responses, deadlines promised, or costs calculated if I discussed them with a client.
Thanks for reading! If you have other ideas for helping with time management, please feel free to send them my way! I am always open to new ideas and things to try!