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Freelance: it requires time management

Posted over 7 years ago by Ellie Tibbs
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Pitch’s freelance division has gone from strength to strength and we’re on a mission to make the world of freelance a better place. We know that sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference – so, welcome to the second installment of our freelance series, where we’ll offer advice to all current or aspiring freelancers nationwide.

This article will consider the aspects of time management that you’ll need to stay on top of in order to enjoy the professional and personal benefits of that freelance life.

Flexibility to design your days/weeks/months is often a key motivator in choosing the life of a freelancer, however the reality is often many hours organising and prioritising your time, especially if you are working remotely, rather than on-site. Planning is essential and mastering the art of managing your schedule may be the difference between independent contractor success and freelance-flop.

Working on a contract basis often means you may not be working a typical 9-to-5 workday so you’ll need a strategy to plan your work, and ensure your projects are completed on time and ultimately deliver the work/life balance that perhaps attracted you to the world of freelance in the first place.

Here’s our guide on how to manage your time effectively, allowing you to simultaneously produce top notch work, gather serious CV kudos and build an enviable network of industry contacts:  

–      Learn the rules

Even though you’re not a permanent member of staff, as a freelancer / contractor your client will need you to work to their core rules and regulations; for example, unless it’s been specifically agreed at the outset it’s crucial that you’re in the office on time (or logging in remotely if you’re working off-site) – no matter how awesome your skills are, the number one cause of clients not extending contract bookings is when freelancers are frequently late.

–      ­Commit to non-negotiables

Although you may have a booking that allows you to choose to begin and end your day outside of the traditional 9-5pm, there will inevitably be requirements within your role that limit flexibility. For example, if your manager requires a face-to-face team meeting, make sure it’s firmly in your calendar. Your work hours, life admin and errands must be scheduled around the non-negotiable appointments. 

–      ­Clarify your deliverables 

Whether working on-site or remotely, the key to mastering your daily routine is knowing what you’re expected to deliver and when. Enjoying the freedom of self-scheduling work only when you can guarantee that the work will get done, on time and as committed. If you’re working remotely it’s especially important to make regular contact and supply updates regarding each one of your deadlines. This means you’ll avoid anyone wondering what it is that you’re up to, when you’re not visible in the office.

–      Optimum time for productivity

Different people are more productive at different times. When you’re working remotely, the very best thing about flexible work hours is that ability to choose to work when you’re at your most energetic and productive. This almost always allows you to do your most important and challenging tasks to the best of your ability. You’ll get things done quickly and efficiently when you pay attention to this; if you’re an early bird or night owl, schedule your working hours to leverage your peak productivity times. 

–      Find your rhythm

You may or may not work alongside a team that need to know when you’re coming or going. If you do, make it easy for them and help them by establishing a regular routine of availability that means they know when you will be coming in or can be contacted about progress with the latest project. Not every day has to be scheduled the same, but it will help your employer or client if they know what your general working pattern is.

–      Be wary of Morning Bias

Benjamin Franklin is quoted to have said, "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” – there’s a chance your manager believes this too! When you’re working remotely, when you’re mapping out your schedule, be aware that management may associate early mornings with more conscientious employees, regardless of whether you’re a permanent member of staff or a contractor. This is down to perception rather than reality, coming back to points made above, if you’re not an early bird, make an effort to keep everyone in the loop, making sure you’re aligned with your specific deliverables.