Yesterday my friend who is also a freelancer, asked me regarding how I manage my time, what’s my secret to effective time management.
I did give him some tips and strategies, he got super motivated and thanked me. And articulating him about my time management, it reminded me that I have always strived to manage, organize and schedule my time.
Watching TV, or movies, or even going out with friends makes me sad. I feel like instead of investing time in those activities, I could focus those hours on my freelance business (Although these breaks are necessary for freelancing productivity, but we will go into that in upcoming articles)
I always search on google, enroll in courses to learn more about how to get more hyper-focused on tasks. And these years of struggle have helped me craft my very own little secret strategies. These strategies have helped me get a minimum of 4 well-managed hyper-productive days in a week. I would be lying to if I say that I stick to the strategies 100% of the time but I try to use them every week to get more focused.
So Let’s dive into these strategies
Time Management For Freelancers Strategy #1: Schedule Your Day
Have you read good old classic “As A Man Thinketh” by James Allen? Here’s what he said: “Your thought becomes reality” that means whatever you think will become a reality.
Check this, Have you ever wondered “hey I thought of this, and this happened” “My instinct said that this will happen and this did happen”, or “I was just thinking about that topic yesterday and I read about it now on newspaper too”, did that happened to you
That’s the proof of what James Allen said is correct.
Our thoughts become reality.
but these thoughts to reality process takes sometime to implement and that is why you should schedule your days to give this mystical power full time to make whatever you thought to be the reality.
And that is why we NEED to schedule our day the night before.
Most people schedule their day early in the morning, but that does not work effectively. You should schedule your day a night before to make this technique work.
Now, most people would schedule each hour of their day. But I tend to dislike that, we as a human love to be free and not get conditioned.
So here’s what I do,
If tomorrow is Monday, then on Sunday night I will write down the tasks I want to do on Monday. But I will note down only the tasks that are important that I must be doing it. I won’t schedule each hour in a day but rather I will block out specific time for each important task. This gives me ample amount of time to be creative (or do fun things) in the rest of the time
For example, I wanted to write this blog post, so I scheduled that from 10.30 PM to 11.15 PM, I will sit and write the article anyhow.
The important word is “anyhow”. When you block your time out then you should be committed to doing that task 100%. There should not be any excuses like “I will do after 10 minutes” or “I will just respond to this WhatsApp and then I will do”.
You have to throw your phone away, get out of that couch and start working on your scheduled task. Remember we are freelancers, our destiny is in our hand. We don’t want to repent but to append successful habits.
Time Management For Freelancers Strategy #2: One BIG Task A Day
Now we as freelancers have a tendency to do a lot of stuff at a random time. And we take pride in calling ourself “multitask legend”.
But do you know that multitasking actually has an adverse effect on your brain and productivity? Yes that’s true, check this Forbes article. Basically our brain is designed to process one task at a time, and doing multitasking reduces our brain’s will power and intelligence cells that help us perform at our highest levels.
Solution? Give undivided attention to one task at a time. Chatting on WhatsApp? Do that without focusing on projects or anything else. Working on a project? do that without getting distracted by anything else.
When you give undivided attention to the things, your brain tends to perform at its peak and releases dopamine that gives you immense satisfaction (if your focus is on primary work)
Remember life is too big, do not get in a hurry of doing everything all the time. If you look at any world’s top leaders be it Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg or anyone else, then you will realize that they gave their full 100% only on one thing at a time. Bill gates didn’t work simultaneously on developing Xbox console and Microsoft OS. (He first became a leader in Operating Systems, then he focused on another goal.)
So what should you do?
Take a pen and paper then think ahead 7 days. What do you want to get done? What will make your week hyper-productive?
Is it learning affiliate marketing? or is it cold emailing? or is it working on a client project in hand?
After that think of how many days it would take you to complete that. For example, if it is a client project then it could take more than a week and that’s okay. Break things down into smaller achievable tasks.
Then each night, schedule your tomorrow with when you would work on the client’s project (Refer to strategy #1). Book your timeslot and focus on that BIG task every time
Now you may say “but Durvesh, I have multiple primary tasks or multiple client projects, what should I do?”
Fear not, I got you covered, what I do is, For example, if I have two projects and also want to learn something where all is important then I will first breakdown the things in smaller primary tasks that can be completed in hours. And then I will schedule my day keeping those smaller primary tasks in mind.
So if out of these two projects one project is to make a mobile app then I will make it my big task like “tomorrow on 9 AM to 10.30A, I will focus on app logic (a part of app dev)” And only after I do that I will focus on other tasks.
Did you get it?
It reduces brain stress when we have multiple tasks, the brain gets overwhelmed in thinking about all of it. So the best thing to do is remove the biggest worry by breaking things down, working on them full dedicatedly, and only after that move to other stuff.
Time Management For Freelancers Strategy #3: Make A Promise To Yourself
This strategy works almost 99% of times. What I do is I promise my self that “I promise to do X (big task) else I will not do Y (pleasure activity)”
It is scientifically proven that our brain loves “Punishment-Reward” system, remember that quote “No Pain, No Gain”? It is so true.
Always make a commitment to yourself with some punishment as a consequence. For example,
- “I promise to write one blog post tomorrow or I won’t watch TV”
- “I promise to complete that course else I won’t login to Facebook”
- “I promise to work on this task till I won’t open new WhatsApp messages”
This strategy is so fun that I absolutely love it. Sometimes I do fail in my promises and the consequences remind me not to repeat it again.
But this strategy works only if you apply punishment you have assigned to yourself. Try it once and let me know if that helped you.
Time Management For Freelancers Strategy #4: After boredom comes the hyper-focus state
We are lazy. Our brain is lazy. So whenever you work on any task that requires high intense focus and brain energy then our brain naturally wants to procrastinate that task in the future.
Do you know the task that you wanted to work but delayed just because you felt bored or unprepared? That is procrastination.
It is filled with a lot of guiltiness, pain, and repentness. We lose a lot of time and energy in doing procrastination than otherwise.
If you decided to do a task on your scheduled time but on that time you felt to delay it then do not fall in a trap instead work on the task for at least 15 minutes without any distraction.
Silent your phone, close any opened chrome tabs and focus on that task. First 10 minutes of any tasks are boring and take a lot of will power, but if you successfully pass first 10-15 minutes then your body and brain get into a zone which is known as “hyper-focus” state.
And this is not random talk but imagine yourself, do you remember when you used to hate studies but when sit with a book in hand, after some time you would feel good? yes that is a hyper-focus state.
Another example: Its 12.33 AM, I am still writing an article for which I assigned time slot of 10.30PM-11.15PM. So I am working on it extra 60 minutes as I got super focused on completing this article.
Time Management For Freelancers Strategy #5: Stop Saying Yes To Everything
We, freelancers, say “YES” to everything whether we already know it or not. We beleive that “I will learn and get that thing done” but it’s important to know that we have very limited time in hand every day, and we should be spending that time by focusing on what matters to us more.
If we focus on tasks that are irrelevant to what you wanted to do in life then that will negatively hamper our progress and projects in hand. What seemingly small task can eat up hours each week.
So do not go after some shiny task or project just because it involves more money. Get the things in hand done and then only move to more projects.
Learn to Say No to Earn More 😉
Those were my 5 strategies for freelancers for effective time management. There is no one strategy fit all so feel free to modify and update as you pleased. Remember the point is to manage your time effectively so do what makes you hyper-focused and productive.
If you want to learn about productivity apps then check my this post,