It was Benjamin Franklin who said that time is money, and although centuries have passed since then, not much has changed. It’s particularly true in the world of the self-employed, and successful freelancers around the world are the ones who illustrate the significance of good time management and optimizing billable hours.
What has become evident nowadays is that the problem with workplace productivity isn’t about using the best and latest apps, but that it takes a shift in perception towards examining human behaviour and finding out the reason why most people struggle with getting the work done efficiently.
Being a freelancer means you’re your own boss and whether you work from home or a co-working space, you are the one who creates the time schedule and manages tasks. It can get quite overwhelming at times, so here are some tested practices that may help you get more done in a smart way.
Make your NOT-to-do list
To-do lists are a great way to organise your daily tasks and maintain your order and focus, but an equally valuable list is the one that outlines what you’re NOT supposed to do during the day. These are the things most of us turn to in order to avoid the real work, such as checking emails more than once a day, spending more than one hour on a single task or checking Reddit before finishing hours. Lists of things not to waste your time on will vary, but it all comes down to making yours real by putting it on paper and recognising the time-consuming tasks only disguised as work.
Batch processing really means dividing your work tasks into sets or groups, so you can devote your time to each task all at once and ban yourself from leaving it for later, or getting back to it several times during the day. It means that one batch of work has been done and you can set it aside without worrying about it anymore.
One aspect where batching can really help is emails. Most of us spend hours on end in our inboxes and waste valuable time. Instead, single out a batch of time reserved only for responding to emails and networking at the end of the day and do it only then. If there’s a lot to be done, set up multiple batches, but don’t overdo it or you’ll ruin the system. The benefit of batching is that it removes the “whenever I feel like it” approach to work and keeps you more disciplined and productive.
No more multitasking
One of the most common beliefs in the business world is that multitasking means high productivity. On the contrary, many studies show that doing many things at once only leaves you with a job done poorly in all areas. It might feel more satisfying to be able to multitask, but it ends with a very low productivity score. Instead, it’s better you embrace single-tasking and plan your working schedule the night before, rely on your to-do list so you don’t get overwhelmed, and make sure you remove all distractions.
Pay to save time
As mentioned before, time is money and as a respectable freelancer, your goals is making as much as you can, but it also pays to spend some to earn some. Every freelancing profession, from web designers, copywriters, programmers and web developers, has useful and practical programs that are time-saving, but it’s also well worthy to invest in a variety of paid apps that can help equally well with managing your emails, legal documents, accounting or invoicing.
Another worthy investment that will get your productivity to rise is joining a co-working space. If you’re a hard-working copywriter in Sydney, or any other major city in Australia, you’ll have no trouble finding an adequate co-working place for you since they have become very popular and sought after. These membership-based workspaces have the advantage of bringing together diverse groups of remote workers, freelancers and independent professionals in one communal setting where everyone can feel the connection and have a sense of belonging, but also experience a great deal of control over the job itself and socializing.
Learn energy management
Besides multitasking, another common misconception about efficiency and productivity is the belief that putting in more hours equals being more productive. It’s not about working more, but working smarter, and you’ll get there by being in the zone. Your zone is the time frame when you’re most energized, so instead of managing your productive output, focus on managing your energy.
According to some case studies, if you don’t manage your energy, you’re more likely to sabotage yourself by working non-stop and tiring yourself out throughout the day. The advice is to do quite the opposite – take many timed breaks so that in between, you can give your best knowing that your next break is just 45 minutes away.
The lesson here is that these planned breaks during your day allow you to work in efficiently organised time frames with enough breathing space to recharge yourself.
By implementing the strategies outlined here, you’ll be able to raise your productivity quickly and get more work done on a daily basis.
Emma Miller is a Sydney based writer with a degree in marketing. Interested in digital marketing, social media, start-ups and latest trends. She’s a contributor at BizzMark Blog.