Freelance management systems are like the extra pair of hands that every entrepreneur needs.
When you’re trying to maximize your time to accomplish everything on your to-do list, freelance management systems can help you stay self-disciplined and organized. Time management apps and accounting software are just the beginning – keep reading for our advice on how to hone your focus.
Simple Tips and Tricks to Maximize Your Time as a Content Developer
Being your own boss has a whole host of perks that entice many motivated individuals to dive into life as a small business owner. The ability to select your clientele, manage your workload, and adjust your schedule to accommodate life and personal interests are huge benefits in the entrepreneurial world.
If you are able to stay focused, delivering consistently on the self-discipline required to achieve long-term success as a business owner. Then and only then you have a long career as a content developer ahead of you.
Get On a Schedule
The freedom of freelancing can be overwhelming.
Yes, that’s right. Overwhelming!
Making the transition away from a traditional 9 to 5 corporate career into the flexibility of setting your own schedule can quickly get away from you. There are a million distractions vying for your attention, ranging from the laundry and long lunches with friends all the way to that amazing new TV series that you are way behind on. If you’re not careful, the “I’ll get that done later” free time trap will swiftly ensnare you, pushing you up against tough deadlines that breed anxiety and chip away at the quality of your work.
Separate work and playtime by establishing regular business hours.
Not only does this approach help you settle into a professional routine in your new work–at–home life, but it also sets expectations for your clients to know when and how to contact you. You are a small business owner; you are an entrepreneur, and you are a freelance writer. This is your job!
Being the boss is fun … until you have to set the ground rules for an employee.
That’s you. The flip side of this coin is the temptation to overwork.
Entrepreneurs often exchange the life of a 9 to 5 job with benefits for a life of a 24/7 job without benefits.
You must allow yourself the freedom to “clock out.” When your office is just a few steps away from your personal life, it’s easy for your business agenda to intermingle with your free time. Without a set schedule, you can be overcome with guilt and pressure to be always available and constantly at work.
Setting business hours also inherently sets those hours outside of operating. That time is just as important. You need to protect your personal life and the time needed to recharge and refresh so that you can be your very best both personally and professionally.
Get Rid of Distractions
We’ve already touched on it … distractions are everywhere!
Social media is the biggest time drain that we all fall victim to on a daily basis. A quick perusal of Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest can quickly turn into hours of time gone, wasted away staring aimlessly at a scrolling screen.
The next step to setting business hours is setting rules to avoid all social media when you’re actively engaged on work-related tasks.
- Turn off all notifications.
- Set a timer for “social media breaks.”
- Use an app to block social media during work hours.
Another distraction often makes its way into daily life as an entrepreneur.
Suddenly … all of your friends and family know that you’re home during the day. They want to get social!
This factor is another bonus to setting business hours. You can communicate your hours of operation to your family and friends, alerting them to the times when you are not to be interrupted and setting expectations for when you can and, more importantly, cannot hang out.
Avoid answering personal emails or phone calls, unless it’s an emergency, just like you did when you worked in the corporate world. It’s easy to get stuck on the phone or absorbed into an emotionally charged personal situation when you need to be chipping away at that project due by the end of the week.
Similarly, avoid answering client phone calls and emails outside of business hours.
When you properly communicate your hours of operation to your client base, you establish a mutual respect that you will not infringe on each other’s personal time. If you do not clearly set those expectations, you’ll soon find yourself chained to your computer, taking work calls at all hours of the day and night.
Trust us, the work will still be there in the morning.
Get Organized with Freelance Management Systems
Focus and productivity are delicately woven into how you organize your work as a freelancer.
If you do not take the time to implement the proper systems that allow your business to run efficiently and effectively, you set traps that will eat up time later on. What looks like a few minutes here and there can quickly add up to great loss that can affect your overall profitability.
Are the following parts of your business properly organized?
- Open projects. Do you have a clear picture of all open work, along with deadlines, expectations, and other important client information? Do you have a CRM system in place that catalogs your clients, their contact information, invoice history, and other details?
- Accounting. How do you track cash coming in and coming out? Do you categorize your expenses? Are you planning to hand your accountant a box of receipts when tax season rolls around or do you have a detailed grasp on your monthly balance sheets?
- Calendar. Do you have freelance management systems in place for scheduling client calls or setting in-person meetings? Do you set writing and design hours where you focus on a specific project without distraction? Your calendar and other useful freelance management systems can serve as a huge resource for allotting certain days for meetings and other days for in-depth, focused work.
Get Out and About
Most people are more successful in their work when they make it a habit to take small, frequent breaks throughout the day.
Give yourself 10 minutes or so every hour to get up and stretch, grab a quick cup of coffee, or get a bit of sunshine by taking a walk around the yard. It may seem counterintuitive to not be working every minute of every business hour, but truth be told, motivation stays fresh and the quality of your work is enhanced by breaking up the day regularly to clear your head and get your blood pumping.
Avoiding burnout is imperative as a small business owner, especially in a creative field such as writing or design. Exhaustion stifles new ideas and the natural flow of creative thought.
Your talent is your money maker. You must be mindful about keeping it in good health.
There’s an App for That!
Technology gives us a variety of ways to implement tools and resources that maximize our time and creativity. As a freelance content developer and as an entrepreneur, using freelance management systems is smart business! We already suggested using an app above (we linked to a great one called Concentrate). Take a powerful read of a listing of additional apps designed to help you stay focused and eliminate those distractions that will chip away at your productivity.
How do you stay focused as a freelancer? Please share any suggestions, your favorite app, or guidelines in the comments below. Don’t forget to consult Spera and our resources for even more project management tools to keep your work on track and organized.