One of the most difficult transitions between a salaried job and freelance work can be learning how to manage your time. There is no employer telling you when and where you have to be, and no one looking over your shoulder if you take a long lunch. As most freelancers will confess, there can be exhilaration initially with that freedom, sort of like playing hooky from school. However, as with everything else in life, moderation is key. Some simple guidelines to time management will help keep you on track.
- Keep regular hours. You may have changed bosses, but you still have a responsibility to your “boss” to maintain a reasonably predictable schedule. This ensures that you put in enough hours to perform your contract work and manage the business side of your operation, and also lets you know when you are off work and can relax. This is especially important when you have a home office.
- Schedule time for non-billable tasks, such as billing, marketing, etc. It is too easy to get engrossed in the current project you are working on and forget the ongoing business aspect of being a freelancer. Set specific times in your week for reviewing and handling your finances, and for regular direct and network marketing.
- Keep a timesheet. Staying busy is not the same as making money. Keeping track of your time, even if you aren’t billing clients on an hourly basis, allows you to monitor how effectively you are spending your time. Record time spent on necessary, but non-billable work also so you can factor that into your pricing.
- Schedule down time. As an employee, you got certain allocations for sick days, vacation, and holidays. As a freelancer, you should have the same benefits, but you have to give them to yourself. Set aside a certain amount of income each month to cover for times when you are not working.