Five Time Management Basics

20110508-223655.jpgI’ve been freelancing full-time for almost a year. Prior to that, I was working in an office job and fitting freelancing in around that work. By necessity, my time was tightly managed. However, when I went 100% freelance, my diary was far more flexible. That meant I had to develop a new level of discipline with time management.
Here are the five things I do to manage my time.
1. Workflow management
I’ve been using a self-developed workflow system using a program called Bento on my Mac. The neat thing is the system can be synchronized to my iPad and iPhone easily so I can record ideas, pitches, commissioned work, work in progress and submitted work.
Without this system, I’d lose track of my work as in a typical week I’d have several deadlines on the go at any one time.
2. My whiteboard
I have a small whiteboard (900 x 450mm) on my wall that lists the week’s deadlines, to do items (such as bills and invoices) and other stuff I need to keep track of. It’s a low-tech solution but it works to keep my focussed each day.
3. Set daily goals
Each work day I set targets. The nature of the targets varies depending on where I am in my work cycle. Sometimes it’s to conduct a certain number of interviews or write a number of words or submit a number of stories.
Daily goals are important. By setting small, achievable targets that are linked to deadlines and budgets it makes the somewhat daunting tasks of hitting monthly or annual earning goals mo achievable.
4. Mix it up
I know my personality pretty well and know that I need to vary my work otherwise I lose focus. So, I try not to fill consecutive days with the same work. If I have a full day of writing, I make sure my next day involves something different.
If it’s not practical because of pending deadlines then I try to introduce some diversity by planning work for different clients. If I have a day of writing about consumer tech, I make the next day about enterprise or management. That gets my brain working in different ways.
5. Schedule some fun
In order to get the most out of my work time I always slow for some social time during the work day. If I was in a 9 to 5 office I’d occasionally grab a coffee with a friend or chat in the lunch room. There’s no reason that has to stop just because I’m self-employed.
Each week, I plan to catch up with a couple of friends on the phone and go out for lunch with my wife. While those activities can cut into work time, they actually help me be more productive by keeping my brain fresh.
So, what do you do to get the most from your time?

Comments (1)

  1. Hey Anthony
    All really good points about managing time effectively.
    Variety is so key and scheduling in regular times for lunch or coffee with friends or business contacts is important.
    I’d also suggest knowing which times of the week/day are best to get certain jobs done. So for example by Friday afternoon, I’m pretty tired, so this is the time I might do some admin or catch up with a friend or journalist for coffee or a beer. It’s also something to look forward to at the end of the week.
    The other way I get the most from my time is to only check my emails/twitter account etc two or three times a day. Constantly checking messages can be a real time waster.

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