As a freelancer, I always try to manage my time better; the distractions when working at home can be many, there is housework, pets, gardens, outdoor recreation, not to mention social media. Freelancers have great liberties when it comes to scheduling their time, as long as the job gets done, right?
My normal schedule looks like this:
- 6:30 Wake up, prepare kids lunches and breakfasts, eat breakfast and hustle them off to school.
- 7:30 Check email and social media
- 8:00 Work
- 10:00 Exercise (run, yoga etc.)
- 11:30 Lunch
- 12:00-3:30 Working hard
- 3:30 Kids get home from school, eat a snack and help with homework
- 4:30-5:30 Work
- 5:30-7:30 Dinner and family activities
- 8:30 Finish up work, social media
This is a good day, but I also have to throw in mommy taxi, doctor’s appointments, haircuts, grocery shopping, etc and I often end up working late in the evenings to “catch up”. Needless to say I have been studying all the time management tips I can find.
Here are some time management and organizational tips that I want to share:
· Set fixed working hours and stick to them. Do not allow housework, errands etc. into this time.
· Limit time you spend checking email, Facebook, LinkedIn etc., but if you hit a slump in work motivation, get out of your chair and have a snack, do some laundry or socialize for a short time.
· Get an office at home and close the door when you are working. This limits distractions.
· Tell your family and friends about your work hours and ask that they respect them.
· Learn to say no. Don’t take on too much
· Think like a business. Just because you are working from home does not mean you can take on all sorts of volunteer work or help out at school, church etc. all the time. One of the perks with working from home is that you can do this if you want to and have time to, but set limits.
· Organize!!! Create a filing system, both for electronic files, paper, email etc and always use it. Read and file right away. Create a project management system. This can be an electronic calendar, a “traditional” paper calendar, project management software etc. Find something that works for you.
· Create To do-lists and follow them. Prioritize, check off and add new tasks every day.
· Use “The 50 minute focus technique”. Focus intently on a project for 50 minutes without interruption and then unplug and take a 20 minute break.
· Consider hiring virtual assistants to handle administrative tasks and other chores so you can focus more on project work
· Outsource stuff that you are not good at or do not like doing. I for example have outsourced house cleaning and accounting.
· Schedule time to relax. Just as it is important to schedule your work time, it is also important to schedule time to do things that relaxes you and reenergizes you.
These are some of the tips I have learned or collected over the years. Do you have any other tips that I have forgotten? Please share!
This all looks good on paper, but can be hard to implement in reality sometimes. Recently I got introduced to the website/software “rescue time”. (www.rescuetime.com). Here you can download an application that tracks your time, and if you choose to use the paid version you can also program it to block out certain media during certain hours. I have now used it for a week and it is an eye opener. I easily get sucked in to social media for example, and this one tells you how much. Here are the results from my week:
This dashboard shows me my productivity, efficiency and what kind of work and distractions I have been spending time on. Notice the tall pillar on the left? That is Facebook activity during the week. Hmmm…… At least the productive pillar on the right is equally as high, but…
I find this tool very useful for documenting my time and hopefully it will also lead to better time management. Comments? Questions?