Managing your time as a professional properly is never easy. There are always temptations to distract your focus from the work you should be doing. Whether it’s the monthly birthday party in the break room, too many trips to the water cooler, or just a talkative coworker, making sure you manage your work time properly is an important skill.
The difference between working and goofing off is easy to distinguish regardless of whether your work in an office or if you work from home. Furthermore, when you have a “regular job” or otherwise work for someone else who manages your time and tasks, it is relatively easy to identify when you are “working on the right things” and when you are not using your time correctly. As a freelancer, however, that line can be a lot harder to spot.
Professional freelance writers, like all freelancers, work for themselves. That is, a freelancer writer is their own boss. In fact, as entrepreneurs running small businesses, freelancers are not only their own boss, but their own assistant, own marketing manager, own supply clerk, own receptionist, and own everything else. Freelancing is typically a one man (or one woman) affair, and as such, successful business ownership requires that the writer wear all of the hats in the office. These multiple roles are what can blur the line between correctly using your time and wasting time.
Self Organization and Time Management for Freelancers
Consider the freelance writer with an important project coming due at the end of the week. The project is for a major client and represents both a significant investment of time and effort, as well as a significant payday. Obviously, working on the project is a wise use of resources and good self imposed time management. However, it is not that black and white.
For example, there are still phone calls to return, emails to answer, research to be done, and if the freelancer has a full pipeline of freelance writing work, then there might be more than one assignment due on or before the end of the week as well. Couple that with the never ending, necessary tasks like marketing, invoicing, and bookkeeping and there is a lot of gray area for the procrastinating freelance writer to make use of.
Obviously, playing popular Facebook games is not working, but maintaining the Facebook business page IS working. The catch is, is it working on the right thing? Is it wisely using one’s time to maximum business potential and benefit?
Even more difficult to cut through is the fact that many entrepreneurs and small business owners love what they do. That is why they became independent business owners in the first place. You can’t really make money writing from home without putting in some pretty solid effort on things like webpage design, social networking, email, and the like. Are you working or is it leisure time when you are hunting down the best WordPress themes for writers? A lot of that depends on how you are doing it, and with what level of focus and energy.
As freelance writers and work from home professionals, it is important to always focus on what is important NOW, and to make every effort to avoid scope-creep. That three minute visit to LinkedIn to check if one of your contacts has come through on networking you with a writing gigs, can easily turn into forty minutes of checking in with groups, sending messages to old friends, or updating your freelance writer LinkedIn profile — all in the name of “working” on the business.
Every professional will need to develop their own solutions to this time consuming problem. However, the most important step is simply being aware of it. Once you look closer, you’ll find it easier to distinguish “I’m working” from “I’m working on something that I should be doing later, and not working on what I should be working on right now.”
Entrepreneurs Time Management Tips and Organization Strategies
What about you?
What strategies or tips do you use to help manage your professional day and ensure that you are working on the right things? Leave your answers in the comments or contact me. We would love to hear them.