Have you ever heard the phrase “time is money?” As a freelancer, this couldn't be truer! Unlike most 9-5 jobs, freelancers don't have the luxury of a guaranteed paycheck just for clocking into work. That means time wasted is less money in our pockets. But, as freelancers, a lot of our time is spent on the behind-the-scenes tasks that make our business function, like:
- Motivating yourself to actually work
- Making sure projects get completed on time + impress your clients
- Communicating with clients
- Marketing your business and finding new clients
- Administrative tasks like onboarding clients, sending invoices, and paying bills
- Engaging with your audience
With so much to manage on a day-to-day basis, it's understandable to feel overwhelmed from time to time. The best way to keep that from happing is to be strategic about how we spend our time and making sure we're as organized and productive as possible.
Easier said than done? Not necessarily!
Check out the five tips below to find out how to free up more time as a freelancer.
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Plan your day
Full disclosure, I'm the type of person that loves to make lists. In addition to my daily to-do-list in my planner, I have a notebook I use to plan my entire week. From projects I need to complete to errands I need to run, it's all laid out. This helps me stay productive throughout the day because I know exactly what I need to accomplish.
Starting your day without a plan can make it easier to sidestep tasks you don’t like and procrastinate on things you don’t need to do. Before you know it, you're pressed for time—or worse, missing deadlines. The best wait to prevent this is to plan out your day. Whether that's dedicating 10 minutes at the end of the workday or each morning to planning the hours ahead, don't skip this step.
Be specific and give each item its own time slot to be completed. Make sure to leave a little wiggle room between tasks, too. That way if you get caught up on a client call or run over your time limit, it doesn't put your whole schedule out of whack.
Outsource Time-Consuming Tasks
When running a business, every second counts. Outsourcing time-consuming tasks is a great way to free up more time as a freelancer. This is especially true if those tasks are taking too much time away from the money-making aspects of your business. Hire a fellow freelancer to design your website or a virtual assistant to tackle your social media and administrative tasks.
If your freelance business gets a lot of calls, you could even invest in an answering service to act as your own personal receptionist. While it's always a good idea to shop around, answering service pricing is actually fairly reasonable. Plus, the time you save answering endless phone calls can be put to use elsewhere in your business.
The thought of paying someone else to do the things you could do may have you feeling a bit anxious. I get it! Hiring someone requires a financial investment and that can be scary. That being said, it will also free up more of your time as a freelancer, so you can take on more clients and bring in more money. Essentially, it's an investment that pays for itself over time.
Start Your Day Earlier
Okay, I know what you're thinking. The beauty of freelancing is that you don't have to start your day at the crack of dawn. You're absolutely right but starting your day earlier has some pretty great benefits.
- Since most businesses don't officially start until 8 or 9, you have several hours of peace and quiet before your inbox starts pinging like crazy.
- It will free up more of your time as a freelancer to tackle the tasks you've been putting off.
- You can spend that time establishing a morning routine that makes you feel more productive during the day.
- You'll have more time to get stuff done and you may even free up valuable time later in the day.
Who knows, you may even find that you've actually been a morning person this whole time!
Plan Your Meals
While your workload may fluctuate from time to time, you’ll undoubtedly have some busy periods. When that happens, the last thing you want to do is waste time running to grab food or making meals. The solution? Meal prepping! Having meals ready to go is such a time saver.
I personally find it so hard to get back on track after I stop what I'm doing to eat lunch. I try to meal prep as much as possible, or at the very least have foods on hand that aren't a burden to eat at my desk like a protein bar.
Meal prepping makes it so much easier to eat healthy meals too because you know exactly what you're eating. Plus, any time spent not cooking and cleaning up is a win in my book!
If you tend to work well into the evening, another option is a meal delivery service like HelloFresh. Signing up for HelloFresh takes planning dinners and grocery shopping off your plate. All you have to do is pick your meals from the week’s menu and HelloFresh will deliver all the ingredients right to your door. The meals come with a cute recipe card and typically take 25-40 minutes to prep and cook. Sound like a lifesaver? Use this link to get $40 off your first box of meals!
Automation is a key way to free up time as a freelancer. Having automated systems in place keeps those time-consuming tasks you don't want to outsource from clogging up your to-do list thanks to a set it and forget it approach. Automate sales sequences and social media content, schedule blog posts to publish in advance, and email newsletters to send on a specific day. Another option is to invest extra time upfront to create templates that you can pull up when you need them.
Find What Works for You
Figuring out how to free up more time as a freelancer, may take some trial and error. What works for someone else may not work for you or your business. When you put a new strategy in place, don't be afraid to test it out for a while before committing long term. Once you find out what works best to free up your time, there's no doubt you'll be much happier overall!
Katie Jenison is a freelance writer offering copywriting, blogging, and ghostwriting services. She works closely with home builders, remodelers, interior designers, real estate and property management professionals to help them create content marketing strategies, improve their digital presence, generate leads, and engage with their target audience. Katie also helps freelance writers and creative entrepreneurs pursue their dreams of working from home by providing tips and advice, business strategies, and writing tips on her blog, The Quiet Type. Download her free workbook, A Freelancer’s Guide to Setting Rates, here.