Time Management Tips for Full-Time Freelancers

It has now been more than eight years since I got laid off from my job and decided to give full-time freelancing a shot. I learned a lot of valuable lessons during my first couple of years of self-employment, but none was more valuable than learning how to manage my time.

Having total freedom and flexibility with your time is one of the biggest benefits of being self-employed. But it can also be one of the biggest curses if you don’t learn how to manage all this “free” time well.

An Ingrained Work Schedule

Before going full-time freelance, I worked for several different publishing companies over my 24-year professional career. All of these jobs were basically 8:30-to-5-ish jobs so this kind of a daily work schedule was pretty much ingrained into me.

So on my first day of self-employment, I got up, took a shower, got dressed and started my workday at about 8:30. I plowed ahead all day, taking a short break for lunch and wrapping up around 5 o’clock.

And that’s what I’ve done pretty much every workday since. Sure, there are times when I have to finish up work in the evenings or get some work done over the weekend. But for the most part, I stick with this 8:30-to-5ish workday schedule — because this is what works for me.

But I talk to other freelancers and self-employeds who are the exact opposite. Some like to sleep late and work well into the night. Others are early risers and like to finish their workday by lunchtime. And some take a more relaxed approach to their work schedule, just working when they feel “inspired” or whatever.

To each his own, but here’s my advice: Figure out what kind of work schedule works best for you and then stick to it — every day that you work. This is the first step to making sure you’re managing your time well and being as productive as possible in your freelance business.

Avoiding Distractions

Let’s be honest: If you’re self-employed and work from home, there are a million distractions that can keep you from working. This leads to the next step in managing your time well: Staying focused on the tasks at hand.

I highly recommend having a designated area in your home that’s devoted to your freelance work. Some freelancers I know work at the dining room table, or sitting on the deck, or at their favorite coffee shop. But this just opens the door to the multitude of distractions that can cause you to lose focus on your work.

I’ve been fortunate to have a spare bedroom I use as my home office. When I’m in there during the workday, I’m working … period. My family knows this and they keep interruptions to a minimum. If you don’t have a spare bedroom, try to set aside a corner of a room or even a hallway that you can set up as your home office space. All you really need is space for a chair and a table to set your laptop on so this shouldn’t be too difficult.

Next month I’ll share a few more lessons I’ve learned when it comes to managing my time well as a freelancer.

Authored by Don Sadler
Don Sadler hung out his shingle as a full-time freelance writer in 2009 after working for several custom publishing companies over the previous 24 years. Visit
www.donsadlerwriter.com or contact him at don@donsadlerwriter.com.