Being your own boss is an exciting and liberating option for employment. One of the biggest responsibilities and also a common pitfall in self-employment is managing your own time. This is no small task and needs to be taken seriously to keep you successful and productive. Maintaining the balance between your work and personal time is a special challenge.
Below, we offer several strategies to manage your time more efficiently when you are self-employed.
Think of your time management strategy like a work contract with yourself. Before you start a project, write down all the details of the work required. Estimate your work time for each stage and map it out using project planner software or a weekly planner. Break large projects down into small units of work to make time estimation easier and more accurate. Ensure that the deadlines you contract are reasonable.
Be vigilant about scheduling vacation and personal time as well as work time. When you are self-employed, it is easy to let your professional duties encroach on your personal time. Scheduling personal events ensures that family and friends are not displaced by your career. It also ensures that you have the necessary breaks to fend off burnout.
Schedule a planning and review session once a week. Use this session to review your past week’s performance and update the coming week’s schedule. Adjust project timelines where needed. Gather all the papers, bills, invoices and other materials you will need for the coming week and keep them in a dedicated location.
Keep an accurate account of the actual time you spend working on each project. This can be accomplished using a simple kitchen timer or a stopwatch and a spreadsheet to make notes but it’s easier and more effective to use time tracking software. Upon completing a work period, note the time spent and add a short summary of the work accomplished. This is important for two reasons. It will assist in estimating the time you will need for similar work in the future, and it is invaluable when billing clients, in particular if you are employed based on an hourly rate.
Consider which tasks can be performed in advance or remotely. For example, most banking can be conducted and bills paid online, saving considerable time. Needed supplies can be purchased in advance and in bulk, saving the extra time and expense of last-minute purchases prior to a deadline.
Being self-employed often means that you can take advantage of non-traditional hours to complete your tasks. For example, if you are a night-owl, you can choose to schedule your project work for late-night hours and use the daytime hours for personal time or to complete tasks that are dependent on traditional business hours. Early-birds might complete their projects before most traditionally-employed people have had their first cup of coffee, leaving more conventional business hours free for errands. If your business involves travel, off-season and nighttime travel is not only quicker and less congested but less expensive as well.
Being self-employed can be fun, profitable and easy when you advantage of these tips to improve your time management skills and maintain the balance between personal and professional aspects of your life.