How to Be a Productive Freelancer: Defining Your Prime Time
Good time management is essential to your success as a virtual business owner.
Earlier in my career, I didn’t know how to manage my time when I first started working from home as a freelancer. I’ve oscillated between both ends of the spectrum as far as time management is concerned.
I’ve been the freelancer who was constantly distracted by time sucks in the home. You know, TV, social media, household chores. However, I’ve also been the (overly) productive freelancer who worked from home all day and into the night, barely taking a break to use the bathroom - or eat.
Without good time management skills, you won’t be able to use your time efficiently to be profitable in your work from home business.
Therefore, you’ll either work too much with no time for R&R, or you’ll watch time waste away if you lack discipline. Being a productive freelancer is about finding a balance between the two and maximizing your efficiency.
VBOs need to define a prime time for working to be the most productive. In other words, your prime time is the time you dedicate to generating revenue for your work from home business.
Establishing your prime time will help you improve your Real-Rate (RR) efficiency and become a much more productive freelancer.
Your Real-Rate is a metric VBOs can use to determine how much they actually make per every hour of work. You take your monthly revenue, subtract your costs, and divide the total by the number of hours you worked that month. In doing this, you may find that your Real-Rate is lower than you thought it was.
But if you define your prime time, you’re can drive your RR up by focusing your time on the things that drive your business forward.
Here are some ways to ensure that you get the most out of the time you set aside for your business:
1. Commit to a schedule.
The first step to defining your prime time is doing just that: identifying the hours that want to work from home (or wherever).
The part of the beauty of freelancing is that you don’t have to commit to the traditional 9 to 5. For instance, if you’re an early morning person or a night owl, you can set your working hours to accommodate you. Every freelancer will have times where they are more productive than others.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to be accessible to your clients during your working hours, so working strictly overnight may not be the best option.
In that case, you may want to break up your time.
Establish a few working hours during the day to discuss projects and feedback with clients. Do the things that don’t require outside intervention during your night hours.
Whatever you choose to do, be consistent - having set working hours will allow you to get into a routine. You’ll be able to focus when you need to, and you’ll have an easier transition into your R&R time once your working day, or night, is over.
2. List your tasks.
When you sit down to start working from home, you’ve probably got dozens of tasks on your mind that you know you have to complete.
You need to call this client, write that blog post, send out 15 emails, etc., etc. You may jump from task to task with no solidified plan of attack, and by then end of your work day you’ve started several things and completed very few. This doesn't sound like the habits of a very productive freelancer.
Multitasking isn’t an effective way to work. You need to organize and rank your tasks to have clarity. Start your day by making a list of all the things you need to get done that day.
You can write your list down on a piece of paper or a whiteboard. Similarly, you may also type it on a computer in Word or Google Docs. Or you could look into using one of our favorite VBO tools, Evernote – whatever works best for you.
Once you’ve brain dumped everything you need to do, it’s time to prioritize your tasks as you build your business from the comfort of home.
Go through your list and identify the most important tasks that you need to complete. Then you can focus on the things that generate the most revenue and keep deadlines in mind.
Assign a number to each action item, with ‘1’ being the most important, and so on, until everything on your list has been put in order.
This way, you’ve defined your prime time and you know exactly what to do, and the order in which to do it, each day. You’ll have better focus, and you’ll make the most of your time - hence becoming a productive freelancer.
However, keep in mind that not every task is worth your time. If you’re allocating too much of your day to non or low-revenue generating tasks, it may be a good idea to bring in some outside help. You can outsource some tasks to a virtual assistant so that you can focus your time on the things that make you money. Sometimes being a productive freelancer means delegating certain tasks to people who do them better or more efficiently than you can.
3. Treat yourself like a boss.
The last part of defining your prime time is about developing discipline. You are the boss. You have clients.
And while your clients have certain expectations, you don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder to make sure that you’re getting your work done, particularly if you're working from home.
You have to hold yourself accountable. You are your own boss, so think of yourself that way. Place a high-value on your time and use it wisely.
Defining and protecting your prime time is critical to your success as a productive freelancer.
Scheduling your time and listing your tasks will help you work from home in an organized and efficient way. Treating yourself like a boss will give you the discipline and the motivation you need to run a successful work from home business.
Managing your time effectively will allot you more time for R&R while increasing your Real Rate efficiency.