Time Management for Freelancers

Time Management for Freelancers

The Top 10 Time Management Tips and Hacks for Freelancers to Increase Productivity

Before we dive into my secrets to time management as a digital nomad, full-time freelancer, and small business owner, I’m going to tell you a little bit about myself and why I’m qualified to share my time management mastery plan with you.  

Like any digital nomad, I’m a millennial. I grew up in Upstate New York and moved to New York City in my early 20s to “find myself.” Along the way, I discovered I was meant to be an entrepreneur, as this kind of work satisfied my soul in a way no other previous job had. After quitting a public relations job at just 22, with no plan or budget for how I was going to survive New York City, I went to my tiny apartment in Bushwick that night and knew I had to do something.

All along, I had been earning petty cash on Fiverr.com – an Israeli freelancing marketplace whereby anyone can sell digital marketing services. Editing a few documents here and there, I was able to buy some new shirts and pants every month with the side income – seemed good to me!

As I sat there that night, with no plan of action, no money, no job, and just a MacBook in my hands, I began to open up more writing services with their platform. In just a few weeks, I was making (just barely) enough to cover my rent and sustain my living in the Big Apple ($2,000 or so).

A few years later, Fiverr.com tapped me to be part of their Fiverr PRO rollout. This new program designates the top 1% of sellers with the platform, enabling us to charge more for our services than the average user. My life changed overnight. I went from charging $15 for a press release to $100. Needless to say, it has been a wild ride.

Following the PRO rollout in April 2017, come June 2018, I had received international attention for the money I was making, right from my apartment:
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/28/how-to-make-six-figures-on-fiverr.html. CNBC reported on my ability to make $150,000 in just 6 months as a freelancer on Fiverr.com.

There was no hiding my digital nomad lifestyle any longer. Thousands of people from around the world were emailing me, messaging me on Instagram, and friend requesting to add me on Facebook, asking how they, too, could earn that much money from home.

As I’m sure you know, time management is not an easy skill. It’s truly all that stands between you and making $300,000 per year. If everyone could manage time with effortlessness, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. I have been fortunate enough to work with a discipline that has afforded me a time management schedule so seamless, and it carries me through every single day.

I wholeheartedly believe big-scale success is impossible without it. Time is a finite resource afforded to us in this life, and we have to use it wisely if we want to hit it big. I have obsessively refined and altered my time management schedule upon foraying into freelancing a little over 4 years ago. 

So, what’s the secret sauce?

If I could tell you in just one sentence how you can master the management of time, I would. However, nothing worth having ever comes easy. It took a grueling 4 years of working for little to no money: 12 hours per day and 7 days per week for me to arrive at my secret recipe for mastering one of the most elusive powers in our world: time.

In this time management guide, I’m going to share with you my top 10 tips for enhancing your productivity through the mastery of time, as well as how you can make this kind of discipline habitual in your daily routine.

This is an ultimate productivity blog on work-at-home jobs that you are inevitably going to refer back to if you are considering a life as a freelancer, entrepreneur, or independent contractor. Since 50% of the U.S. workforce will be part of this new gig economy by 2020, you might as well join the ranks!

And if you’re already in the gig economy, then you’re making an excellent choice to further your productivity today.

Let’s get started.

man writing to a calender

#1: Keep a Schedule

I definitely find that people are expecting “sexier” answers when they approach me regarding time management. Look, I wish it were sexier, too! Generally, this behind-the-scenes groundwork is simply hard-work mixed with a serious discipline that you have to commit to, considering you will have no boss yelling at you to stay in line.

We’ll get started with the most basic element of time management: keeping a schedule.

It is virtually impossible to master the art of time without a schedule that breaks down every last minute, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Every billionaire in the world keeps a schedule that has been marked down to the 15-minute interval – some – even 5-minute intervals, so they can use their time wisely. A phone call can be completed in just 5 minutes, lunch can be eaten in 10 minutes, etc.

Trust me, if you want to see a schedule maximized, check this out:
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4266892/The-daily-routine-billionaires-follow.html.

Now, you don’t need to plan your schedule quite as aggressively, but you get the idea. Scheduling helps you manipulate time instead of the other way around. It’s how you can make time for those calls, extra orders, meetings, and so forth that other people will decline because they “don’t have enough time.” Don’t let that be you. There is always time, and if you start saying there isn’t enough time to clients, partners, platforms, etc., then where will you draw the line?

I never tell someone I am “too busy” to take their call and hear about their business proposition. We will get to the importance of saying no later in this blog, but regarding the overall management of time, you have the same 24 hours in your day that Bill Gates has in his. Once you realize that time is a great equalizing force, you will realize this free commodity can be maneuvered with incredible ease.

The Power of Planning for Productivity

A lot of people make fun of me because I am a planner. They say it takes the spontaneity out of things and can kill the mood. I can’t tell you how many people tell me they want to “play it by ear.” They simply don’t want to commit, or they want to keep their options open.

Well, I say to that: why does there have to be options? Why can’t I have AND do it all? From my experience thus far, it’s entirely possible to make it to every party, meeting, and briefing. It all starts with planning.

When you take the time to write down all of your engagements in one online calendar or planning tool, you will begin to see how much more you can fit into your week. Previously, having two engagements in one day seemed like a lot, right? Well, considering that it only consumes two of the working 12 hours you have at your disposal, you’ll realize you can also fit lunch and three calls into that same day.

My Daily Schedule

So what does a day in the life look like for this digital nomad? I’ll let you in on my general structure:

  • 7:00 AM: I wake up and check my phone for emails, Instagram messages, collab opportunities, and general news. I like to keep up with current events – I can’t help it!
  • 7:30 AM: I sit down at my work station and open up my laptop. I will devote the next hour to customer service. I answer every person on Fiverr and respond to all client questions before I start working.
  • 8:30 AM: I’ll make some tea (I don’t drink coffee), and I’ll buckle down, getting ready to complete my work orders on Fiverr. For the next 3 hours or so, I’ll produce my best content of the day. I am definitely a morning person.
  • 11:30 AM: I work with my physical trainer for an hour and a half. I have wrecked my back from sitting poorly with my laptop (do not do this!!!), so now I am cautious about my posture and work station. I also believe exercise is a hugely important part of time management – but I will get to that.
  • 1:00 PM: I take part in my second round of customer service for all inquiries.
  • 1:30 PM: I eat lunch. I usually make a home-made lunch that’s full of vitamins and nutrients. Your brain is churning away!
  • 1:40 PM: I get back to work on Fiverr. I am usually able to wrap up everything by 4:00 PM or so.
  • 4:00 PM: I work on my other business, Campfire Trailers. I will edit photos, devise marketing strategies, work on Instagram, make videos, and write blogs for the next hour.
  • 5:00 PM: I will usually work on one of the many blogs (like this one) that I plan to share with the digital nomad generation.
  • 7:00 PM: I will either unplug at this point to go social or take a break for dinner if it’s one of my intense work days.
  • 7:30 – 8:30 PM: This is my exploration time, where I look at other gig ideas on Fiverr, blogs I could write, hotels I want to take photos for, and the list goes on. I am not an evening thinker, so my brain starts to slide at this point.
  • 8:30 PM: I will read one of my many business or Christian faith blogs. I discover they make me the happiest.
  • 9:30 PM: I finally unplug for the day. I really try to close my laptop and either read or watch a TV show. I think it’s important to unplug at least 1.5 hours before bed.
  • 11:00 PM: I generally try to sleep around 11:00 PM. I only sleep for about 7 hours or so, but since I am a terrible sleeper, I need from 11:00 PM until 7:00 AM to get my body ready for what the next day has in store.

It only took me a few minutes to write that schedule above – that’s how innate it is to my being. Now, I can’t speak for the night owls. I’m honestly not sure how you do it! I just know from my experiences, the early bird catches the worm, and I definitely beat out other sellers on Fiverr when I answer buyers before 8:00 AM and the rest of my competition is still “coming to.” I believe you can train your body to do more than you can imagine, which is why I would recommend you make an effort to shift over to a morning schedule.

Long-Term Scheduling

That takes care of my daily schedule. For long-term planning, I use the Notepad feature on my laptop (I am not a tech wizard), and I track about 14 days in advance. I keep a calendar in my apartment for longer commitments. I try and stack at least one important thing per day, 14 days in advance. That way, I am able to keep time open and available with shorter-term things that pop up.

You might be saying: yes, but don’t you pigeonhole yourself if you commit to things 14 days out? My answer is this: unless you are Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg, you are not “too important” to do a lot of things, and that includes getting coffee with friends and potential business partners. Having that kind of attitude will separate you from the people who dodge out of things they don’t “feel like going to.”

I know for me, some of the best business connections I have ever made were from events I did not want to go to. Sometimes, I am tired, sick, or just don’t feel like socializing. Remember, when you decide to still go, you are beating out the 12 other people who chose not to go.

Scheduling Whilst Traveling

The term “digital nomad” came from the classic freelancer that wanted to change their working environment – simply because they can. Many nomads will go to Thailand in the winter, and Spain in the summer, since they can run a business right from their laptop.

When traveling gets thrown into the equation, the only way you are going to make it work is if you are steadfast in your commitment to a routine. Time zones will change, customs will change, and even your connection to the internet will change. You have to stick to the same routine, no matter where you are. That way, you will still be able to travel if you commit to the same kind of discipline.

I find that my morning-mentality is especially important while traveling. If you can get all of your work done in the morning, you can enjoy the rest of the day and unwind. Nothing is worse, to me, than trying to explore, knowing I have a 2,000-word article due by 10:00 PM that night.

Keep a Schedule

The bottom line is: keep a schedule. I advise that you create both a long-term and short-term schedule, which will play a huge role in goal-planning (we will touch this in a few chapters). If you plan to travel and maintain a business at the same time, these physical schedules are paramount.

The more time you put into scheduling, the more you are going to be able to accomplish in a day. Trust me: you can do more than you think! Stop making excuses in the morning while you “try and wake up.” Wake yourself up and start to make a habit out of getting up and getting right to work.

girl passes time by using her phone

Hack #2: Never Procrastinate

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
– Pablo Picasso

I really love that quote. I love it because I am a firm believer that there is no time for procrastination in the world of independent contracting. It’s simply common sense to me: if you put off a project today until tomorrow, and someone tomorrow asks you if you can do a project in a 6 or 8-hour window, now you cannot. You have missed out on valuable time that was wasted while you kicked the can down the road.

I do not procrastinate. Was this always the case for me? No, it was not. I had to learn the hard way.

 

Procrastination = Lost Business

When I first started freelancing on Fiverr, I didn’t know what I was doing. I thought I knew time management, but boy, was I wrong. Well, at one point, so many orders were pouring into my queue, that I couldn’t handle the rate of placement.

I had to do the WORST thing in the world: I had to turn off some of my gigs. That meant I was sending willing, paying customers away because I couldn’t manage my time correctly. After a few months of realizing how much business I was missing, I started to get a little more serious about my time management.

Now, this definitely took me a few years to master, but maybe after reading this, that doesn’t have to be true for you.

Today, I never, ever procrastinate. When someone places an order, unless there are 8 orders in my queue for the day, I get right to it. There are a few things that happen when you complete a project earlier than expected for a client:

  • It tells them you’re motivated and hard-working. If you’re like me, you’re going to be impressed if someone completes a project in 2 days as opposed to 5 days. It tells me this person is hungry, and they are determined to make a future for themselves. It makes me want to give them more projects. Plus, subconsciously, you classify them as a serious professional right off the bat, which means even if the content is terrible, they aren’t going to see it as brutally as if you had delivered lately.
  • It impresses them. As I mentioned above, if you manage to impress someone before they even look at your work, then they are not going to judge it as harshly. They are going to be more willing to work through a revision and respect your time.
  • It gives you more time to balance other clients simultaneously. Every client wants to think they are the only client you have in the entire world. Naturally, that’s not true, but you want to make them feel like they ARE your only client. The easiest way to do that is to complete their project more quickly than expected. When they think you love them, and just THEM, they are going to tip you and provide you with more work.

Pure Productivity Starts Right Now

So why do we like to procrastinate? Well, many of us don’t want to work, necessarily. However, the beauty of the gig economy is that you can choose a work-at-home job that you LOVE. You don’t have to let the job dictate what you can and can’t do.

That means you don’t have an excuse to procrastinate. If you’re doing what you love, then what’s really stopping you? You need to sit down and ask yourself a few questions:

● Do I really want to be an entrepreneur? Or did I just hate my last job?
● Do I love the freedom I get as a digital nomad?
● Would I rather have a boss create my schedule for me at work?
● Do I just plain hate to work? Why?
● Am I stalling because I don’t understand what the client is asking of me?
● Should I make my order placement process simpler?

Once you work through these questions, I guarantee you will have an answer to your procrastination woes. Now, there are certainly distractions in our lives that can contribute to this procrastination – it might not always be on purpose.

I am going to further touch on these distractions in the next chapter.

man covering his ears to the people around him

Hack #3: Avoid Distractions

Studies have shown that our attention spans are getting shorter as we use digital tools and technology more and more in our everyday lives. Just look at the classic movie trailers we are fed for new movies – it’s a montage of flashing images, loud music, and little information to stimulate our brains and provide an over-the-top visual imagery immersion that we are so used to on social media every single day.

Some scientists argue that we have attention spans shorter than that of a goldfish today:
 https://www.huffpost.com/entry/as-attention-spans-get-shorter-content-gets-shorter_b_5a57ae42e4b00a8c909f7f1e. Whatever your belief, technically, your attention span is shorter than that of a human being’s from 1,000 years ago.

However, that is not an excuse if you are unable to manage your workload and time correctly. In fact, it should tell you that you will be at a huge advantage if you are able to rise past this statistic when compared to your peers. I always try to see the positive side of things, which to me means that everyone is distracted today – if you can figure out how to NOT be distracted, then the future is yours for the taking.

I’m going to break down a few major distractions that I know can trip me up on a daily basis, as well as what I do to minimize their impact.

Social Media

On average, we spend about 2 hours per day flipping through social media feeds on our phones and on our laptops. Social media is the ultimate distractor – it’s a place where your friends, family, love interests, celebrities, and other brands are sharing fun content that you want to consume. Why would you write a press release when you can instead spend 30 minutes watching a YouTube tutorial on different outfit ideas for the spring season (guilty)?

Therefore, you need to help yourself and cut out the distractions. I have removed both Facebook and Twitter from my phone, considering I spend far less time searching the web on my computer. I actively do not open the Facebook or Twitter tab on my laptop in the morning – when it’s lingering next to my other tabs, I click on it!

I have also found that spending more time obsessing over one or two social media sites will diminish the casual surfing you do on five different sites. I devote most of my time to Instagram, where I have managed to make it a business lead generation tool, as well as to connect with many new friends.

I leave Instagram on my phone, but I keep the notifications TURNED OFF. I cannot stress how important this is! If you have no idea that someone just commented on your photo, why are you going to open the app? Exactly my point.

These steps I have taken to remove myself from social media while I’m working are definitely important. I’m not going to sit here and demonize social media – it’s a huge marketing tool for me, and I need it for my different companies. I just think you can easily minimize its constant “flashing” in your life if you take the time.

Fatigue

I am not a good sleeper. I never was, and I never will be. Even when I was just 5-years-old, I used to wake up and walk around the house to try and put myself back down. I just can’t seem to turn my brain off effectively, and although I recognize this is a shortcoming of mine, I have learned to live with the reality.

When I am fatigued the next day, I am not able to perform to my usual standards. Therefore, I do everything I can to try and position myself for restfulness. Here are just a few things I have learned that can help minimize your stimulation late at night:

Power down the blue screens. Most people know this, but the blue light that’s emitted out of phones and laptops stimulates your brain. Your brain actually sees this light and thinks it’s the day-time, or the sun rising. I make sure to get these items away from me at least one hour before bed.
● Avoid caffeine and nightshades. I am personally unable to consume caffeine – it sends my heart into an irregular rhythm. However, I recently learned that foods like shishito peppers are called “nightshades,” which is a certain kind of dark vegetable that can actually act as caffeine in your body.
● Workout during the day. Our bodies were designed to move, which is why a sedentary lifestyle won’t work down your physical body as it should. I make time for at least 1.5 hours of physical activity in my day so that I can sleep better at night.
● Avoid late night cravings. I love sweets. A lot. But eating ice cream cake at 11:00 PM is not going to help you go to sleep. I would recommend getting your dessert in at least three hours before it’s time to lay down to sleep.
● White noise machine. I am super sensitive to sound, so I need a white noise machine to sleep through the night. They are only $50 on Amazon, and honestly, they have changed my life. Plus, they drown out the noise without needing a fan, which can seriously dry me out.
● Avoid napping. My body LOVES naps. I wish I could nap every day. But, if I did that, I wouldn’t sleep at night. If you feel yourself nodding off around 3:00 PM, go for a walk, stretch, or do something to wake yourself back up. Naps are terrible for your natural sleep rhythm.

Hangovers

I am 26 years old, which means that I, too, like to hang out with my friends, go to bars and clubs, and drink more than one glass of wine from time-to-time. However, nothing is worse than waking up hungover when you have an entire schedule that YOU have to manage.

Therefore, my advice is to spread out your hangovers sparingly and prepare for them the day in advance. If you know you’re going to be operating at 50% tomorrow, put in an extra 2 hours the day before to position yourself, so it will not be stressful.

I also find adding Pedialyte to Gatorade before bed can work wonders – our bodies need electrolytes in the water we are consuming when alcohol dehydrates us beyond belief!

Of course, there are a zillion other distractions, like text messages, that can keep you away from your work. Turn your phone over, place it in another room, and turn off the ringer. Turn off all notifications on your laptop, and if you really have to, consider turning the phone to “Airplane mode” from time to time.

After a while, you will develop a habit that will carry you throughout the day, and you’ll be able to add in a little more fun again. It’s all about moderation and, of course, wise time management.

lady eating healthy living

Hack #4: Prioritize Healthy Food, Sleep, and Exercise

As I just introduced in the previous chapter, what you eat, how much you sleep, and how much you exercise, to me, has a huge role in how efficient you are with your time. When you are unable to use your time as productively as possible, someone else is. That means you need to care about the integrity of your body, what you are feeding it, and how much you are letting it rest if you want your brain to function at maximum strength.

Let’s look at each of these three critically important components separately.

Healthy Food

I don’t want to bore you with countless stats and findings from scientific studies, so let me just summarize the main point: healthy food is filled with the vitamins and minerals your brain needs to function effectively and clearly throughout the day. Not to mention, if your job involves moving and lifting equipment, like photography essentials, then your muscles need nutrients to power them through a 12-hour routine.

I can feel a notable difference in my ability to think clearly when I have healthy food versus non-healthy food. Now, I do have some food sensitivities that force me to eat healthily, but I would highly recommend you make this a priority if you’re looking to be your own boss and manage your time effectively.

Here’s an example of, to me, what is a great brain-food filled day:

● Breakfast: I always eat sugar-free cereal with low-fat milk and lots of fruit thrown on top. Studies have shown that berries, especially, are brain foods that will really get your cognitive thinking kicked into gear. I do also wait until about 9:30 AM to break my fast. Many studies have shown that fasting actually creates greater brain activity. I avoid processed sugars as much as I can.
● Lunch: Usually after the gym, I try and load up on protein. For lunch, I have three egg whites, half an avocado, and two pieces of gluten-free bread, with Greek yogurt to satisfy my sweet tooth at the end.
● Dinner: This is when I try and load up on veggies, and more clean proteins. I do allow myself to indulge on dessert when I’m done with dinner, which I think is essential for your sanity (giving yourself a break every now and then).

Of course, throughout the day, drinking as much water as possible is a great idea. I am a naturally bad water-drinker and am trying to improve that. You can set alarms in your phone or wear a FitBit that will remind you to drink water if you naturally forget.

For me, I discover eating this way tremendously boosts my brain with the memory recall and speed I need to have if I want to manage a few businesses per day.

Lots of Sleep

Ensuring you can achieve ample sleep, every workday is so important – I cannot stress it enough. When we sleep, our bodies are repairing themselves and positioning the brain for another full day of thinking. If you don’t sleep, your body can’t provide this critical function for your body.

As I mentioned in previous chapters, do your body a favor, and shut down before bed. Turn off the blue light stimulation, get a white noise machine, and stay away from foods that can kick you back into an alert state.

Although 8 hours is the recommended amount of sleep for someone in their 20s or 30s, I get about 7 hours per night and find out that it is perfectly acceptable. Try and minimize the amount of time you dip below those hours. I’m not trying to be a nag – recent studies show that the less you sleep, the less you live! Seriously.

Daily Exercise

There are close to 700 named skeletal muscles in your body. Why? Because we were meant to walk, run, move, jump, squat, and lift. We were not made to sit still, bent in half, for the entire day. I feel that exercise is a critically important part of my day for many reasons:

● Clears my head. After writing an intense 3,000-word article for someone, you simply need to go for a walk and clear your head. Nothing is more therapeutic than getting in a good sweat and thinking about nothing but your body and the music. That’s why I place exercise right in the middle of my daily schedule.
● Kick-starts my metabolism. Sitting doesn’t exactly burn calories. If you care about your weight, like most people do, then kick-starting your metabolism is a great idea.
● Makes me happier. Exercise is directly related to the release of endorphins that make you a happier person. If you are feeling stressed or tired of your workload, exercising will give you a jolt of happiness to make it through the day.
● Tires me out for better sleep. I notice that I sleep better at night when I devote one hour every day to intense exercise. I’m sure it’s directly related to our overall health systems as human beings.

Once you make time to prioritize these three things, one very important result is achieved: you become more productive! When you are more productive, you can more wisely use your time, complete tasks more quickly, and approach new projects with clarity and energy that was not there before. These three natural components are definitely a secret weapon in your mastery of time management, especially if you are going to travel a lot. Still set aside time for sleep, exercise (unless you are going to walk around and explore your new city every day), and some kind of predictability in healthy food.

Of course, there are a zillion other distractions, like text messages, that can keep you away from your work. Turn your phone over, place it in another room, and turn off the ringer. Turn off all notifications on your laptop, and if you really have to, consider turning the phone to “Airplane mode” from time to time.

After a while, you will develop a habit that will carry you throughout the day, and you’ll be able to add in a little more fun again. It’s all about moderation and, of course, wise time management.

man holding card setting goals not limits

Hack #5: Set Goals

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to goals, not people or things.”
– Albert Einstein

Einstein knew what he was talking about. You can’t rely on people always, and things come and go. What stays forever? Your goals and dreams. No one can take those from you, and no one can diminish how hard you worked to achieve those goals. That kind of contentment is one that will carry you through a fruitful and thoroughly joyful life.

Goal setting is the central premise of probably every single motivational talk, self-help guide, and time management blog. That’s because setting goals is such an integral part of reaching for your future and having the courage and inspiration to get out there and make it happen. We can easily fall into mundane routines and get complacent if we don’t have a “point” to what we are trying to do.

This kind of complacency can breed a lack of productivity, which can lead to procrastination and so forth, as you fail to reach your true potential. Without goals, you will surely never manage your time with the passion that you would if you keep working towards something that set your soul on fire.

There are two types of goals you should be setting regularly as you manage your time:

Short-Term Goals

These are the weekly goals that are short-term in nature, which means they are achievable. This can be telling yourself you’re going to get two new clients, or completing a project you have been working on for a while. These goals can be achieved in a 1 – 7-day timeframe, and should not “stress you out” beyond belief to achieve them.

It’s important to set a few short-term goals per week. This is how you’re going to push yourself on a daily basis to manage your time more wisely. Set these goals to be within reach, difficult enough that you have to make an effort, but not so difficult that you give up and throw in the towel.

I recommend making a tiny little goal section at the bottom of any agenda book or planner where you can write down these goals. And remember: they don’t all have to be work related! They can be related to your health, people in your life, giving back, and so forth. Setting goals will help you more accurately plan out a planner in advance.

Long-Term Goals

These goals are just as important – if not more important – than short-term goals. This is where it’s ok to reach for the stars and own it. Maybe you want to be the CEO of your company; perhaps you want to build the next social media app; or maybe you want to travel to every single continent on the planet. DREAM. If you don’t dream, no one else is going to dream for you.

Do you think Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet would have achieved their empires without dreaming of it first? If you can dare to dream, then you can dare to do it.

With these long-term goals out in the open, you can make a timeline that over a year period will arrive at your final goal destination. With this information, you can add in a little bit each week to your normal schedule that will help you achieve this far-off goal. Little by little, you will get there. That’s only possible if you first sit down and acknowledge these long-term goals. Don’t be scared!

Habitual Goal-Setting

Once you start to achieve some of your goals, you will build a newfound confidence in yourself. You will realize you can do anything you set your mind to, and with this kind of inspiration, you will set bigger and better goals. Over time, this goal setting will directly relate to your time management capabilities. If you want to achieve your goals, then you need to use your time wisely.

Time management and goal setting complement each other perfectly. That’s why I recommend you start goal setting today! Set down this blog and write down some short and long-term goals. Go for a walk, and when you come back, read them again and make a plan for how you are going to achieve them. It’s actually fun!

time management to a girl by studying

Hack #6: Commit to Constant Education

Every single billionaire in the world has one thing in common: they love to read. These are people that have a voracious appetite for learning, aggregating new information, and integrating their finds into their business empires. They never stop learning because if they do, the competition is going to pass them by.

How to stay afloat with what I need to know?

Blogs

There’s no easy way around this – you need to constantly read blogs, articles, etc., if you want to know what’s available to you. Now, if you have made it this far in this blog, then I don’t need to tell you anymore! You are taking an important step towards your business future.

I have learned everything I know and am imparting to you here through the articles and blogs that I have read throughout my lifetime.

Social Media Accounts

I find that social media can be a great source of information if you know where to look for it. Beware of clickbait articles and faulty news sources. Only get your information from big-name publications.

I personally enjoy British publications because they do not have as much of a political swing as American publications. I also follow a fair amount of commentators and renowned educators on social media, whereby I read their posts and keep up with their opinions.

Know when to separate fact from fiction on social media. But once you get a feel for it, you will be able to use other’s opinions with your personal readings to really arrive at important findings for your future.

Business Friends

I believe we are social creatures, which is why it’s important to hang out with people that are going to challenge to grow and expand in your business knowledge. Finding a mentor who will impart invaluable business knowledge with you is important, as are peers that provide you with new ideas and skillsets different from your own.

I have come up with some of my best ideas from going back and forth with business friends that are down to compare notes and talk about the latest articles in the news.

Stalking the Competition

There’s no shame in going directly to the source and stalking your competition. I read all blogs, articles, journals, and LinkedIn posts released by my competitors. I want to know what they are up to, and if they know about some information I don’t know about. I make it a habit to this, on Fiverr, too, where I check out other sellers and their prices. I am constantly making adjustments and following along with competitors to ensure I’m not only remaining competitive, but that I am one step ahead of the competition. 

Expedited Processes Save Time

So why does committing to education help with time management? Every single day, technology companies are creating new tools, software, and resources you can use to expedite your daily processes. Not to mention, people are sharing tips and tricks (like I am right here) with you that will help you manage your time more wisely.

With more time back at your disposal, you can more accurately manage your time and do what’s important for the future of your personal business.

The answer to every problem is out there – if only you know which page to turn

woman managing her time by resting

Hack #7: Create a Work-Life Balance

No, you are not invincible. You are not a robot. And you are not able to just work for 16 hours per day with no hobbies, friends, or sunlight. Trust me, I worked way too hard for a few years, and now I am working to rehab my back from the mistake. I also struggle with isolation and loneliness working for myself every day.

It is so important to strike a work-life balance for yourself, especially if you work from home. Lines are blurred, and it can be mentally taxing if you don’t allow yourself to shut down and shut off. For a while, I wasn’t doing this, and you know what? My work productivity and product suffered. I was not at the top of my game because it’s simply impossible to be a bionic human and work 120 hours per week with no qualms or problems.

I believe that at some point, if you invest in yourself and your happiness, that will show in your work. As a result, powering down will actually earn you more money in the long run, and you’ll be happier, too.

So what do I do to ensure a healthy work-life balance every week?

Schedule in Meal Hangouts

If you work alone all day, that’s not healthy for you. You need to sit across from a human at some point and talk to them. Meals are a great time to do this, whether it’s lunch, dinner, or coffee. Grabbing a drink isn’t a bad idea, either. I try and schedule dinners and drinks so that it forces me to power down by 6:00 PM, which is generally a bit healthier than working until 9:00 PM.

Since I am a planner, I plan out these social hangouts a few days in advance, so I know I am going to do what’s right for my mental health the next day.

If you can’t schedule meal hangouts or are trying to save money, go for a walk to a park, or somewhere with public immersion that will expose you to other human beings. I can’t stress this enough.

Work from Social Settings

Even though you can work from home, make the effort to go work at a café or coffee shop a few times per week. Some people find they are more productive in these types of settings because they can’t lounge on the couch or take their shoes off. Make an effort to work in a coffee shop where you can hear other people talking and laughing.

After a while, you might make friends with the staff there, and get in some essential socialization while you are working with your laptop every day.

If you are going to be on the road frequently, then working from social settings becomes easy for you – it’s the only place you can work.

Strictly Power Down by 9:00 PM

No one can work for 18 hours straight. I don’t care what you tell yourself – it just isn’t possible. Try and set a time for yourself that you cannot go over, no matter how badly you want to. At some point, you have to walk away from the work, and that’s ok.

There is a danger in letting your work define you. What if your work ended? Who would you be? You need to have hobbies or something else that you are looking forward to doing when you are done working. Share pictures on Instagram, text your mom, cook, clean, or just do something that you can feel in your heart and soul.

I believe it’s important to spread yourself out so that one setback isn’t a massively shocking event for you that will not be able to come back from.

Prioritize the People You Love

Work is not everything. If your best friend has a party coming up on Friday, it’s ok to say no to an order that comes in that day. You need to make sure that you make time for the people who love you. I am going to touch on saying no in the coming chapters, but just never forget that people are more important than money and accolades.

When you prioritize the people you love, they will prioritize you. This kind of love and support is very important for us as human beings – we need to feel like we are part of a community.

All of this stems from the cultural side of time management. You need culture, community, and love if you are going to be a successful and fierce time manager every day. As humans, we desire more than just the work we complete – that’s why a work-life balance is so important.

I have struggled with this from time to time, and trust me, it’s just not worth it. A family that loves you is more rewarding at the end of the day than a lump sum of cash in your bank account! Don’t forget it.

saying no

Hack #8: Learn to Say No

Learning when it’s the appropriate time to say no to a project or a client is definitely a sensitive and hard-to-teach skill. This took me a really long time, and if I’m being honest, I still don’t think I am great at it. I pride myself on being a yes man, and accepting every single order that comes my way. It has certainly made me successful at what I do, but with a cost. I feel burnt out sometimes and downright abused by people that I “had a feeling” were going to be abusive clients. But I said yes anyway.

This is a chapter that I am writing to myself, too.

Here are a few red flags that tell me it’s definitely time to say no:

● They start off their message with a complaint about another freelancer. Every single time someone messages me about a potential collaboration, and immediately tells me a previous freelancer was “terrible” and created “horrible content,” it already tells me this person loves to complain – and that they are impossible to please.

I continued to say yes for a while to these people, only to find that I, too, (according to them) produced terrible content. Some people just can’t be pleased, and you need to get them out of your professional life as quickly as possible.
● They immediately ask you for a discount. I find it rather rude when people immediately ask me to discount my services. For starters, why do you deserve a discount? What have you done for me? Secondly, it tells me they aren’t interested in quality work – they are interested in getting the job done. Many times, these people will try to steal my work and then demand a refund. Walk away.
● They aren’t satisfied with your 2-3 writing samples that you provide per their request. If your initial samples aren’t enough for the buyer, that’s a bad sign. It already tells you they are difficult before you have even started the project.
● They have poor reviews from other sellers. I can’t speak for every platform, but many freelancing platforms allow sellers to rate their buyers. If their profile is littered in 1-star reviews, that should be a major red flag.
● They don’t use polite verbiage, like “hi” or “thank you.” I personally can’t stand when people write to me “write this web content by tonight” with no salutation or anything. You want to work with people that are interested in treating you as another human being – it’s not worth the stress otherwise.

These tips hold true for freelancing off of platforms as well. Look for signs of a negative attitude in email, text and, if possible, schedule a call. You can learn a lot about someone if you manage to get them on the phone.

However, manage your time wisely, which means you don’t want to offer up calls left and right. Do it sparingly – otherwise, people will chat your ear off when you could have been providing a service to another client.

Remember: don’t feel guilty if you say no. Saying no is a hugely important part of running your own business. As a freelancer, you don’t have a big company name and three managers that are going to vouch for you. It’s just you, and only you at the end of the day. Saying no is one of the most powerful things you can do. I have wasted many hundreds of hours of my life bickering with people that simply placed an order to fight with me.

You will more wisely manage your time if you cut out the distracting and hostile people. Believe me. This holds true for every single work-at-home job.

boss lecturing his employee about time management

Hack #9: Rise Above Micromanaging

Without delving into too much detail, I manage different people and teams on a daily basis. The biggest mistake you can possibly make if you find yourself in this kind of managerial role is obsessing over the little details. If you are running your own operation, worrying about a missed edit here and there isn’t going to do you any good.

Instead, approach every project and team from a macro-management perspective. This can be hard for a lot of hands-on people, especially people that love the details. For the sake of time management (remember, time is a finite resource), you have to learn to let some things go.

I personally manage my people from this viewpoint, as I do not proof and toothpick every single thing they write or edit for me. I want to show them that I respect them, so I give them some freedom for extended periods of time. If it is brought to my attention that they missed an essential edit, then I address it as needed. But I want them to feel like they have some autonomy – that way, they take more pride in their work.

So what are my tips for maintaining a macro-management mindset?

● Do not open every single little document created underneath you. I fully believe that if you want to go looking for a shortcoming or problem, you are going to find it. Therefore, resist the urge to go through every single project with a magnifying glass. First, ask yourself: did they follow directions and, overall, do what was asked? If yes, then be sure to remain calm if there is a mistake here and there.

If you feel like your help is so bad, that you need to babysit everything they do, then maybe it’s time to consider new partners. You should be able to step away and manage the business for the majority of the time.
● Treat your teams and partners with respect. This is a pretty easy concept: treat the people around you with respect. People are pretty simple – if you respect someone and treat them fairly, they are more likely to produce great work for you on a daily basis. If you treat them terribly, they aren’t going to care about you or your goals. Invite them in on your goals – make them part of the discussion.
● Worry about the big picture every day. When you wake up in the morning, think about the big picture. What are you going to do today that will get you to that big picture? Keep that in the back of your mind as you manage the smaller things on your daily schedule.
● Read over your long-term goals more than your short-term goals. When you’re staring at your agenda blog, obsess over those long-term goals more than the short-term goals. Acquaint yourself with the end-game so that you are less concerned about the interim.
● Practice the Golden Rule. Have some awareness. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Do you like it when a boss is breathing down your neck? Probably not. Have some awareness of your position and treat people fairly.

I ended up leaving my public relations job in New York City because of micromanagement. It made me feel so disrespected as a creative that I didn’t know what to do. I was crying at my desk (and I’m not someone who cries). I like to be professionally treated with respect – and I know that goes for most people!

If you feel like you are continuing to hire people that are not fit for the job, then consider fine-tuning your onboarding process. With the right people, you shouldn’t have to micromanage.

man hugging himself

Hack #10: Take Care of Yourself

This is a tough one. How many of us are terrible at taking care of ourselves? I know I’m guilty as charged. So guilty that my back is now slightly bent from sitting poorly and failing to check it out over the last 3 years working as a digital nomad.

You have to take care of yourself because no one else is going to – especially if you are trying to freelance on your own. You’re a solo entity, and trust me, that can get lonely and isolating from time to time.

I make an effort, at least one day per week now, to take care of myself and treat myself to some kind of spa or massage treatment. It’s important to reward yourself for how hard you are working.

Now, I’m not saying go out on social media and brag all day and night about your success. I’m talking about quiet things you can do for yourself that no one else needs to know about.

It took me 4 years to understand how important self-care is, which is why I can’t stress this final chapter enough.

Here are just a few ways to take care of yourself amid the crazy digital nomad lifestyle:

● Prioritize Sleep: If you feel like you are going to cut into your sleep schedule, put down the project. Shut down the laptop and walk away. Nothing is more important than sleep, especially if you want to maximize the use of your time the next day. Prioritize the rejuvenation of your body.
● Make Time for Loved Ones: If your friend has an anniversary this week, it’s ok to say no to a looming project. Make time for the people that matter the most in your life – they are here to support you.
● Get a Weekly Massage: Sitting is not great for your body. Massage therapists can work out the kinked muscles around your back and hips that need to be engaged weekly if you want to avoid serious back problems down the line. You can find massage therapists that will get the job done for $45 in 30-45 minutes.
● Power Down at a Certain Point: Make a commitment to shut down work at a certain time every day, so you know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Do not let your work swallow you whole.
● Have Some Dessert: By the end of the day, have a little ice cream. Each a chocolate candy – do what you need to do to feel rewarded. There is no need to torture yourself.
● Share Your Story: I find it very therapeutic to write about my days on Instagram. Other people around the world write in, and it makes me feel more connected. Share your story in a way that is right for you.

Your Top Time Management Blog

So there you have it! There is my secret 10-point time management recipe that I discover keeps me disciplined, productive, and ready to go every single day. I wish I could have been more humorous or light-hearted with the topic, but there’s nothing funny about the management of time.

To me, time is your secret weapon. It’s free and available to you each morning you wake up. How you use that time is up to you.

If you follow my tips here in this blog, I believe you will be able to scale up any kind of online venture, right from home.

Want to know more about working from home, making money on the road, living life as a digital nomad, and mastering the art of online marketing? Stay tuned.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Menu