Time Management Tips for Freelancers and Consultants

There is no doubt that people are leading more hectic lives than ever these days. For that reason, solid time management skills have become a necessity, especially for freelancers and consultants; and even more so, for those that work at home. Review the tips and guidance that follow below, and you will soon acquire the knowledge necessary to effectively manage the tasks and duties that make your family run.

For those that have adapted Agile and SCRUM methodologies, you have probably already seen great increases in productivity.  After a few springs, some teams have doubled their output.   However, measuring the points and units of work can be tricky at first.

Utilize a timer. If you can’t seem to focus, use a timer and allocate yourself whatever amount of time that is available. For instance, if you desire to spend an hour on a task, set the timer for 15 minutes, go for a break, then come back to set the timer for another 15 minutes until you have worked on the task for one hour. You can now get various timers for your smart phone.  A popular technique being used is the Pomodoro Technique;  you set out what you want to do in the next 20-50 minutes, set the timer, then go.  At the end of the time, you must be done, you must take a break, then and only then you can start another Pomodoro (unit of work).

Schedule any important events or appointments. Try to create a time limit for those events. Once you have a schedule written out for the day, do your best to stick to it. If one thing goes overtime, find a place that you could reduce the allowed time. This will help you get through your day without going over your time constraints.

If you want to become an expert at time management, you have to develop a strategy for dealing with distractions. An extraneous problem can make it hard (or even impossible) for you to complete the work you need to do. Try setting aside a fixed portion of your working day for distractions. As they come up, make a note of them and deal with them only when their time has come.

Create a list of all of the tasks you have for a day. Once you have the list, go through and prioritize each item on the list. If you get behind on the day, you can knock off something that is at the bottom of the list and reschedule it for another day.

Make a priority list. Tasks that aren’t as important should be lower on the list as they can take up most of your time. By choosing to prioritize, you can ensure that you make the most of your time and energy, and get the things done that matter most to you. Keep a list on hand at all times with the important tasks on top.

In order to become a master of time management, you need to keep both the short- and the long-term in mind. Although it may feel more productive to concentrate on one task exclusively until it’s complete, weigh that feeling against the bigger picture. If you’re putting off major jobs in order to finish minor ones, you may be wasting a great deal of time!

Take about five minutes before your tasks and calls for deciding what results you wish to achieve. This can help you see success before you begin. It can also slow down some time. Try taking about five minutes after every activity and call to figure out if you achieved the desired outcome. If you didn’t, what did you miss? How can add the missing element to the next task?

Build time in your day for unforeseen interruptions. It’s time to own the fact that you can’t control what happens every minute. Things happen, whether you want them to or not. So add in buffer time into your schedule to handle these moments. That way, at the end of the day, you’ll still feel accomplished!

Prior to calling someone on the phone at work, take a few minutes to plan out the questions that you need answered. Often a lot of time is wasted simply through the rambling that occurs on the telephone when you don’t know what you really need. Having a sense of your goals prior will help keep you on track.

People are expected to be on time. When you are not on time, not only are you disrupting your own time management, you are disrupting others as well. Try to build extra time into your daily plan. This will help you meet deadlines and make every scheduled appointment during the day.

If you need peace and quiet to manage your time better, consider hanging up some do not disturb signs. A few simple signs, especially in a busy office environment, can alert those around you that your time is currently off limits. It’s not at all rude to put up these signs. In fact, most people will appreciate the hard work that you are doing.

Once you make a good to-do list, it should always be on your person. It’s a terrific resource to have available whenever you need to assess your progress. Some tasks could cause you stress or could take a toll on you emotionally. This can make you forget the other tasks on your list, and that causes you to get behind. By having a list, you can stay on track no matter the circumstances.

Get out of the house if you’re finding your concentration lagging. Sometimes a change of location is all that you need to renew your focus and operate much more effectively. It can be a real blessing to time management to change things up a few times during the day.

Given our busy lives, everyone could stand to brush up on their time management skills. Learning to properly juggle the demands of school, family and home can be tough, but it is essential. With any luck, reading the information presented above has given you the proper foundation for building a new, streamlined schedule for yourself.