Monday, January 6, 2014

Have More Free Time This 2014! Here's How

If you're like me, who's been freelancing for more than 10 years, you already know that you have to continually adjust your work as well as personal habits in order to sustain your career.

While having the freedom to set our own pace and work around our preferred schedule are just some of the benefits we relish as professional freelancers, after some time we will mature to a certain level of expertise and be able to perform more efficiently, decreasing the number of minutes or even hours we spend on certain tasks.

In short, we can now focus on having more free time.

Why should freelancers care about setting aside blocks of time all throughout the week and own them as their free time? Here are the top three reasons:

  • To prevent burn-out. A healthy freelancer, which means being both physically fit and mentally sound, results to a more productive worker. Imagine having very few days where you lie in bed sick because you take time to eat right and exercise.
  • To have time for hobbies and recreational activities. This will make you more well-rounded and better adjusted.
  • To cultivate relationships and grow one's network, both professionally and personally. 

So, being able to work more effectively in less time creates a win-win effect for all of us. Here are some guidelines: 

Plan your weekly schedule by Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.

You can create a chart using Microsoft Word or use a desk calendar with plenty of space to jot down tasks. Let's say you spend the first few hours of the day reading email, or sending out queries or billing clients.

Choose to tackle your most difficult or tedious tasks first, and then gradually move on to easier, less demanding tasks.

Now, here's a word about sticky notepads. Only use them for writing down emergencies that deserve your attention before the day is over (e.g. a client makes a call and asks for a few revisions, or someone asking you for your price quote). 

YOU SAVE: One hour a day

Reduce the time you spend on social media by 50 percent.

I once heard about a magazine writer who confessed to spending roughly two hours a day on Facebook. That would add up to a total of 14 hours a week! Imagine the amount of time she could have spent on other activities (e.g. doing research for future articles) if only she limited herself to an hour a day on social media. 

For some of us who's freelancing, especially writers like me, having an account on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and SkillPages can be beneficial. These sites allow us the freedom to network with our peers on a regular basis.

But if you're the type who runs out of time because you need to check what all of your friends are doing and what all of them are having for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this may be difficult. So pause for a while and think: "These details don't matter at all. And we'll probably be able to catch up over the weekend, or plan for a get-together."

YOU SAVE: Five to seven hours a week

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