Taking the step to become a freelancer can be one of the most freeing experiences in your life. No more bossy supervisors, no more annoying co-workers, and no more annoying meetings. Ah, freedom.
Except, now you have to be your own boss. You have to be the one who sets and meets deadlines. You have to be the one who communicates directly with clients and who makes sure all the work gets done. Which can get overwhelming.
Luckily, there are many techniques you can use to work smarter and get more done in less time.
1. Find a task system that works for you.
Staying organized is one of the most important steps to being successful. You simply cannot afford to let tasks fall through the cracks or deadlines pass you by. It is up to you to stay on top of everything, so you have to find a method that works for you.
There are tons of tools on the market to help you keep track of all your tasks, so it is really a matter of finding what works best for your work style. If you are a visual person, Trello is a good choice, but if you like lists consider a platform like Wunderlist. If good old pen and paper works for you, use that.
2. Stay on top of financials.
One of the scariest parts of going out on your own is figuring out the money. You have to make sure you save enough for taxes, get paid on time, track expenses, and remember to send out invoices. It is a hassle, and you may not feel like you have a head for numbers, particularly if you are freelancing in a more creative field.
But, to be successful staying on top of your finances is vital.
I highly recommend using a finance program that will help you stay organized. Some of the programs will help you save money on PayPal fees, track late payments, and even track hours you spend on each job. A few popular programs are:
3. Stay focused.
The good news is, as a freelancer you can work in your pajamas all day. The bad news is, as a freelancer you can work in your pajamas all day. With all the freedom in the world, distractions can become super tempting. And with no boss over your shoulder, it can become very difficult to stay focused and get work done.
You need to figure out how you work best and put yourself in the optimal situation each and every day.
This might mean working from a coffee shop, getting dressed in professional clothing, checking email once a day, renting space at a co-working site, or using white noise. Find what works best for you and stick to it.
4. Take breaks.
When you are down to the deadline, taking a break seems counter-intuitive. Doesn't it make more sense to power through and just get the job done?
Actually, it may take you even longer than if you stopped to let your brain rest.
Taking a break helps your brain focus better, prevents burn out, and helps you stay on task. It also helps you make better food choices, which can help you control weight gain. There are lots of benefits to taking breaks, even just a few minutes each hour.
Step away, stretch your back, and you just might find a new perspective.
5. Ask for advice.
There are almost 53 million freelancers in the US, which means there are 53 million people out there who have all taken the leap to becoming a freelancer/entrepreneur. Ask others for advice if you need something. I've done this over the years. The more I humble myself and admit that I don't know everything... the easier it is to get exactly the information I need. Find and network with these people.
As a freelancer, you have the freedom to work from anywhere, to make your own schedule, and to accept work that excites you. But, it is also up to you to make sure you stay organized and handle all the tasks associated with running a business. Instead of getting overwhelmed by it all, use these tips to work faster and smarter.