During any given day I do a lot of different things. I’m working on short stories, help people with their WordPress websites and German skills, write blog posts like this one and try to be a normal human being that gets enough fresh air and food.
Sometimes I joke that the day doesn’t have enough hours, the week not enough days and so on and so forth.
But in the end it is all about time management. Especially if you are one of us freelancers or “power procrastinators”.
So. Time Management. Sounds like something out of a business seminar or self-help book, right?
To me it did when I first heard about it. And to be quite honest, it still sounds rather dull: Time Management…
In most peoples’ minds it brings up associations of discipline, routine and planning. Freelancers want to be free of all of that, don’t they?
So, let’s see what happens when we get rid of time management altogether..
Manage Your Time, Lest It Manages You
You start your morning sitting in front of a screen and have a ton of things to do. So you first check your email, see what’s new on Twitter, hang around on Facebook a bit and before you know what’s happening it’s already noon.
By afternoon you still haven’t gotten anything done. But you have checked your email and facebook more than twenty times.
You have “so many ideas”, so much brilliance locked up inside of you just waiting for a chance to be unleashed, but somehow there’s never enough time (!) to get started writing that novel, to work on that song, to write the first few lines of code for that new project.
By the evening, your brain is tired. You look back at the day with a sigh:”If only I would have…” and halfhearted convictions for the next: “Tomorrow everything will be different” while you know that it’s probably going to be the same.
The above scenario is an absence of time management and while exaggerated it affects us all to some degree, especially if you’re one of us freelancers who can’t put the responsibility on someone else’s shoulder. Freelancer are their “own boss” but they’re also their “own worst nightmare”.
What to do? Here are a few time management ideas for freelancers…
A Handful of Tools & Practices For Taming Your Time
Here’s a few time management tips that I’ve found to be helpful:
1. Schedule A Meeting With Yourself
Now, this will sound weird to some people (it certainly does to me) but I’ve found that if I treat every task in my life like an important business meeting, a date (or any other appointment that I wouldn’t miss for all the world) things get a lot easier.
So, when I can’t seem to drag myself out of distraction, I go to my calendar and schedule a meeting with myself, let’s say: “Writing from 9:00-10:00”) – it’s very simple, but it works. And you’ll notice that getting started is the hard thing. Once you’re in it, you’re easily doing more than planned! Plus, the brain releases some of its satisfaction juices once a job is done!
2. Lock It, Block It, Break – Erase It!
If you’ve scheduled a “meeting with yourself” and you’re still checking Email, Facebook etc. it’s a sign you’re not giving yourself enough credibility. So we’re going to need bigger guns. One of them is blocking websites altogether.
I’ve described one way of doing it here.
3. Destroy The Internet (For a Limited Time)
While I’m happy to say that I’ve never had to resort to this last option, there’s a danger of unblocking temporary blocks of websites for the flimsiest of reasons like needing to “look up that message on Facebook” or “re-reading that article posted on Twitter yesterday”.
So, if you’re not taking your blocks seriously, use the Uber-Block: DESTROY THE INTERNET…or well, at least block it completely for a specific time.
There’s software to help you do that, but you could also just unplug your router for a period that you’ve agreed upon before.
But remember, freelancers – in the end, there are no magic bullets! And don’t worry, we all suffer from it. Here’s how Paulo Coelho deals with it, for example.