Thanks for the great suggestions Laura! One other suggestion is to go easy on the social media. I find that limiting myself to about a 1/2 hour to an hour at most each day still provides a benefit to my networking, but does not distract me from getting more prevalent tasks completed.
Super Easy Timesavers for Super Busy Freelancers
Most days I face a challenging to-do list with more tasks on it than I could possibly accomplish. That’s why I make it my mission to work as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The alternative, working extra hours or missing a deadline, is just not acceptable.
Of course, a mountain of self-help books, blogs, videos, and other materials already exists to help us learn to manage our time more effectively. The trouble is, like most freelancers, I just don’t have enough time to go through all those resources.
In this post, I pulled together some of the quickest and easiest time save hacks that you should be able to use right away. If you’re looking for even more time saving tips, you can find some more here.
Timesavers to Use Right Now
How can I get more things done? Have you ever asked yourself that question? I think that most freelancers have.
Well, at least I know that I have. Here are a few of the answers that I discovered to help save time:
- Use productivity tools. It just takes a few minutes to download a productivity tool, but once you’ve got it set up on your computer you can use it to help you stay focused indefinitely. A few good productivity tools include focus booster and StayFocused.
- Pre-plan your day. Before I end work each day, I make a list of what I need to do the next day. The most important things are always at the top of the list. The least important things are at the bottom. When I start work the next day, I already have my day mapped out for me.
- Voicemail. Unless you know for sure that you will receive an important call at a particular time, train yourself to let your phone calls go to voicemail. Better yet, turn off the ringtone. Designate two or three times a day to listen to your voicemail and to deal with any urgent business.
- Don’t multi-task. Multi-tasking when you’re busy may seem to be good common sense, but it’s not. Experts have found that trying to do more than one thing at the same time is counter-productive. Multi-tasking slows you down. It also causes you to be more likely to make a mistake. Do one thing at a time.
- Use your mobile devices. I used to hate to waiting in line or in a waiting room. What I hated most about such waits was the time wasted when I had so much to do. Fortunately, now you can turn your wait time into productive time by bringing along a mobile device.
- Pick the right project. When you choose your work projects, try to stick mostly to projects within your own area of expertise. You’ll be able to use your existing knowledge as well as apply lessons learned from earlier projects. You’ll work more quickly and your client will be happier too.
- Don’t check email. At least, don’t check it more than two or three times a day. Checking email more often merely interrupts your workflow. The same goes for anything else that you check frequently (web stats, Facebook account, Twitter, Google+, and so on).
- Have a life. Really. Schedule some rest and relaxation time for yourself. When you’re done, you’ll come back to work refreshed and ready to go. I always find that I work more slowly when I’m tired (and that’s not a very good use of time). I’ve also come up with some of my very best ideas after taking a break.
- Exercise while you work. Have you been wanting to go to the gym, but can’t seem to find enough time for to work out? Good news if you’re trying to stay fit. You may be able to combine work and exercise. This special desk featured on the Lifehacker blog might just do the trick. It’s got a built-in exercise bike and space to put your laptop. (I’ve never actually tried this, but the idea intrigues me.)
I’ve shared my easiest timesavers with you and linked to twenty more tips that will help you save time. Now it’s your turn.
How do you save time? Share your best tips in the comments.
Image by Alan Cleaver
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February 8th, 2012 at 10:55 am
February 8th, 2012 at 11:29 am
4. Don’t multi-task.
9. Exercise while you work.
What gives? Isn’t exercise while you work MULTI-TASKING?
February 8th, 2012 at 3:09 pm
I love RescueTime http://learningrl.net/resuce-your-day-with-rescuetime/ for tracking where I spend too much time and the Pomodoro Technique for keeping focused on one task at a time.
February 8th, 2012 at 3:22 pm
Most days I stay on a pretty tight schedule with my social media. Like you said, it’s more efficient that way (and it’s too easy to lose an entire day in social media otherwise).
Gold–Yep! I actually thought of that when I wrote it and even wondered if you’d say something. The answer is that this is not a “how-to” “step-by-step” list. Rather, it is a list of suggestions. Some freelancers will find most of the ideas helpful. Other freelancers may only pick out one or two ideas. :)
Thanks for sharing how you save time.
February 8th, 2012 at 10:40 pm
Thanks for your article. Very true.
Another discovery I had with my productivity is finding when I am most productive and can work with full focus. I am a night person and love to work at night. The only problem is my mind is not as fresh as in the morning. To solve this problem, I normally give a break in the afternoon to have more energy and can focus at night. The work I can do in 2 hours in the night from 10 to 12 pm has the value of 5-4 hours of interrupted time in the morning.
February 9th, 2012 at 3:27 am
Thanks for the awesome post. Keep on going; I will keep an eye on it.
February 9th, 2012 at 7:28 am
Thanks for adding your tip. That’s very helpful!
February 9th, 2012 at 2:25 pm
February 13th, 2012 at 9:03 am
Of all the points, points 5 and 7 are most valuable I feel. Whenever one of us are out for meetings, it’s good to be able to connect and respond back to clients while on the go, secondly, constant checking of emails can really derail one’s concentration. Best to shut down the email program and check only when the task at hand has been completed.
April 3rd, 2012 at 8:40 pm
Great post! I’m notoriously bad at checking email often. I need to break that habit and just close that browser tab when working. It can be so distracting.
April 17th, 2012 at 8:04 pm
I’m pretty ADD, so I find that writing a list helps, but I can’t really prioritize it ahead of time. I’m a little more flexible. I kind of just work through the list depending on my energy and focus. As long as the list is completed by the end of the day, I’m good.
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