time management

Time Management Best Practices for the Independent Worker

Congratulations! You’ve struck out on your own and plan to become a freelance worker or even an entrepreneur launching your own solo venture. It’s a liberating feeling, working free of bosses and conference rooms. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? The short answer is yes, but with an asterisk.

Working independently is a challenge that many underestimate when they first start out. After all, what could be better than working in a coffee shop or even at home? What could replace the feeling of freedom knowing that a schedule can be set free of restrictions? However, working independently isn’t just a vacation in one’s pajamas. This requires a high level of time management, prioritization skills, and focus.

These are often the three things that hold the independent worker back from success. We’re here to help those who are newly independent improve their workflow so that they can truly enjoy the benefits of being a “nomad” in working terms.

Improving Time Management

We’ve touched on this briefly in previous articles, but managing one’s time is perhaps one of the single most valuable skills that any worker can have. This comes into play, even more, when an individual works independently. Why is this? Well, think of it logically. Without the constant supervision of a boss, or even of one’s cubicle mate, what is there to keep you from sitting on the couch watching reruns of The Office all day long? Self-motivation must come into play here, and time management also takes practice. Don’t sweat if staying on task or getting enough done is challenging at first. Make it a goal to improve your time management. Even if you feel you’re already killing this, we promise you can still improve.

Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize

Managing one’s own time, particularly when juggling multiple clients or assignments, calls on the skill of prioritization. It’s easy to get distracted or otherwise find ways to waste time. It’s also easy to spend too much time on a job that isn’t all that valuable. For example, let’s say a marketing freelancer manages social media for several different clients. Each week, it seems that the curation and creation of content, along with the scheduling of it, takes hours on end. It becomes tedious, and the freelancer hasn’t even started on the rest of the work she’s committed to this week! Social media scheduling is something that can be automated or done well in advance (within reason). Finding ways to make priorities shift will improve time management and free up windows of time that may not have otherwise been available.

Stay On Task

And finally, the old nemesis of staying on task. It’s something we all have struggled or currently struggle with. Just as with everything else listed in this article, improving focus is something that each individual needs to do in their own way. Nonetheless, this is important and also increasingly difficult to do with the reliance we all have on our mobile devices and computers, where so much information is available at our fingertips. So make a dedicated effort to improve your focus and stay on task. Many swear by the Pomodoro method of working, which simply sets work blocks at 25-minute intervals, followed by short breaks. Many users will say that this helps them stay on task for a dedicated amount of time. You may be pleasantly surprised by the amount of work you’re able to get done in this seemingly short window of time!

A concerted effort to streamline the work process will help any independent worker finally feel the liberation of working on their own. It’s certainly not for everyone, and it requires a healthy amount of self-sufficiency, but many thrive on this lifestyle. Sometimes, a little fine tuning is all that’s needed.