My three rules for time management

As a freelance it feels nice not having someone to boss you around, but you will still need some rules for time management to meet your deadlines.

As a freelancer, having nobody dictating rules and organizing your schedule is great in so many ways. Yet most of us soon experience the difficulty of having to work from home. I felt I needed a strategy to organize my life, so I came up with my personal 3 golden rules for time management.

RULE #1: Eliminate distractions and interruptions

Constant interruption drastically reduces efficiency and increases tiredness. Every time you interrupt your work, you lose the dynamic and speed you had reached, and getting back to that point will be time and energy consuming. So my advice is:

  • Make sure you close any social media page and put your e-mail alerts and phone on silent mode.
  • Let people around you know and respect your rules.
  • Learn to distinguish real emergencies from important things that can wait for a couple of hours, until you decide to take a break from work.

RULE #2: Batch tasks to accomplish more

I believe it is the best way to increase efficiency and decrease frustration. Once we get started on something, it’s easier to carry on, as opposed to doing disconnected things in a random order. Here are some examples of the criteria I use to batch tasks:

  • Efficiency curve. I will do a long session of intellectual-intensive work either early in the morning when nobody is around, or late at night, after taking a long break from work to spend time with my family.
  • Preferences. I hate administrative chores, so I do them all together, once every couple of weeks or… month, so it only hurts once!
  • Place and context. I batch activities according to the place (home, downtown, on the internet…) and the social context (with my kids, with friends, alone…).

RULE #3: Set goals every week

Listing goals helps me keeping focused on big priorities while making sure I fulfill all my little obligations. I use 2 sorts of “to do lists”:

  • The “don’t forget to do” list: I list all the chores and all sorts of important/unimportant things I need to attend to each day, i.e. call the bank, shop for groceries, send an invoice, etc.
  • The list of “main priorities of the week”: I list a couple of important goals I have set for myself for a particular week, like launching my blog, developing my client base, organizing my accounting spread sheets, etc. Never set too many big goals at once, as you need to put a lot of effort on each one of them. Also, keep in mind that it’s rewarding to accomplish an important goal, and you can use this positive feeling as a driver to move on to you’re the next one, whereas setting too many goals at once will increase your anxiety and you will probably postpone several times before accomplishing some of them, which is frustrating.

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