As an independent contractor, finding ways to effectively manage your time can be a constant challenge. Many people decide to go independent for greater control over their work and personal life. They enjoy being their own boss, setting their own hours, and deciding who they work for and when.
Maintaining this balance can take some experimentation—what works for one person might not fit with you. Below are five strategies you can put your own twist on to manage your valuable time in the best way possible.
Find Ways to Outsource Simple Tasks
There are so many small responsibilities you have when you run your own business. not only are you trying to produce great work for your clients, but you are also trying to create an ongoing pipeline of work, pay your bills, manage taxes, and stay on top of marketing efforts. That’s a lot to ask of a single person.
To give yourself a helping hand, first consider what back-office tasks you are efficient at doing or don’t mind completing. Then, brainstorm ways you might be able to outsource those not-so-fun tasks. For example, there are apps and software that you can use to schedule your social media posts. If project management is your weak point, try a project management tool that can help you set due dates and manage lists of tasks. Try using apps to track client hours, scan and upload documents, or track project-related expenses. If your business is growing rapidly and you really need extra help, you might consider hiring someone for part-time assistance.
Check out: 12 Must Have Productivity Apps for Self Employed
Check and Respond to Email on a Schedule
Emails come at all hours of the day, and it can be tempting to sort, read, and respond to them as they arrive in your inbox. Instead, start by setting up a sorting system so your most important communications or emails from a current client go in one folder, and emails that can wait for your response go in another.
Then, consider setting a schedule for checking and responding to the emails. Perhaps you start with 30 minutes three times a day. Once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and a final check and response before you log off for the day. This method can help you save valuable time and not get stuck being at the beck and call of that ding in your inbox. See what timing works for you and adjust accordingly.
Up next: How to Take Control of Your Personal Time as a Consultant
Set a Schedule and Stick to It
Setting a general schedule for your day is another helpful way to make best use of your working hours. A schedule can help prevent you from getting sucked into working on one task while putting aside others that have higher priority.
A schedule doesn’t mean you have to adhere to a specific task each minute of every day. Instead, start by creating a rough outline of tasks you need to complete. At a minimum, try setting aside time for predictable tasks that you know you must accomplish such as monthly invoicing, reading and responding to email, attending client meetings, and taking a break.
Try it: 6 Time Management Strategies for Small Business Owners
Take Meaningful Breaks
When you have a lot on your plate, the last thing you might feel like doing is stopping to take a break. After all, isn’t a break valuable time that you could be using to do work? In reality, taking time for yourself can actually help to boost your performance.
Every few hours, try to get up from your computer and take a short 5-minute walk, make yourself a snack, or read an article unrelated to work. be sure to give yourself at least one longer break during your day as well to do a workout, take a nap, or meet up with a friend. Giving your body and brain these brakes will help you come back to work refreshed. You’ll be able to get more done and be in a better headspace.
Here’s how: 4 Self-Care Tips to Practice When Working Remotely
Learn What Boosts Your Productivity
Everyone is going to have different ways of getting into a productive state of mind. You know that sought-after flow where time seems to fly by? For some people, it might help to get in a workout before starting the day. For others, it might be sticking to a daily routine of taking calls, networking, and dedicating time to projects at specific hours of the day.
Working in a dedicated office space might help get you in a productive mindset. Or, you might benefit from a change of scenery throughout your day. Try out a variety of strategies—even if you’re skeptical of them—to find what works best for you.
Check out: 9 Ways to Increase Productivity When You’re Self Employed