Learning to manage your time effectively as a self-employed professional can be the difference between success and failure. Without any pre-determined structure and at the mercy of others who depend on you to get their work done, managing your time can be a challenge. Regardless of the amount of work you currently have, or the amount of clients who seem to always need something right now, here are three tips that can help you take and keep control of your time and set parameters for success:
Set a work schedule
As a self-employed professional, not punching the clock may feel like a great benefit. However, in order to achieve more in less time, you have to set a work schedule that works with your current life responsibilities and work load and is consistent. For example, if you are a stay at home mom and a virtual assistant, your most productive hours may be when the children are in school or during nap times. Work out your weekly schedule based on two things: your workload and personal responsibilities.
Once you establish these parameters, make sure to let your clients know of your schedule.
Determine Response Guidelines
When a client or vendor sends you a new project to do, there is always an expectation to get it done fast. Guidelines of return need to be set from the beginning in order to prevent the client to feel frustrated due to a delay and you working late into the night to complete a project. Communicate with your clients the estimated time for email replies as well as work completion times. When you receive a new assignment, review it, and reply to the client with an estimated time of completion based on your schedule and workload. If the client agrees, you can work at your pace without feeling pressured.
Create a prioritization review process
Everyone’s work is important and needs to be done fast. Therefore, it’s up to you to set guidelines that help you determine which jobs jump the priority list. The review process can be based on either client preference or project importance. Whatever you choose, stick to the same priority technique. This will train your clients and train yourself. If you have a full plate with projects, be open and let your client know there will be a time delay. It’s always better to under promise and over deliver.
As a self-employed professional, it’s up to you to set yourself up for success. By taking the time to analyze your workload and time management strategies often, you will understand the true value of your time and your business decisions will reflect that. Remember, only you are responsible for your time investment; make sure it’s spent wisely.