5 tips to help you manage your time more effectively

Find a work schedule that works for you with this insider advice.

You could be the most creative art director in the world, but without managing your time properly, you're never go to stay on track. Time management will make or break you. Getting it right means being paid properly for the work you do, ensuring you hit deadlines and keep business flowing. Here’s how...

01. Focus on the necessary

It’s easy to indulge in elements of a project you enjoy while putting other responsibilities further down the task list. Instead of making a general To Do list, triage what needs to be done by categorising tasks into what needs immediate attention, what needs attending to and what takes a lower priority. Focus on the difficult but necessary tasks earlier on in the day when you’re feeling fresher and brighter. 

02. Use a diary

There are way too many to list here, but time management and project management apps are near essential for freelancers. At the very least, use a diary to set deadlines and block out days on which you’ll be working on a particular project. As a lone creative, this doesn’t need to be forensic, nor understandable to anyone but yourself, but timesheets and schedules help you create a better sense of what you earn for what you do and ultimately help you to stay on track.

03. Block out time

Time and project management apps can help in scheduling but, ultimately, it’s up to you to create a schedule and then stick to it. This is made infinitely easier by sectioning your day or week into time-allotted periods. Spending an hour each day on email and admin means you can shut off email for the rest of the day, while spending a Friday afternoon sorting invoicing and cashflow can help you keep on top of business admin.

04. Break it down

A freelance creative’s role often means delivering elements then awaiting feedback or new assets or phases to work on. By breaking down a project’s elements and deadlines, you’ll be able to focus on achievable, realistic portions of work, rather than viewing a project as a single, big deliverable that sucks in all your time and energy.

05. Reduce interruptions 

Shutting off your email and turning your phone off is essential when working as a freelancer – in most cases it’s a myth that you should always be at the beck and call of your clients. The same also goes for social media and news feeds. By limiting the number of distractions you’re exposed to, you’ll reap the rewards in terms of productivity – this is essential when your time quite literally equals money.

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 259; buy it here