Are you a virtual assistant or other freelancer trying to establish an effective system for your business? Since I started my journey, I’ve learned (sometimes painfully) a few tips that have helped me become more efficient. I share some of them with you in this article.
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Get a Planner or Calendar and Use It
It’s easy to think you’ll remember all the projects you have on hand, what’s due, and when it’s due. But remember, we’re humans in constant motion, and our brains can only recall so much. You’ll forget something, and that can lead to you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.
Let’s say you have to cram a project into an already tight schedule because you forgot about it. You’ll probably not be able to give the task 100% of your time and skills, and you could end up with a disgruntled client.
There’s a simple fix for this. Get a calendar, planner, or calendar software, and use it! Schedule your projects, not only when they’re due but also when you’re going to work on them. Write EVERYTHING down.
Need free calendar software? Check out the Google Calendar.
Stay Focused During Work Time
As a freelancer, you can work from anywhere you want. You can work from your home office, the local coffee shop, the park or the family get-together (maybe not so much here LOL). This freedom also comes with some issues; it’s not always easy to focus.
Surfing the web, checking your email or scrolling through Facebook can be serious distractions.
If you struggle with focus, consider using a timer to help you stay on track. Set the timer for however long it should take you to complete a project and work on it until the timer goes off. If you’ve been focusing on your project, you should be done or at least close to it.
If you’re like me, you may need to break the time down into smaller increments. You’ll have to test this out to see what best suits you. For example, you could set a timer for 30 minutes and then stay laser-focused for this amount of time before stopping for a 5-minute break.
Translate Your Work Productivity into Money (If money motivates you, haha!)
Let’s be real here. We want to make money (while still providing excellent service!) and as much of it as possible, right?
Working towards a financial end-game is a great way to help you stay focused and on task.
Here’s an example of what I mean: if you have 25 posts to write and it takes you five days to write those posts at a rate of $20 per post, you’re making $25 per hour in a four-hour day. But if you can write those same posts in three days without sacrificing quality, you’re making $42 an hour, a much more motivating hourly rate!
Allow Time for Relaxation and Play
You know what they say about all work and no play. If you overwhelm yourself, you’ll end up cranky and unable to complete projects.
Set aside some time to chill out. Put work aside for a while. Go to the mall and window-shop. Or visit your local museum. Take a nap if you need it. A short one LOL. Like I indicate in my post on getting sleep, a nap shouldn’t last for more than 45 minutes. Anything longer, you’ll probably feel sluggish and even more tired.
You’ll be focused and better able to manage your work time if you take some time out to relax.
Make Room For Changes
Honestly, some days just suck. Maybe you’d planned on transcribing a recording for a client, and you wake with a migraine. Ouch! I get these, so I know what a pain in the you-know-what they can be.
If your transcription is due on the day after you planned on completing it, you’re in some hot water.
However, if you’ve made room in your calendar for off days, rush jobs and other challenges life throws at you, then you’ll still get the job done in time.
Always add some buffer time to allow for the unexpected. If you know you can complete a transcript in 24 hours, allow an additional day or two just in case something (like life!) happens.
Managing your time as a freelancer is a skill you develop. Experiment to see what works best for your personality and lifestyle. Pay attention to what you do daily, weekly, and monthly. How are things really going? What challenges did you have? What can you do to make positive changes?
Try some or all the tips in this article, and you should have a significant head-start.
Key points from this article:
- Know and understand your limits – you want to be the best at what you do no matter how many hours you work.
- Take care of yourself so you can take care of your family and clients
- Set goals (and write them down!) so you’ll be as productive as possible.
- Stay focused and try to avoid distractions.
Here are some additional resources that have helped me on my journey. Check them out to see if they’ll be of value to you also:
- An Excellent Planner for Setting Your Goals – I use this planner to set my goals for the year. You can make changes and add details as you go along. I include my current and future projects on this planner as well. You can also opt-in for the guide which is free to download.
- I use checklists to help organize my day – these are my favorites
- Lisa’s Freebie Library – The always gracious Lisa Mills of Heart My Life provides an impressive collection of free resources on her site for blogging and business. Feel free to check it out and download to help meet your business goals!
If you found some helpful information in this post, please share it!