Time Management and Motivation as a Freelancer

Its a cold winters morning, the house is freezing, your bed is warm and you don’t have to visit any clients until 2pm. Its just too easy to remain in bed in these situations. Now its 3:30pm, you have visited your clients, fixed them up and decide to take a short break by playing some computer games. The end of the week rolls around and you realize you haven’t really gotten much done, welcome to the world of working for yourself. In this article we’ll show you some tips on how to remain motivated and manage your time as a freelancer.

The story above is pretty much how I was in the early days of my own business. I had lots of great ideas and knew exactly what I wanted to do but a lot of it just didn’t get done because I wasn’t managing my time properly. Now days I no longer have this problem because I learned some small tips along the way that keep me motivated and manage my time properly.

Rocks, Stones, Pebbles and Sand
This method of managing time is best told with a story I once heard.
A teacher shows his students a table with some large rocks, some smaller stones, some even smaller pebbles and a bag of sand and asks his students to make all of it fit into a bucket. They pour the sand into the bucket, then the pebbles, then the stones and then attempt to place the large rocks in there however they wont fit. The students respond that it cant be done.
So the teacher empties the bucket again, places the large rocks at the bottom, then pours in the stones which fill the empty space between the large rocks. He then pours in the smaller pebbles which fill in the empty space between the large rocks and stones. Then to top it all off he pours in the sand which because of its small grains fill in any remaining empty space between the rocks, stones and pebbles. The end result is that he has shown his students that its possible to make everything fit into the bucket if you do it in the right order.

In business, if you do the big 2 hour long tasks first, you can do the half hour jobs in between or after them. As for the smaller jobs which take a few minutes, you can do these while your supplier has got you on hold while on the phone. You still have the same amount of time in the day as before, but you are managing it better and getting more done.

Workin’ 9 to 5. What a way to make a livin’
You set out on your own to avoid the 9 to 5 but you will find that it is a great way to get things done because you have a deadline each day; the end of the day.
Before I took this one on myself I would work at any time because I enjoy my job and most things don’t require me to get things done during business hours such as designing my advertising.
When I moved out of home with my girlfriend it took two weeks before I could get my internet connected so I had to use my previous location as an office until the internet was connected at my place. Also, because we hadn’t brought a TV yet there wasn’t much entertainment there so I would make sure I was there when she returned from her 9 to 5 job to keep her company.
As a result of this, I would rush to get my work done before I had to leave for my apartment where I could no longer do any work, and by doing this I got a lot more done during the day.

Get Dressed, Put your Shoes on, Do your Hair
If I have no jobs to goto on a certain day, a lot of what I can do such as invoicing, designing ads, inventory and ordering I can do in my underwear because I don’t need to leave the house. However, for some reason, when I am dressed up to go out even if I don’t plan to leave the house, I get more work done.

Create Deadlines for Yourself
Your a nice guy and you don’t want to let down your clients right? Tell them that you will have something done by a certain time. This helps motivates you using the fear of letting your client down, which is quite an effective method. Just make sure you actually do what you say you will.

What do you guys do to keep you motivated and manage your time? Comments are open and you don’t need to sign up to post one.

Bryce Whitty

About the Author

Bryce Whitty
More articles by me...
Bryce is an Australian computer technician and the founder of Technibble. He started his computer repair business when he was 17 years old and is still running it 9 years later. He is an avid traveller and spends at least a month of the year in another country.

Comments (6)

  • Portercomp says:

    I have my lovely wife to help me be accountable. I’m pretty good at keeping up with things, but she makes sure I get them done. She’s my partner in computers.

    I say, be accountable to someone other than just your customers. That way you will keep your customers. Whether the person is your wife, husband, gf/bf, or even parent. Have some help you help yourself.

  • I don’t seem to have any problem motivating myself to help a client (especially when they’re paying well for our services).
    The only tip I can offer besides getting dressed first thing in the morning is to read for 10-30 minutes. Read anything, it doesn’t matter. What you’re doing is conditioning your mind first thing to be active and engaged. I find that helps especially when a client calls in with a random computer issue and we need to think fast and be accurate.

  • Here is a really good tool for time management that integrates with outlook http://www.effexis.com/achieve/planner.htm.

  • Tony Vargas says:

    Hi all!

    I just want to start as a freelancer but I don’t have the money to support the HARD days when nobody call you for service or support and then the big question is how can i pay my bills and rent?

  • Bryce W says:

    Tony, you could always remain at your day job, fix computers on the side and go freelance when the computer business picks up.

    As a freelancer you’ve always got to have savings because there are days where you make no money.

  • thor999 says:

    Yeah, thats what I’m doing, dealing poker at night, running my business during the day, and I have 2 partners doing the same thing. Hopefully it all works out…