Going Freelance? Ten Tips for Managing Your Schedule

Posted by - Eleanor Webb-Dickin on the 25th November 2020

There’s something incredibly tempting about going freelance; being your own boss, managing your own time and most importantly having your fair share of profits. So much so that there are currently over 2 million freelancers in the UK alone.

No matter what industry you are in, you have the option of branching out and working for yourself. 

There are so many benefits to going freelance but it does require a leap of faith. Taking full responsibility can be a scary prospect.

Some people have the natural skills and disposition to take to freelancing like a duck to water. They enjoy working alone, they’re not afraid to take risks, and they’re comfortable handling any side of a business.

However, many people lack the confidence to go it alone.

One of the most intimidating aspects of going freelance is having to manage your own schedule. If you get it right it can lead the way to success but if you get it wrong it can spell disaster.

Not everyone is a natural business person but knowing how to be organised is a crucial skill to have if you want to be your own boss.

We want you to build the expertise and confidence to go freelance because it can truly change your life. So, here, we let you in on the top ten tips for successfully managing your schedule.

Once you’ve mastered this important aspect, you can let your skills do the talking.

Freelance Diary Management 

The key to being organised in any aspect of life is to write things down, but this is especially true when it comes to freelance work.

Even with the best memory in the world, there will always be things that are forgotten. When you go freelance your livelihood depends on making sure every box is ticked, so don’t leave it to chance.

Make a note of any appointments you have, including times, to make sure you never miss any.

Doing so can have a negative impact on your reputation, and this can be extremely detrimental when you’re a freelancer.

It is also important to make a list of tasks you need to complete, and schedule them into your week. This helps ensure you have enough time to give them your full attention and complete them to the best of your ability.

Digitisation and Freelance Work

In this day and age, you’d be crazy to ignore the many benefits of digitising your business.

Digitisation automates processes; saving you a lot of time on a daily basis. Statistics show that operational efficiency improves by 40% when a business is digitised.

When you’re working freelance, time is precious as you wear many hats. Working for a company, there are lots of helping hands when you need them but when you go it alone, everything lands on your shoulders.

One of the many benefits of digitisation, is that it allows operations to be performed remotely. This helps you to make more of your time. You can be answering emails or re-ordering your schedule while you wait for a meeting to start. 

Freelance Customer Service

It’s easy to forget the importance of customer service when you become a freelancer. When it’s just you, you assume that without other staff members and specialised departments certain operations will have to take a back seat.

However, the reality is that all these things still need to be done, they just all need to be done by you! The joys of freelance working!

Customer service is one of the most important aspects of any business. It gives new customers that all important first impression, and is the key to retaining your existing customers.

Don’t let standards slip and make sure this aspect of your business is still prioritised. If you don’t have much experience in customer service, make sure you have some training in the most important aspects.

If you do have experience in customer service, you‘ll know just how time consuming it can be.

You might be wondering how on earth you’re going to juggle handling all of your customer queries, but don’t panic, there is an answer. Which brings me onto my next top tip…

Image showing working freelance from a coffee shop

Outsourcing

This top tip is a real gift! Outsourcing is the perfect solution for any freelancer struggling to stay on top of their schedule.

If you’re not sure what outsourcing is, in a nutshell it is hiring a third party like Cymphony to look after certain aspects of your business. One of the many benefits of outsourcing is that you don’t have to hire staff yourself.

Hiring staff can be a time consuming and expensive process. Being able to benefit from the time and skills of others, for a fraction of the price is a no-brainer!

You could outsource any aspect of your business that you find takes up your time. For many, this is often customer service.

Most businesses receive a high number of enquiries from new and existing customers, as well as relying on their customer service department to be an interface for new leads

Being in charge of your own business can be a stressful process, so it’s nice to be able to offload the aspect that requires the most patience to someone else.

Just make sure you outsource to an experienced company, as they will understand the importance of supplying only the best customer service agents.

Prioritisation 

As a freelancer it’s important to avoid the classic pitfall of not prioritising your responsibilities.

With so much to do, it can be hard to decide where to start. The key is to analyse the impact that each task will have on your business, and prioritise the most important. 

Not doing so can result in you spending loads of time on tasks that have little value, while those that could grow your business are left behind.

Smallbusiness.co.uk is just one of many advisory websites that stress the importance of this process, and they state that emails can be one of the main culprits when it comes to time consumption.

Make prioritising your to do list the very first thing you do at the start of each day. That way, you’ll never look back and regret letting yourself get wrapped up in the small stuff.

Image showing importance of writing things down when you’re freelance

Simplify

If you’re contemplating going freelance, chances are your head will already be spinning thinking about how on earth you’re going to juggle everything by yourself.

The key to being organised in any aspect of life it to simplify things done to the bare essentials.

 It’s easy to get in a muddle over all the little things. Keep taking a step back and considering how important whatever it is you’re doing really is for your business.

What could you cut out and what would the consequences be if you did? If they’re small, the time that you free up would be far more valuable as you could dedicate it to something that benefits your business in a big way.

Keep your schedule as simple and minimal as possible to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Allowing yourself to get lost in a negative spiral of stress over insignificant things could lead you to believe you cant do it. But you can! All it takes is some strategic thinking.

Work smarter, not harder.

Delegating

Something that many people struggle with when they start their own business or go freelance, is letting go of control.

When you first start out, you want everything to be perfect as your livelihood depends on it. You want total control over every aspect of your business, so it can be difficult to accept that you need help.

Needing an extra paid of hands can be a sign that you are doing well, so don’t worry. Letting someone else take over an aspect of your work can be a daunting prospect, but it doesn’t have to be as risky as you think.

Many freelancers find that hiring an assistant is a great way to keep on top of things while still retaining control.

You don’t even have to hire them as a full time member of staff; you can simply hire them from somewhere like Cymphony on a temporary basis, whenever you need them.

Using a well-established agency ensures that you can tap into a brilliant existing skill set. Training requirements will be at a minimum; you would only need to explain the specifics of what you need help with.

Virtual personal assistants offer even more flexibility as they can be called upon at any time of day or night thanks to their remote nature.

Make the most of the skills of your personal assistant, which will be multitudinous.

Whether you need help answering calls, booking appointments, or with diary management, they can turn their hand to whatever it is that’s causing you the most stress.

Your Workspace

Have you heard the phrase ‘a tidy environment makes for a tidy mind’? It is a well known fact that by controlling the environment around you, you can control your state of mind. 

As business.com explains, your workspace reflects what’s going on in your brain, and the more organized it is, the more constructive and useful you’ll be

Make sure you have a designated workspace where you are able to get into a proactive frame of mind. Keep it organised and tidy and you will soon find that this way of thinking transfers to how you approach your daily tasks too.

Keep any stationery, filing and other belongings organised as well as organising the files and layout on your computer. It’s amazing the effect that this can have. 

Image showing the tidy desk needed when you go freelance

Working Hours

Don’t be tempted into giving yourself an easy life now that you are your own boss.

Would you expect flowers to grow if you didn’t feed them? Probably not, so you can’t expect your business to grow if you don’t put the time in.

Follow a standard Monday to Friday 9-5pm schedule, to make sure you’re dedicating enough time to your work.

The benefit of working for yourself is that you can be flexible when you need to be.

Maybe your lunch breaks spills over by ten minutes and for once there are no consequences! But don’t be too lenient with yourself as it can lead to a slippery slope.

Work/Life Balance

While it’s important to take a professional approach to freelancing, it’s just as important to make sure you have enough rest.

Detaching properly from your work at the end of the day and week allows you to recharge and be ready to give it your all when you go back.

Failing to maintain a a healthy work/life balance can lead to you feeling overwhelmed and drained. You’ll be less likely to cope when things get tough and you might even end up giving up on the dream altogether.

Make sure your dream becomes a reality by creating healthy boundaries for yourself, whether you’re someone who struggles to stay motivated or struggles to wind down.

Don’t feel guilty about doing this as the majority of workers, on average, only spend 2.8 hours per day on productive tasks. You don’t have to exhaust yourself to keep up with competition!

Have any of these tips resonated with you?

If you’ve already taken the leap into freelancing you’ll be able to relate to many of the issues raised. Hopefully we’ve given you plenty of inspiration on how you can approach things more productively. 

Maybe we’ve given you the confidence you need to make the jump in the first place. In which case, feel free to give Cymphony a ring for more advice and to find out how our team of staff can contribute to your success!