Running you own business can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life. The joys of finding new clients, producing quality work, and potentially reaping a much larger profit for the endeavor entice people to quit their day jobs and dive into the market. However, few people are fully prepared to suddenly take on the task of running a business.
Being an employee simply does not equip a person with the innate understanding of how to manage one’s time to be successful. The following is a sample schedule used by many successful freelancers, utilize it when creating your own.
Separate the Day into Chunks
The best time of the day to get a large amount of work done is when no one will be interrupting you with new work or questions. Most people, especially writers, wake up around five in the morning and start typing. An initial work period of between six in the morning and eight will help push through a large chunk of the day’s work, all before most businesses open up for the day. This reduces a large amount of stress that juggling current and new work can bring.
Following that, break each hour into distinct chunks. Ten minutes for email, ten for phone calls, ten for breaks, and thirty for working. This helps you budget time and give both new clients and current projects the maximum amount of attention without creating any undue stress.
Incorporate Break Periods
A schedule is meant to reduce the amount of stress experienced during the completion of a project by removing uncertainty concerning the ability to complete certain tasks within a reasonable time frame. A key component of this is to incorporate time to handle personal matters, or to simply relax. A good ratio is ten minutes every hour to handle anything from going to the restroom to grabbing a quick snack.
Additionally, remember to take an actual lunch break. Working while eating only serves to lower the amount of attention given to a project, and thus lower the quality of the finished product.
Remember to Balance New and Old Clients
Handle current work at one point in the day, and new work at another. By separating the two into distinct camps, you prevent the possibility of new clients overtaking your business and suddenly departing, while old clients languish behind upcoming deadlines and missed emails.
A good rule of thumb is to separate the two into morning and afternoon segments, with older clients being taken care of before the business day really commences. This allows you the comfort of knowing that your current clients are well in hand, and you still have the energy and freedom to handle new work.
Learn What Your Limits Are
For any schedule to work, you need to understand how fast you can work, and for how long. This information serves to help formulate not only the amount you should charge clients, but the length of time any given project will take.
Carefully record your progress on numerous projects, and use the data to formulate time schedules for different types of projects. From there, utilize project management software like Microsoft Project to dedicate your time more efficiently. In the long run, knowledge is the most important tool you will have in your arsenal in helping ensure your business succeeds.
Break the day into distinct chunks, remember to take a break, and learn how long certain tasks will take. These four basic guidelines appear to be common sense, though they are skills that may take years to fully develop.
Image – NY Times