“Time waits for no man,” I’m sure I remember my father telling me in one of his more philosophical moments, “Hurry up with that beer.” was probably the end of that sentence. Task management was perhaps his intended lesson.
When you work for yourself, you are ultimately in charge of your own time. I’ll stop short of saying you are in charge of your destiny because I’m confident that myriad factors affect that, and it’s a much more significant topic than I have time for today.
“Than I have time for”. Time, there it is again.
As a freelancer, it’s always challenging to be in control of your time when you have clients to keep happy and balanced.
For years I unintentionally operated under a ‘he who shouts loudest’ policy; whereby the client who annoys you the most gets their work done first, but I found this to be soul-destroying and it left me in a permanent state of anxiety. I developed a Pavlovian response to the new email notification.
The problem with multi-tasking is that every project gets an equal amount of neglect.
The best solution to time management and task management when working for yourself is to know what you need to do and to allow clear time to do it. It sounds simple, right?
But it is that simple. You can read any number of guru guides on time management and productivity, but ultimately they boil down to:
- Plan your to-do list (with actionable items, not vague topics – To-dos must start with a verb. David Allen’s advice still holds).
- Prioritise your to-do list (by importance, most massive task/smallest quick wins, due date, etc.)
- Calendar management: Block time out to accomplish your tasks. Schedule a block in your diary for uninterrupted work. Time is finite so use the incredible visual representation for time that has worked for hundreds of years. Use your calendar.
- Block out interruptions: Don’t be rude, be clear. Let people know you are unavailable because you are working, focussed on a project. Turn the phone on silent and close the email program, twitter, etc. Work full screen.
We will explore each of these further in additional articles, but remember, positive time and task management haven’t changed over all the years and all the thousands of articles out there. The process is simple, let’s not overcomplicate it.
If you’d like to see which time and task management tools are recommended by our team, visit our free Resources for remote workers page for more information.