It goes without saying that society today has become busier. Whereas a hundred years ago, our time slots were divided into morning, noon and night, nowadays we define our work by hourly or even minute increments. Even in sporting events, performance is divided by nanoseconds.
As time becomes further and further segmented and our moments become ever shorter, we at some point must come to the realization that there is not enough time in the day to pack in all our work, freelancing and moonlighting activities. And, lest we forget, our hobbies and recreational time.
Or is there?
How to get more stuff done (without going nuts)
A new parent quickly learns that all time must be accounted for if work and other “normal” tasks are to get done even as the baby makes incredible demands on one’s time and energy. To this end, the parent uses every spare moment for useful labor; for example, to catch up on house bills while the baby sleeps.
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As you take up moonlighting or freelancing on the side, you will also discover how this seeming fledgling occupation quickly takes over your waking hours. If you are a full-time freelancer, you also know how client demands can whittle away at your free time until there are no weekends or vacation days to speak of.
To maintain some semblance of a personal life, you must get into the habit of accounting for both your work and other activities. And that involves scheduling.
When you start scheduling your time by its hours, days and weeks, you accomplish the following goals:
- Accounting. If you are required to report your work hours to clients, scheduling your time addresses that requirement. If you wish to learn how much time you wasted by watching TV or playing games on your smartphone, scheduling also answers that question. In short, scheduling removes any shred of doubt about where in fact you are spending your time, and on what.
- Efficiency. Once you know where your time is being spent, you can allot for your necessary and recreational activities much more effectively. If you need four hours to write a blog post, you can allot time for that event. If you need to unwind with a smartphone app or game, you can allot 30 minutes to that event too, after which you get back to work. By allotting your time in set increments, you have less inclination to procrastinate…or to dawdle.
- Cost-effectiveness. Scheduling your tasks has the added benefit of notifying you if a given work activity is even worth your time. Suppose you learn that a given client is paying you $100 to write a blog post, but that post requires 10 hours of time to research, write and edit. That means you are getting paid only $10/hour. Another potential client is offering you $75 per blog post, but that post requires only 3 hours of time to create. This realization makes your choice of client more obvious.
How do you schedule your time?
To enable you to better track and account for your hours, there are many free resources available. Here are just a handle of tools to help you out:
Asana– Known as a project management tool, Asana keeps your tasks organized by day/week/month and can be set up to notify you when you are approaching a deadline. It is also a great tool for work teams because you can parse out given tasks to others through this platform.
HourGuard Timesheet software– This automated timesheet creation software enables you to start timing your work tasks and have the software automatically catalog and create timesheets from it. You can also set HourGuard to generate automated invoices, saving you time on that task as well.
Mobile-Tracker-Free– If you are on-the-go, or if your major source of income is derived from sales or consulting calls, then the MTF will help you understand where the majority of your mobile efforts are going. With this free app, you can track and record your calls. You can also track your text messages and any other sent files.
TimeCamp– TimeCamp is a timetracking software and mobile phone app that allows you to not only see how much time you’re spending on tasks, but to even track your computer usage. This is useful if you are working remotely and your clients wish to know exactly which websites you are visiting, and which software platforms you are using, during your work hours.
Toggl– Much like TimeCamp, this time tracking and scheduling tool enables you to start a digital timer when you start a task. For a $5/month fee, you can also set it up to invoice your work time, and at different hourly rates, to your different clients.
Take control of your free time
The end goal of tracking your time is so that you take control of it and use it more productively. By doing so, you’ll waste less time on counterproductive and/or unprofitable tasks, and (hopefully) more time on useful and profitable ones. By organizing your activities, you’ll see where your efforts are best utilized.
Inevitably, you’ll also create more free time for fun stuff like vacations, family/friend outings, and just relaxing.