Let me guess: you started freelancing with the idea of being creative and working on your passion all the time.
And then you had the rude awakening we all do.
Few of us think about the business part of running a freelance business. We don’t dive in with the management plans, just creative talent and the desire to make awesome things. Our cubicle daydreams of something better contrast harshly with the reality of endless email, marketing, admin, and finance.
Probably not what you got into this for, right?
But there is a way out.
See, most of us start our business with little more than a ton of talent. But once you’ve learned some business savvy, you’ll be able to figure out how to adjust your workload and your day. And you can maximize your time doing the creative stuff and less time “taking care of business.”
So create more time in your work day with these six ways to do more in less time. We’ll talk about what they are, the differences between them, and which tasks and work they’re best suited for.
Let’s explore time.
Outsourcing to an expert
First we’ll start with the obvious. The easiest way to get something off your to-do list is to put it on someone else’s. So of course it’s really effective to outsource tasks to a virtual assistant, graphic designer, copywriter, etc.
But since outsourcing is also the most expensive option here, you really want to save it for tasks it’s best for – those where scheduling or automation just isn’t enough, for one reason or another. And low ROI tasks are good choices too – what’s low-value for you is high-value for someone else.
For example, as a writer it’s not directly profitable for me to spend a ton of time of graphic design. I can outsource it to someone better who makes money off it so I have more time to make money off writing and support another freelancer.
Examples: having blog post graphics made, working with a virtual assistant, hiring an editor to proofread your content before it goes live
Scheduling in advance
Scheduling tasks is when you put in the work at one point, and it technically gets “completed” at another. Think of writing a tweet tonight and it being delivered tomorrow morning. That’s scheduling.
When it comes to your freelance business, the best tasks to schedule are those that are really customized, occur frequently, and at inconvenient times. Like sending tweets – imagine if you sent them all manually and still stuck to your social media calendar.
Scheduling is even more effective when combined with batching tasks, which we’ll talk about in a second.
Examples: scheduling social media posts, scheduling client emails to be sent later, writing weekly newsletters in advance.
Batch tasks by taking the small, frequent tasks that eat away at your day and chunking them. Working on things bit by bit, several times per day, isn’t doing you any favors. It doesn’t let you get focused. Instead, knock things all out at once – it lets you really get into the groove.
Batch processing is best for your most frequent tasks. Switching back and forth between tasks hurts your productivity, so doing it all in one block helps you stay focused. It’s also great for things that just take a few minutes here and there – chunking them makes them of a small distraction or annoyance.
Examples: writing lots of social media posts at once, emptying your inbox in one sitting, or spending your whole afternoon writing or coding.
Think of templates as Mad Libs or fill-in-the-blanks. It’s a hybrid of automating and batching tasks. For things that can’t be totally “one and done” in terms of content, you can partially automate it.
You create parts of the finished product in advance, one time only. Then you customize other parts that need to be changed from one creation to the next. You can also add prompts – or in some software, automated info – into the “blanks” to remind yourself or your VA what information needs to go there.
Examples: social media posts you re-use but tweak, graphic or presentation templates, email canned responses/quick parts/templates.
Ah, automating. The fairest of them all. Where the past four options have talked about taking less time to do tasks, this one talks about getting rid of it completely – without hiring someone. I mean, in 2016 there are just some tasks a human doesn’t need to do. Save your VA hours for more important things.
Instead of shaving off time bit by bit each time you perform a task, you do a little more work up front. Then it’s pretty “set it and forget it.” Apps, scripts, integrations, and more do the work for you.
Examples: blog post shares, email workflows and automations, recurring to-dos in your task manager and appointments on your calendar
Want more than 24 hours in a day?
You can do it. It’s all about learning to spend less time on the same tasks. Little by little, creating different combinations of the methods above, you can extend your workday without, well, extending your workday.