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How To Effectively Manage Your Time As A Creative Freelancer

Posted on in Articles · Creative Advice

Working as a freelancer gives us the advantage of earning our own money in the most liberated manner in this modern society. We have the power to work whenever and whoever we want.

More often than not, when we begin our work we’d realize that we have a platter of tasks and responsibilities dumped onto our heads every day.

Lack of fixed schedules and poor time management may lead us into a pressure-cooker especially when datelines are around the corner.

In this article, I’ll share with you some methods I picked-up working as a freelancer designer myself on how we can effectively manage our time, stay productive and ensure that we’re doing the right activities at the right time.


List Out Your Daily Objectives

Usually at the beginning of a work day, the first thing we would do is turn on our computers/laptops, check our emails and replying them, and do some Internet surfing before we even start working on our most important project.

It is a good practice to keep a small piece of paper or Stick-It notes near your desk and write out tasks that you wish to accomplish for the day. The act of stepping away from the computer for a short while to write out your goals would actually help to clear your mind about what is needed to be done for the day.

However, if you have a better way to do task organization, then by all means go with your preferred method. Listing out your set of tasks and putting your priorities in order will motivate you to complete them and helps keep you on track with your freelancing goals.

Manage Distractions

Throughout the day it’s easy to break for some entertaintment on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Often it’s recommended to get away from your monitor every few hours to rest your eyes and brain from the tasks at hand.

Though it’s also important to understand the difference between resting and slacking off. Being your own boss, you are ultimately the only judge upon your daily work.

Take frequent, short rests when you need them to restore energy, clarity and enthusiasm. Don’t wait until you are exhausted to take the much needed break. Otherwise, you may end up facing a heavier workload or lose money, neither of which is a good scenario.

Try out the following web-blocking apps:

Keep The Motivation Flowing

This is a good reason to keep your daily tasks list small. If you’re looking at 3 major projects listed in detail you’ll be inclined to procrastinate and delay such huge projects for a long time. If you’re stuck in this rut try breaking down larger tasks into smaller goals.

It’s always good to hold a “bigger picture” in your head but it doesn’t benefit the day-to-day work mindset to be so focused on larger things.

Understand that each tasks accomplished on every work day is a step towards achieving much greater goal. The easiest way to keep motivation at it’s peak is to focus on your current conditions.


Set Realistic Timeframes

Unrealistic goals kill off many projects. This is another scenario where as a freelancer you won’t have anybody from above setting your goals here. Only you can understand how long a project will take. Therefore, you have to set a realistic timeframe for a project to be completed.

Never plan for projects too soon to impress clients. This will generally backfire unless you know for certain you can complete their tasks within a shorter set of time. Plan ahead to provide space between due dates. You’ll feel a lot more relaxed when approaching a task and will find focusing much easier.


Have a Balance of Short and Long Term Goals

As freelancers, we also need to have a list of some larger goals we’d like to achieve. Whether it’s launching a new app or website, or getting a bigger office, long-term goals will keep you feeling hopeful and, more importantly, deeply motivated to follow your passion and achieve success.

Keep a balance of short and long term goals and abide by it. In this way, you will not get lost in unrealistic dreams but to really focus on what you wish to accomplish.

Long term goals tend to change as time passes, so it is better to have a general idea of what you’re trying to accomplish while attending to current matters in the present.



Professional freelancing can be extremely rewarding if you enjoy working for yourself and building unique products and/or services.

The methods mentioned in this article have served me well over the years as I put it to practice. They have proven to be one of the most powerful time management tips I’ve learned.

Do you have other time management methods or ideas to share? Feel free to share them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!



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Currently based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Hazel Lee is a designer, digital marketer and founder of YDJ. This blog was launched in June 2015 with the intention to inspire and support the careers of artists and designers.

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