Do you feel like you’re ALWAYS working? Is time management your nemesis?
If your client projects often seem to take longer than you think and time feels like it just slips away every day, we have some tried-and-true time management tips for you.
Do you wish you could carve out time to work on projects related to growing your business like creating content and perhaps a digital product to offset your client income? But do you feel like every second goes to client work?
You need a better system to feel in control of your schedule and we’ve got you covered!
(Ps. You can watch this post in video form here:)
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Time Management Tip #1:
Your first time management tip is to set micro-deadlines
What the heck are micro-deadlines and how do they differ from normal deadlines?
Chances are if you work with clients you’re no stranger to deadlines. Your clients know when to expect the final deliverables to complete the project. But the problem with setting ONE fixed deadline at the end of a project is a little thing called Parkinson’s law.
Parkinson’s Law says that: “work will expand to fill the time available for its completion.”
This means if you only set one deadline at the end of four weeks, for example, you’ll fill that entire four weeks with the work for that project, probably not very efficiently.
It’s like defining one big bucket for the project and your time will expand to fill the bucket. Instead, try setting a final deadline AS WELL AS micro-deadlines throughout various stages of the process.
By defining these smaller “buckets” based on the specific tasks in each phase of your project, you can better keep your work contained to those individual buckets, making you more efficient overall and only spending the time necessary to complete each task.
Time Management Tip #2:
It’s time you utilized time-blocking on your calendar
This was by far the biggest game-changer for both of us, and it’s incredibly simple.
What exactly is time-blocking?
Think of every hour on your calendar as one “block.”
Realistically define how many “blocks” you have available for deep client work each week (by deep client work we just mean the actually doing of the creative thing, not answering emails or hanging on social media).
Then, schedule your clients by blocking off these hours on your calendar each week.
Not only will time-blocking help you with your client flow, but you’ll have a clear sense of what you should be working on each hour and that will help you avoid that feeling of time slipping through the cracks.
Time-blocking is also a great way to block off the things you want to make more time for aside from work like family, new creative projects, fitness or say building a new digital product.
Time Management Tip #3:
Make sure you estimate your client projects accurately
Sounds like a no-brainer, right?
With every client proposal you send out, make sure you’re estimating exactly how many hours you’ll spend on it and doing what tasks.
Then… and this is the key… as you complete the actual project, make sure you’re using a time-tracking tool like Toggl to track your time and match each part of the process up to your estimate.
Remember that you’re being paid based on this time estimate, and every hour you go over, the value of your time plummets.
The closer you stick to your estimate, the more efficient your projects will be.
How To Manage Your Time Better
Let’s recap the time management tips for client-based business owners
#1 Set micro-deadlines for every stage of a client project
One big deadline for a client project is good in theory but not great in practice. Sure, you can still use a project completion deadline, but you should also create micro-deadlines along the way (we recommend weekly milestones for micro-deadlines).
#2 Utilize time-blocking on your calendar
Look at your calendar as a group of available blocks. Instead of just saying you’re going to get XYZ part of a client project accomplished in a day, break bigger tasks into 30-60 minute blocks and put them directly on your calendar.
#3 Correctly estimate the time allocated for every project
Incorrectly estimating the time it takes to complete a client project is the fastest way to run a business that isn’t profitable. Your time IS money and you need to estimate it and track it properly. Use a time-tracking product like Toggl and you’ll start to figure out exactly how long your work ACTUALLY takes and you’ll get better at estimating client projects.
Time management may seem boring and rigid, but coming up with a system that works and sticking to it is WAY better than being exhausted all the time.
Working nights and weekends, and not getting paid what you’re worth is not a healthy way to live or run your business. When you have a client-based business, your TIME is your money-making asset so it’s important to use it wisely.
Just implementing a few of these changes could drastically improve your well-being AND your bottom line.