5 smart ways freelancers can streamline their workdays
It takes discipline and effective time management to optimize success as a freelancer. Anything you can do to streamline your workdays increases your productivity, and ultimately, your income level.
The following are several specific tools and methods that can increase your workday efficiency as a freelancer.
1. Use an auto-booking program
If your work involves setting and keeping appointments with prospects and clients, the constant back-and-forth communication can get time-consuming and frustrating. Get rid of this inefficiency by implementing an auto-booking program.
There are some programs that offer free basic tools, but if you schedule a lot of appointments, consider a small investment in a pro version. Acuity Scheduling, which is iPhone compatible, is a great option for freelancers.
2. Use central organizers
Another way to concentrate your effort on top priorities is to streamline as many work processes and activities as possible. A number of organizational systems and applications are available to help you schedule your time, allocate resources and automate processes. The key is to pick one that allows you visibility of all projects in one place, so you don’t have to keep track of a number of different schedules or lists.
Evernote and Trello are popular organizational tools that you can use for your freelance business.
3. Block email time
Opening your e-mail to find new project requests or inquiries from clients can get addictive for freelancers. However, reading and responding to e-mails spontaneously is a common time-waster. Instead, set up an automated reply and let people know you will respond soon. Then, block out one or two time periods a day to respond to inquiries. This approach frees you up physically and mentally to complete tasks efficiently.
4. Automate financial tracking and reporting
Whether you like it or not, as a business operator, you must keep track of your revenue and expenses. Freelancers waste a lot of time each tax season trying to put together patchwork records on income and expenses. In addition to the inefficiency, you are likely to miss deduction opportunities.
A number of software programs exist that allow you to automate profit and loss tracking and reporting in conjunction with invoicing and payment systems. For less than $10 per month, you can also track your work time (beneficial for hourly billing) on projects through Paydirt. This software integrates with Trello and other programs, and accepts PayPal payments.
5. Implement a full CRM system
A customer relationship management system is an all-encompassing software program that allows you to retain profile data on prospects and clients, along with transactional histories. CRM gives you a better grasp on client relationships, and despite a higher initial investment, you can facilitate most critical marketing and communication activities directly from your solution, including:
- Contact management
- Automated welcome and follow-up e-mailing
- Contact and appointment scheduling
- Social media messaging
- E-mail marketing
- Direct mail campaigns
- Financial tracking
- Marketing analytics and reporting
Efficiency and productivity are keys to success for freelancers. There are already enough challenges with self-employment that you can’t afford to waste the time that you have to produce each day.
Utilize these strategies and tools to streamline your work day, and you will find that you can accomplish a lot of high-priority tasks consistently.