Since freelancers run on their own schedule not only do they need to know how to budget their money but they also need to know how to spend their time wisely. (read Part 1 here)
How I Prioritize My Tasks: 2x2 (Impact Effort Matrix)
I prioritize my tasks by using a 2x2 Impact Effort Matrix. We use this method in our agency and with our clients and it helps prevent us from getting overwhelmed. We normally put all of our tasks and to-dos in a whiteboard (using something like Miro) and plot them along the matrix to see which ones have to be done. The ones that are prioritized bring good things later on whereas the ones that don’t deserve the mental effort do not. The point of the matrix is to see what solutions are worth the effort, easy solutions with high impact are the section of the matrix we tend to prioritize. With this method, we take into account motivation and mental effort as the part of the Effort qualifier in the matrix. Similarly, it’s just as important to prioritize your clients.
How I Prioritize My Clients: Timeboxing
To-do lists don’t work for many people. To-do lists lack the context to keep us motivated enough to get the task done and don’t feel urgent. That’s why timeboxing is a much better alternative. Timeboxing into a calendar helps you visualize when you need to get what done. For example, if you have artwork due on Thursday and it usually takes you 2 days to finish it, you can set a timebox on your calendar for Tuesday so you get that artwork done by Thursday. Not only will this method help you visualize when you need to do certain tasks it will also help you prioritize what you should be working on based on your deadlines. Putting important tasks on your calendar helps you stay on schedule and it helps your colleagues see when you’re busy or not and they will work around your schedule as well. Timeboxing also helps you see what you’ve accomplished each week. Maybe you had an extra stressful week, you can clearly see what you got done and when you did it. One of the greatest benefits of timeboxing is that you’ll feel more in control of what’s in your upcoming week because you’ll have already prepared for it.
How I Manage My Energy In Between Tasks: The Pomodoro Technique
If you can’t stand working for hours at a time and would rather work during small manageable amounts of time, then I would recommend using the Pomodoro Technique. It’s also a really good habit to build to avoid carpal tunnel and get in those wrist, finger, neck, and upper body stretches. In this technique, you would break your work into 25-minute blocks and after each block, you have a five-minute break. These intervals are called Pomodoros. After completing four Pomodoros you get a longer 15-30 minute break. Since these intervals are only 25 minutes, it creates a sense of urgency and you’ll leave your distracting habits like your frequent bathroom breaks and phone-checking for your five-minute break. It’s a bit tedious to constantly set timers on your phone so if you decide to use this method I recommend downloading a Pomodoro Timer app. Personally I prefer working in 45 minute intervals and taking 15 minute breaks. It forces me to step away from my work and see things I normally wouldn’t see if I was staring at my canvas the whole time.
As a freelancer, time and money are extremely valuable, and learning how to use both effectively will make all the difference.