Something we know a lot of contractors struggle with is balancing their time. As a contractor, it is vital that you utilise your time as effectively as possible. Wasted time in the contracting world is basically the same as wasting money. Therefore, it is essential to master this skill to maximise your potential as a contractor. Not only that, but managing a project within the set time frames helps establish credibility, allows you to stay on budget, and will eventually lead to other projects and future clients.
Here are our top tips to keep you on track:
1. Set your Routine!
Without a set routine, time management can be challenging as a contractor. There is no one there to ensure you’re working effectively and efficiently. So, making a detailed schedule can help to keep you on task.
It can help you see clearly which tasks need to be prioritised and which will take up most of your time. For a fully utilised schedule, you should include all relative details such as time allocation and complexity of the task. Try to keep a daily schedule to stay ahead and know what work needs to be done and when.
2. Stay Organised
Being organised will save you time looking for things and allow you more time to work on more valuable tasks. When task after task start piling up, it isn’t hard to forget one small yet essential step. Don’t miss an important deadline on a project because you got sidetracked when another urgent item came up. Why not try giving yourself mini-deadlines? To help keep on top of your work while also impressing clients, try to set a deadline for yourself a few days before it is due.
Organisation and punctuality go hand-in-hand. Why not consider setting calendar alerts, for example, to ensure you do not get too caught up in a task and lose track of time?
3. Reduce Distractions and Disruptions
When working on a project, we can easily get sidetracked by unnecessary phone calls or interruptions which can cause delays. Try to keep interruptions to a minimum to maximize time. Why not try allocating an hour a day to being “unplugged”? Use this time to focus solely on getting work or even a single task done. Try not to check your phone log and answer emails, or choose only to reply to urgent queries.
4. Take Time to Recharge
We can all get bogged down with a project. Sometimes taking short breaks will allow you to revisit a task with a fresh set of eyes, helping you spot any flaws or mistakes you may have made along the way. Although it is good to keep moving through tasks and ticking them off your to-do list, it's fundamental that you know when to take a step back to produce the highest quality work.
5. Work in Chunks of Time
Trying to do too much at one time welcomes mistakes. Try to work your way through your schedule by completing set tasks one by one. Taking on too much at the same time will cause delays and increases the likelihood of getting flustered and overwhelmed. Studies show that setting blocks of time to achieve a certain outcome can not only increase focus, but also your output levels!
6. Set Realistic Goals
Working as an independent professional often means being a jack of all trades, you may find yourself with a long to-do list day to day. It can be tempting to make it your daily goal to tackle the entire list, but it’s more important to be realistic with your daily goals. Try not to set expectations for yourself — or make commitments to clients — if you aren’t sure you can meet them. The last thing you want to do is rush through a job and be left with a disappointed client.
7. Set Boundaries
Don’t be afraid to set boundaries with your work. Without a strict work schedule, your personal and professional time can often blend together. Therefore, strong time management skills are essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Without them, you can start feeling unmotivated, unproductive, or in the worst case burning out entirely.
Establishing efficient time management is an essential skill as a contractor. It will help to create smooth processes, develop your reputation for your existing and future clients and, last but not least, get the job done on time, every time!
If you are an Independent Professional Contractor and you feel like there are other tips and hints we can include on the above, please get in touch with our team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01-8077106.