How to Manage Your Workload as a Freelance Developer - 5 Key Tips

How to Manage Your Workload as a Freelance Developer - 5 Key Tips


Learning how to manage your workload as a freelancer developer will save you enormous amounts of time, money and stress. Best of all, when you can properly manage your workload, you’ll gain back hours of free time to spend with family, friends and loved ones.

Just check out these 5 key tips to optimize your workload, and change your life. For more helpful IT career tips, news and job listings make sure you subscribe to Codeslaw, here.

1. Learn how to do deep work or short bursts of work

Deep work is the practice of immersing yourself in programming for hours at a time without breaking focus. Practicing deep work is also the secret of many of the world’s highest-performing people, including some programmers.

Ironically, most coders occasionally enter a state of deep work without even being conscious of what’s happening. You’ve probably heard this being referred to as “getting in the zone”. If you think that you can benefit from doing deep work, you should consider practicing it.

On the other hand, some people benefit most from doing short bursts of work, like utilizing the Pomodoro Technique. This simply means writing code in short 15 minute bursts, taking a small break, and then repeating the cycle over and over again. Either of these working styles can significantly improve your efficiency as a programmer.

2. Clearly define your work hours

While you may eventually reach a point in your freelance career where you can “work whenever you want”, for the early years, it helps to be disciplined about the hours that you work.

For example, if your working hours are from 9am to 5pm, then you might want to set those hours aside for client work only. Clients pay the bills in this business, and you’ll find it much easier to work when you don’t have Twitter, Reddit and Facebook open in separate browser tabs.

If you can organize your working hours on a micro level, that’s even better, but admittedly a little bit extreme for most developers. Just keep in mind that keeping separate windows of time available for coding, communicating with existing clients, and pitching new clients can make you a much more effective freelance developer.

3. Track how you spend your time online

This trick is really simple, and genuinely life-changing.

Start tracking how you actually spend your time online. You’re going to be really surprised, and probably even embarrassed by what you find. But that’s okay. Because, almost everyone wastes time on silly little things online.

Using a tool like RescueTime (freemium) or Toggl (paid) will break down exactly how you spend your time online, and show you where you can use the most improvement. As an added bonus, you can also use time tracking tools for billing your clients.

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4. Be conscious of your environment

Some programmers work amazingly well in isolation. Other coders need to be around productive human beings in order to accomplish their work.

So, by simply being conscious of your work environment, you will have a massive impact on the quality of your code, how much work you get done, and how much free time you get to keep for yourself.

Try working in a separate office within your home, a co-working space, cafe, public library, or even in a completely new city - if you’re trying to get out of a slump. Be conscious of your environment, and your entire work-life balance will improve.

5. Get organized

Programmers are natural multi-taskers. You probably like to write code, ping friends on Facebook Messenger, browse Stack Overflow, and maybe even juggle a few web development tools. And while there’s nothing wrong with a bit of multitasking, it’s easy to get disorganized when you’re trying to do too many things at once.

This is why it helps tremendously to use tools like Trello, Buffer, Google Tasks, and a number of other web-based organizational tools. Trello helps you collaborate. Buffer gives you access to all of your social media accounts on a single screen. Google Tasks helps you accomplish your work on a task-by-task basis.

And, with maybe the addition of Dropbox, plus any calendar app that you can use on your smartphone, you’ll have just about everything that you need to better manage your workload.

Learning how to take control of your workload is one of the most daunting yet empowering decisions that a freelance developer can make.

However, if you can simply...

  • Figure out how you work best
  • Clearly define your work hours
  • Track your time
  • Be conscious of your environment
  • Get organized

There’s a great chance that your freelance development business will come out ahead of the competition, and enable you to live very well for a lifetime.

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