The Difference Between Proactive Freelancers and Reactive Freelancers: It’s All About Time Management

Have you ever wondered about the difference between freelancers who lead their work and those who seem to be constantly dragged around by it?

It boils down to one crucial factor: time management. By definition, a freelancer is someone who works independently based on their skills and abilities.

Many choose freelancing for its freedom. However, poor time management can quickly turn that dream of freedom into a reality where work seems to always be dragging them around.

To become a successful freelancer, one who proactively drives their work, we have summarized four essential time management strategies straight from Elancer, North America’s premier and largest IT freelance platform!


Set a Plan

freelance timesheet

When you start your workday, what’s the first thing you do?

Do you jump straight into whatever task comes to mind with a “Let’s just get started!” approach?

If so, think again!

importance of planning

The famous quote by Abraham Lincoln comes to mind: “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four sharpening the axe.” This emphasizes the importance of planning before diving into any task.

At first glance, it might seem like there’s not enough time to plan, but that’s far from the truth. Pre-planning can save you more time in execution and increase your productivity. Let’s delve into some tips for setting up a daily plan.


01. Quick Guide to Daily Planning

Step 1: Create a TO-DO List

A TO-DO list is a written account of tasks you need to accomplish for the day. Write down everything that comes to mind.

If you’re someone who prefers the written method, consider using a freelancer‘s diary.

However, with the plethora of productivity apps available these days, you can easily utilize a TO-DO list app available on the market.

You can create your list at the beginning of the day or even the night before!

Step 2: Allocate Time

Allocate Time

Now, go through each item on your TO-DO list and estimate how long each task will take.

Without setting a time, even the smallest tasks can end up taking much longer than necessary. By allocating a specific timeframe, you can ward off distractions and remain focused on achieving your set goals.

Step 3: Always Keep Buffer Time

One critical thing to keep in mind when planning is not to over-schedule.

Despite allocating estimated times in step 2, tasks can sometimes take longer than expected or unforeseen circumstances can arise.

For such situations, it’s always wise to keep some buffer or emergency time!


02. Setting Priorities and Taking Action

In our fast-paced work culture, the ability to discern which tasks are of utmost importance is essential.

We might sometimes be tempted to tackle less critical tasks first because they seem easier or more convenient.

But starting with lower-priority tasks can result in missing the deadlines for crucial ones or lead to rushed errors.

Hence, always list out your priorities clearly and work through them methodically.


03. Boosting Concentration Using Apps

Boosting Concentration Using Apps

With the rise of the freelance community in North America, there has been an upsurge of apps designed to enhance work concentration.


Focus serves as a stopwatch app where you set your concentration period, helping you stay on track throughout.

One of its standout features is the statistics it offers, allowing users to monitor daily and weekly focus times.

This can be motivating, letting you compare and improve from one day or week to the next.

Especially when working remotely and lacking oversight from colleagues, this app can help mitigate distractions, like frequently checking your phone.


Toggl is both a stopwatch and logging app, letting you monitor how you spend your time during work. Once you’ve planned out your day and set your priorities, simply input what you’re working on and hit the start button.

After you’re done, hit the stop button. The app then compiles this data, giving you an overview of how you spent your time.


Originating from the Kanban system, which was utilized by Japanese automotive companies to align production schedules, Trello is a software that allows for comprehensive project visualization from start to finish.

Many IT organizations are now adopting Kanban boards for task management. And the good news? Trello is available as both a mobile and desktop application.

[Google Calendar]

Google is omnipresent in the business realm. One of its most valuable attributes is how its platforms seamlessly integrate. Were you aware that Google Calendar is available as a mobile app?

It offers features such as event creation and management, monthly calendar views, switching to daily agendas, setting reminders, silencing phones during events, and goal setting and tracking.

Tips for Increasing Concentration

Unlike machines, humans can’t stay focused indefinitely. Breaks are essential to rejuvenate and regain concentration.

According to neuroscientists, humans can sustain focus for about 60-90 minutes at a stretch.

Particularly, the brain is most active during the initial 10 minutes. Taking brief rests after about an hour can help restore focus and even spark brilliant ideas.

If you’re unsure about when to focus and when to take a break, consider the following scientific knowledge:

Distribute focus and break periods throughout the day based on the brain’s activity levels. (Note: Morning people can subtract 1-2 hours from the suggested times, while night owls can add 1-2 hours.)


04. The Importance of Ample Rest

Importance of Ample Rest

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be an efficient freelancer?

Many assume it’s all about cutting out distractions and honing in on a task until you achieve desired results. However, this isn’t the complete picture.

To truly excel as a freelancer, one must not forget the significance of sufficient rest.

Yes, focusing on your work is vital, but without appropriate breaks, you run the risk of burnout, which can lead to decreased productivity and inconsistency in delivering tasks.

It’s not uncommon for freelancers to take on numerous projects in the hopes of maximizing earnings, only to find themselves overwhelmed and unable to manage any of them effectively.

To avoid such pitfalls, ensure you factor in regular rest periods to maintain optimal working conditions.

Taking short breaks during work hours can reduce stress, alleviate feelings of depression, and enhance cognitive efficiency.

self employed time management

A study by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in the US revealed that adequate rest helps in regenerating neural pathways, thereby accelerating memory recall and enhancing work efficiency.

Remember, just like a battery needs regular charging to perform at its best, to be a top-performing freelancer, you need to ensure you get adequate rest.


Time-saving Tip Exclusive to Our Members: Expedite Your Project Acquisition with Elancer!

Are you spending countless hours or even days crafting resumes and project proposals? Do you join every freelance platform and haphazardly submit resumes?

try using Elancer's autoFOLIO

Stop right there!
Instead, try using Elancer’s autoFOLIO.

As the leading IT Freelance matching platform in Korea, Elancer’s ‘autoFOLIO’ can significantly reduce the time you spend on resume and project proposal crafting.


What is Elancer’s “autoFOLIO Service?”

Elancer’s in-house developed system uses advanced document conversion technology.

Upload any of the 15 supported resume file types, and the system will automatically categorize, convert, and upload it for you.

You can then easily download these files in a Word format, making it a breeze to send to potential clients.

Once you set up with a standard template, the system auto-updates, allowing easy modifications whenever you add a new project to your resume.

It’s a revolutionary tool that greatly reduces the time you spend on document preparation.

How to Create a Career Document using ‘autoFOLIO’

task on time

Want to save time acquiring projects? Looking to successfully secure those projects?

Register with Elancer and craft your ‘autoFOLIO‘! We’re here to help you find the perfect project match.

Leveraging 23 years of accumulated expertise and over 150 million service data points, Elancer is Asia and North America’s premier IT Freelancer matching platform.

We offer freelancers tools like ‘autoFOLIO’ and dedicated manager support through our ‘AllCare’ service, ensuring you get the best projects suited for your expertise.

Join the IT Freelancer platform Elancer!

Enjoy our premium services. Secure your next project with us!


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