When you’re self employed, strong time management skills are essential!
Technically, I am not self-employed. I am paid by a college to teach students to write. That being said, most of my work takes place outside of the classroom. I design lesson plans, create assignments and grade papers from the comfort of my home, on my own time.
For these reasons, I do consider myself to be largely self-employed.
This is the first time I have taught five classes at the college level, which means that this is the first time I have almost 90 students. Balancing this many students requires me to take a critical look at the way I spend my time. This critical look has led me to identify some serious self-employment time management “don’ts” that I have been committing, as well as some corresponding “dos” that I have been implementing to counteract my poor time management skills early on in the semester.
Don’t: Think you have “all weekend” to get something done, but then make lots of plans during the weekend and not get anything done.
I have only had a weekends-off schedule for two weeks, and I am already hooked. I can’t imagine working the weekends anymore. I know, I know — I get spoiled quickly.
Anyway, one of the biggest pitfalls to proper time management for the self-employed is assuming that you will do your work at a time that is usually reserved for something else. For me, the weekends are about my family. When my husband works on the weekends, I like to go to my parents’ house and play Mario Kart with my siblings. Mario Kart and grading are not activities that can take place simultaneously.
Do: Pick a time to work that will be reserved for work only.
This is hard when you are solely self-employed, as I realize that things crop up last minute! However, when you schedule a time to perform your work that is consistent every week, you can generally keep yourself afloat — if not ahead — of the heavy workload. This frees up some time to spend with family.
Don’t: Think large chunks of time are the best option for working.
Another problem with my “weekends are for grading” approach is that I end up cramming a lot of grading into a single day. This is not good for me, because I do not work well without distractions and breaks.
Do: Make the most of your free minutes.
If you’re like me, small chunks of work are more effective than setting aside a two-hour chunk of time dedicated to any one task. You might be surprised how much work you can get done in 10 minutes!
I think this one is obvious, but is certainly worth repeating. Do not put off any task that you can do right now. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
Do: Be proactive.
If you know that a task will be due in a few weeks, but you have time to work on it now, get on it! I intend to finish all the assignments my students will be writing through this semester by the beginning of October at the latest so that I can work on my own writing projects and have more free time to comment on the longer student papers they will be writing as the semester goes on.
Do you have any tips for time management for the self-employed?