Working Hours of a Freelancer/Contractor – Time Management (Guest Blog from Andrew Smith)

Time. So precious but there’s never enough of it. Well, apart from when we’re doing something that really, really drags like standing in a queue or waiting for the kettle to boil. And it’s always worth reminding ourselves of the irrefutable time facts – we ALL get the same amount of time per day: 24 hours or 1440 minutes or 86400 seconds. Days may seem slow or fast but they’re 100% the same. It’s what we do with that time that counts.

So what can we do to get as much as possible out of our working days without eating into our even more precious non-work time? I don’t claim to be The World’s No1 Expert but I do have a pretty heavy workload and have picked up a few tips along the way. Whether you’re a busy freelancer or busy contractor (or business owner or employee) I hope at least some of these are of help to you, either as new ideas or simply timely reminders.

Time Management Tips:

1. Email

Try to reply to and send emails in batches, perhaps at two or three points during the day. We can’t control when emails come in but we can control when they go out! Reading and/or responding to emails as they come in is a major time killer.

2. Shorter Phone Calls

A little personal chat at the start or end of a work call is a good thing – it keeps the relationship on a human level. But have you ever spent 10-15 minutes on a call that should take 3-5? It’s NOT rude to say ‘I don’t mean to be rude. However…..’

3. What’s Your Best Time?

When is your most productive time of the working day? Is it morning or evening? Whenever it is, focus your efforts then and you’ll get much more done. If you’re a lark, pre-9am is your key time. If you’re a night owl, it’s post-5pm.

4. Social Media

Is great fun! But we can get lost on Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook for hours if we’re not careful. If you get too many updates to your phone or inbox, it’s very, very easy to get distracted. Like email, social media time should be in two or three blocks during the day (ideally sometime between 8.30-9am and 5-6pm when the likes of Linkedin is at its most active). Social media doesn’t need to be time-consuming – 10 minutes each day can be hugely effective.

5. Delegation

Before you scream ‘But I work on my own!’, delegation isn’t just delegating to staff. It also includes outsourcing. If you’re spending 10 hours a month on something a supplier could take four hours to complete more effectively (such as your Accounts, of course!), it’s time to give them a call.

6. Meetings

Perhaps the biggest time killer of the whole lot! Meetings ARE absolutely necessary for us all but we should do two things every time. First of all, make an honest assessment – is this meeting really necessary? If conversations can be had by phone – including conference calls – or email, a huge amount of time can be saved over the course of a year.

And secondly, if a meeting is scheduled for one hour, do everything in your power to keep it that way. If you’re running the meeting, it’s YOUR responsibility. And if you’re an attendee with a contribution to make, try to get in early so that – when possible – you can excuse yourself when the hour is up.

7. Post-meeting/following-up

Try to be realistic about allocating time to follow-up after a meeting or event. Email is great for this as is social media. Ten years ago no-one connected on Linkedin after meeting for the first time. Now it’s commonplace and you have a method of quickly communicating with each other.

8. Home working

Can you work from home some of the time (perhaps you already do?)? Working from home takes out any commuting time and means that you can work longer hours to have a shorter overall day. It also means you don’t get dragged into other workplace conversations or meetings that you don’t really need to be involved in.

9. Set personal cut-off points

We (almost!) all work better when we have deadlines, so set yourself some deadlines of finishing by a certain time. Look at how productive we are in the run-in to a holiday. If we can do it then, we can do it again!

Good luck!


Andrew Smith runs Aberdeen’s online business community, the 2500+ member and is a former Aberdeen Business Networker of the Year. To contact Andrew, request to connect with him on ABN (he’ll accept!)

More Blogs

Challenges in Public Sector Finance: Income and Spending Gap

In December 2023, the Office for National Statistics announced that, in the first two thirds of the year, the deficit in public sector spending had reached £116bn. This figure was £27bn higher than the same period in the previous year. But why is the gap between income and spending in public sector finance widening? What are the implications? How can these challenges be addressed? Read on to find out…

Accounting Team

The Future of Management Accounting

Gone are the days when management accounting simply involved bookkeeping and cost accounting. The business environment has become increasingly complex, and accounting firms and processes must evolve to keep up. But what is the future of management accounting? Read on for our top accounting trends – including the role of technology in accounting.

Accounting Team

Understanding the Financials: Accounting for Amazon Sellers

It’s estimated that over 60% of sales on come from third-party sellers rather than directly from the e-commerce giant itself. With such a large captive audience here in the UK, it’s unsurprising that local sellers want a slice of this oversized pie. One thing to bear in mind is the specific set of financial challenges that come with a decision to sell via this platform. If you’re looking to understand more about the ins and outs of accounting for Amazon sellers, read on…

Accounting Team