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Ask HN: How do you organize your time as a Freelancer/Contractor/Consultant?
10 points by jpdevereaux 1680 days ago | hide | past | web | 7 comments | favorite
Hey everyone,

I've been a freelance/contract web developer for the past few years. Technically, I'm very competent, but organizationally I'm a disaster. I'll go for days putting one project off for another, realize another has a looming deadline, drop the others, and repeat - a self-perpetuating cycle of anxiety most of the time. I have a feeling I could be happier and more efficient with a better time management strategy. Do you have any suggestions?

You need two basic things.

One is at least a basic way to organize your projects and tasks, ideally in such a way that you "capture" everything that needs to be done, and also can "focus" on the few things you're prioritizing or likely to get to first. I currently use asana for this, but no amount of reading blogs and trying different apps is going to solve for the problem that you need to pick a system and just be disciplined about using it.

The second thing you need to do is apply yourself to your tasks in disciplined ways. It means finding blocks of time where you are un-distracted & in an environment that doesn't distract you, and forcing yourself to avoid obsessively checking email, facebook, twitter, and what have you. Try Rescue Time (and in particular their Get Focused feature) if you have a problem with this.

Do you work from home? If so, seriously consider working somewhere else. Whether its your local college library, a coffee shop, a co-working facility, or a desk rented out of someone else's office.

I have a very nice home office setup, and I'm often able to be very productive there, but I'm far more consistently productive when I'm working in a public office environment.

As a contractor /freelancer i prefer to work trough agencies, ok , they take a margin, but they give you the reach and leverage to find well payed projects.In general these projects are invoiced time & material , not fixed price , it allows to put more of the development risk at the side of the customer

I've been hesitant about contacting agencies because of said margins, but if the projects are that much better perhaps it is worthwhile.

Get in with the agencies but still do your own stuff. You need to network to get work and they do the vetting of your quality of work and administrate it. It's annoying they take margins but just keep making yourself valuable and you can pass up work when you want.

How would one begin a relationship with an agency? Is it possible to do on a less than full time basis?

Look for bigger projects, and do just one at a time?

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