TIPS FOR BUILDING EFFECTIVE ROUTINES

  1. Group like tasks
    Don’t stop working to answer each email as it arrives. Instead pick two — and only two — times a day to deal with emails. Schedule all of your meetings together during one part of the day, and don’t stray from this time block. If the block is full on any given day, then schedule the meeting for the following day.
  2. Keep the e-mail inbox clean.
    When a bunch of new e-mails arrives, sort and prioritize them right away. You could have three folders — one for important e-mails (“Important”), one that require some work (“Work”) and one for e-mails that aren’t that important and can be replied later on (“Later”). Try hard to keep the first two clean in the end of every day, and set up reminders or to-do-lists for important tasks. If you get way too many e-mails, you could set up a little system that would delete all unreplied e-mails that are older than 10–14 days and send a notification to those who sent these e-mails, so they know that their e-mail wasn’t read. If the e-mail was important, they will follow up eventually.
  3. Standardize your working hours
    Freelancing web designers are blessed with abundant freedom in the hours they work. But this can be a blessing and a curse. If you work a few hours here and there during the day, you force your brain to switch on and off multiple times a day. Try to work roughly the same schedule each day and all in one block. This creates a clear divide in your head between work and free time, and the divide will help you stay efficient and organized.
  4. Schedule time for administrative tasks
    You’re a designer foremost; but if you’re a freelancer, you are also the office manager. Don’t let those administrative tasks pile up. Schedule time each day or week to take care of bills, filing or cleaning.
  5. Time to think
    Similar to the last point, you are also the CEO, and as such you need to think about the overall goals and strategy of your one-person organization. Make sure to leave time (at least some each month) to analyze how business is going and how you are progressing towards your goals.

Important to remember: routines are not (and should not feel) inflexible. You are always free to change the way you do things. Sometimes you may need to put out fires, and sometimes you just need a change. Listen to your instincts.