How To Spend Less Time On Administrative Tasks As A Freelancer
As a freelancer, you're sure to have a busy schedule. You're probably dealing with the day to day work of putting out fires and helping your clients. The last thing you'd like to do is to spend an entire day working on administrative tasks.
You like the creative process behind your job. So how can you increase your time for creativity and decrease the administrative role you play in your business?
Find flaws in your current procedures
How do you spend your workday? How many times do you open your inbox or your social media accounts?
If you're constantly switching between your inbox, your accounting app and your project management tool, you're wasting several minutes with your multitasking habit.
At first this isn't a big deal. Now pretend you waste just a few minutes doing this. How many times a day do you check your accounts and write emails? Five? Six? That's about 30 minutes wasted in one day.
Imagine you repeat this process when you enter your invoicing software or your project management app website. We could be talking about more than a few hours in a week.
On top of that, have you tried writing every single email from scratch? Responding to every inquiry like it's the first time you've read the question (no matter how many times you have received similar emails).
This type of inefficiency can slow you down. Spend some time thinking about your potential flaws and find a way to fix them.
Create new procedures
How can you save some time? Well, for instance you could try accessing these accounts once or twice a day. This way you decrease the time spent focusing on each task.
It also helps to set up tools to automate your procedures. You may want to use apps to schedule updates to your social media accounts or have templates saved in your inbox.
You could write a template for prospective client inquiries, guest post pitches, proposals or follow ups. You would only need to customize them for each particular case.
What are you doing today that could be improved?
Write your to-do list
Knowing exactly what you have to do will help you to build momentum. Start a to-do list and assign a due date to every task. This could help you to classify pending tasks and work on similar assignments at the same time.
Try to keep it short and don't wait until the last minute to work on them.
Have everything you need at hand
If you were trying to fill out your taxes, you'd need your expenses, your income report and the form available on your desk.
If you start walking around to find your expenses folder or you don't know where your income report is, you're going to waste more time doing something you may not already like.
Take a minute before you start work on a particular task to ensure you have everything necessary to complete it without distractions.
Work in blocks
Imagine you receive your hosting invoice and you think you should probably get that done sooner rather than later. So you print your invoice (or you save it in a folder on your computer), go to your accounting app and register the expense. There's no harm in that.
However, you could move the email to an expenses folder and wait until you have a few more bills to register. That way you won't have to go through the same process three separate times.
Eliminate unnecessary tasks
Is it really necessary that you create a new bill on your accounting app every time you enter your monthly cellphone bill? Or could you just copy your last phone bill and change the date and invoice number? Taking savvy steps will reduce the time you need to finish your tasks.
Do you write emails from scratch when you could have templates saved on your computer which you could modify for each recipient? Little details save more time on the long run than bigger and complex changes.
Invest in useful apps
Sometimes you need to spend money to make money. It doesn't have to be a million dollar app. There are some great apps you could use without breaking the bank.
Some of these apps require an annual fee or offer a pay per month plans. They eliminate the effort in creating spreadsheets or documents and it makes you look like a true professional.
Use apps for email marketing, project management, invoicing and tracking time, customer relationship management and other tasks. There are many alternatives available online and one may be for you.
Hire a virtual assistant and/or an accountant
When you're working with a few clients it's easy to send every invoice and register every transaction yourself. However, if you want to build a profitable business while enjoying a great lifestyle there will come a point when you won't be able to handle everything yourself.
That's when a reliable virtual assistant makes good business sense. A virtual assistant can handle your email enquiries, client research, invoicing and expense registration.
The same applies for hiring an accountant. Saving a few bucks by doing your own books can cost you hundreds of dollars down the track. An experienced accountant can help you save money when you pay your taxes, and give you valuable advice on what you can do to improve your finances.
Before spending money, do the math
If you could save 30 minutes every day with an app that costs you $30 per month, is it worth it? Do the math:
Your hourly rate: $30/hr
Workdays per month: 20
App cost per month: $30
$30 hourly rate x 0.5 (half an hour saved)
x 20 (workdays a month)
In this case a $30 Application could save you $270 every month!
Do the exercise yourself:
What is your hourly rate? How much time could you save if you start using an app? (Invoicing, scheduling social media updates, project management app, email updates) What is the app's price?
This also applies for virtual assistants.
Your hourly rate: $30/hr
VA's hourly rate: $10/hr
Assume you outsource 4 hours every week:
4 hours x 4 weeks= 16 hours
$30 (Your rate) - $10 (VA's rate) = $20 x 16 hours = You save $320
It might take you a few minutes or hours to implement these changes to your business. On the long run, you'll be saving a lot more than that so it's worth taking the time to make a few improvements.
What are you currently struggling with? What are your plans to fix it? Share your thoughts below!