Business Development

Six things I learned about time management while working as a mobile freelancer

Hannah Wilkinson | 26 May 2016 | 8 years ago

time management
Delays have bigger financial implications when you work for yourself and time literally is money
As an increasing number of freelancers travel to customers? homes and offices, learning how to maintain your personal brand when working across multiple locations is fast-becoming an invaluable skill for the self-employed.

Jumping on the train at London’s Victoria station as the doors slid shut, I checked the time on my rapidly expiring mobile phone as I tried to get my breath back, and stared in disbelief that I only had ten minutes to get to my next appointment in an outer suburb of London. Then came an announcement which made a day in 2015 one of the most embarrassing in my professional life: This train will be calling at Gatwick Airport only.

The industry I was working in at the time one-to-one tuition is particularly difficult to schedule work in due to the constraint that customers are in school during normal working hours. But with the increasing number of freelancers from beauty therapists to cleaners getting work through apps which allow clients to order services at home, managing work across multiple locations is fast-becoming a struggle common to many freelancers. Here’s how to cope.

  1. Remember there’s a reason you’re paid such a high hourly rate
There are a number of different factors which cause freelance work to be paid at as many four or five times the hourly rate those employed in full-time positions can attract. Compensating for client cancellations or quiet months are part of the explanation, but the shift of risk onto the contractor is another. Signal failures, tube strikes, weather warnings or even just traffic lights that seem to have it in for you have bigger financial implications when you work for yourself, and time literally is money.

  1. but that won’tmake it any better when you’re stuck in traffic and late for an appointment
Watching a cab meter tick upwards while you get later and later for an appointment is a frustrating experience, and even if you are seeing healthy average revenues, no one likes to watch money drain away. So make sure you have contact details on you for the person you’re supposed to be meeting, and a book to read or stress ball to squeeze as an alternative to simply getting more and more angry about something outside your control.

  1. it’s always better to be early
When a tutoring agency I registered with advised me to arrive half an hour early for a lesson and get a coffee nearby, I quickly dismissed it as excessive. But if your appointments are spread out enough to allow you to do this, the buffer it creates will mean you should hardly ever be late apart from in a real emergency and ensure you’re relaxed when introducing yourself to a client.

  1. Sometimes you have to say no?
Even with the best of intentions, the lure of an extra hour’s pay can make it extremely easy to try and reshuffle a well-planned schedule to fit in a last minute request. But even if you have engagements on the same street, giving yourself less than fifteen minutes? leeway for client delays, questions or small talk is a bad idea as hard as it is to turn down work, being greedy won’t pay in the long run.

  1. even if you think Google Maps is wrong
One key thing that all chronically late people have in common is their optimism and that isnt a good thing. Whether you’re convinced that a journey which took an hour last week will take forty minutes today, or that you walk a lot quicker than the average map user, wishful thinking is costly when you’re rushing to get to an appointment which only lasts a short period of time.

  1. Portable chargers can save a one-person business
If all else fails and you do end up running late, there is nothing worse than not being able to let a customer know that you’re not going to be there. Though a sincere apology isnt guaranteed to save your reputation, simply turning up fifteen minutes late without warning is almost certain to scupper it.

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