When you’re a freelancer, you usually don’t have to answer to one single person or one single institution, and you don’t have a boss (technically speaking). On the other hand, you have many clients (or many bosses), and this often poses a problem. The great thing about being a freelancer is that you are allowed to work as you please, but this doesn’t mean your time doesn’t have to be managed.

In fact, freelancers are often caught working more than those with traditional jobs, simply because the job is the focus (rather than the hours spent producing the work). Luckily, there are ways to manage your time better. Here are the top tried and tested ways you can make the most of your time as a freelancer.

Reduce your input

Multitasking is very hard – few of us seem to be able to do it, but most of us can’t, and trying to do so only results in a reduced quality of work – and more stress. Often, the amount of information we take in – from simple searches to conference calls – has a negative effect. Set time aside for uninterrupted work; when you decide to work, do only that.

Turn off social media

It’s hard to imagine your life without Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and other social media – but often they are merely distractions. Whilst working, turn those applications and social media platforms off, and get updated only when you feel you have accomplished enough for the day. On a side note, you should still remember to take advantage of technology in the form of time tracking software so you can keep a record of your hours – and invoice accordingly.

Divide and conquer

Often a large task appears too hard or difficult to tackle, but if you divide it into smaller chunks, you’ll find it is quite manageable. Work in short bursts and take a deserved break now and again. Whilst working, focus on work – whilst taking a short break, don’t think about your tasks. Enjoy your tea and the view out of the window. Dividing your work into shorter tasks allows you to reward yourself and reduce stress.

It’s a job

Take it seriously, and be disciplined about it.

Say no

It’s often difficult to refuse an employer, but if you can’t handle the project in time, say so honestly.

Your freelancing job should be treated with the proper respect it deserves: it’s a job, and it requires discipline to get it all done. By treating it the way you would any other job, it becomes a lot easier to handle, and you’ll automatically become more productive. And that’s when the true freedom of freelancing starts to show: when you see yourself getting more efficient, you’ll never want to go back to a regular 9 to 5 job again.