Time is an interesting resource. There’s a fixed amount of it in a day, and we can’t buy more of it. We can’t slow it down. We can’t rewind time a little to give us more of it.
Ever since I’ve started working as a freelance developer I’ve found that time management is absolutely crucial to me being able to do a good job.
My weeks typically are a mix of working for various clients, doing work for myself (blogging, exploring SwiftUI, preparing talks and workshops), and doing the boring but important administrative tasks that come with a business.
For me, the best way to manage my time is to make sure I’m busy and know what to do. If I’m not busy enough, or run out of tasks to do for a day it’s easy to get distracted and start slacking off. Usually that’s no big deal, but sometimes it’s just a result of poor planning and I should really be doing something else.
To get around this I have given myself an important rule.
Every working day must start and end in Notion
Notion is where I keep a ton of my notes, and it’s where I do a lot of my work. It’s also where I plan my weeks and days. I make use of a Notion database that’s visualized as a board to make it easy to glance at my planner page and know exactly what I need to do for the day. At the end of every day I will plan and refine the tickets I have for the next day. This involves checking my email and calendar to make sure I don’t forget or miss anything important.
Doing this helps me focus, and makes sure I keep my mind in the right space without getting lost in distractions, or focussing on a single task or client for way too long when there’s something else I should be doing.
It definitely took me a while to find a good way to manage myself without feeling too restricted or formal and it’s funny how my current setup is actually very tight and formal since every day now starts and ends with me planning my work. When I was still working for Disney Streaming, a lot of this was done for me. We’d plan sprints, and I knew that every day I would look at the Jira board, pick up my tasks, and I’d complete them all at the end of the sprint.
Being a freelancer comes with a lot more freedom, which I love. But I’ve also learned that it’s important to realize that I’m now in charge of your own planning way more than I ever was. Which is great, but also important to get right.
Now that I’ve explained a bit about how I plan my weeks, I wonder… how do you plan your weeks? Do you have a similar system? Do you do something completely different? I’d love to hear a bit about how you do planning for yourself regardless of whether you’re freelance, an employee, or still focussed on becoming a developer!
ps. Did you see my website now has darkmode?