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4+ Effective Time Management Systems to Help You Become More Productive

by Laura Spencer

on January 27, 2014

in Freelancing Basics Productivity

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Being organized is a crucial freelancing success skill.

As freelancers we have a lot to do. Not only do we have work to do for our clients, we also have administrative tasks to perform for our freelance businesses. When you add in personal chores and personal tasks, the to-do list can become quite large.

Quite frankly, time management is one area where most of us could stand to improve. That’s because using time effectively is a hard skill to master.

Of course, there are a lot of productivity apps out there, but without an underlying productivity strategy most apps will fail to help. That why I’ve listed four popular, but very different productivity strategies in this post. Examine each strategy carefully to find the right one for you.

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System #1: 18 Minutes

18 Minutes is based on the book, 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done from Peter Bregman. The book explains how to use 18 minutes a day to organize your time so that you can perform your tasks more effectively.

The author draws upon his years of experience as a business consultant and columnist for the Harvard Business Review. Even if you don’t own the book, you’ll find several helpful free downloads (as of the time of this post) on the 18 Minutes website.

If you’ve given up on other productivity systems because they seemed too complicated and hard to follow, this simple method may be the right one for you.

System #2: Action Method

The Action Method was an experimental service from Behance with the purpose of helping creative people become more productive.

The service itself has closed (although current members can still use it), however they have dedicated an entire section to sharing productivity tips they have learned on the blog 99U. Some recent posts include:

If you’re a creative freelancer who struggles to accomplish more, you’ll want to review these posts.

System #3: Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done is a productivity system developed by David Allen. It’s based on the very popular book, Getting Things Done. The book is a step-by-step guide for organizing your work and your life.

In addition to the book, the company site has a number of products and seminars. There’s also a series of free podcasts that many freelancers may find helpful.

My library does contain the Getting Things Done book, although I have to confess I only got through part of the system. However, I did find it to be well-thought out. If you are detail-oriented, this may be the methodology for you.

System #4: The Five Choices

The Five Choices is a productivity method developed by FranklinCovey. Basically, the system teaches you to organize your life by making five essential choices to determine what is important to you. However, the way to learn the system is through a seminar, which may put it out of the reach of many freelancers.

FranklinCovey is well-known for developing time management systems and products. While I’m not personally familiar with The Five Choices, years ago I had the good fortune to attend 7 Habits training based on their popular book from Stephen R. Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I will say that I found the course to be very helpful and some of the techniques I learned then are still part of my work habits.

System #5: Hybrid Method

You may be wondering which productivity method I use.

I have to confess that I’m a bit of a productivity junkie. I’m always trying to learn more about time management. I read everything I can about becoming more productive. I also regularly consider apps (particularly free or low cost ones) that may make time management easier.

To manage my own time I use the best ideas from what I’ve read and learned along with the best apps and other tools that I’ve found.

Your Turn

Not everyone manages their time the same way. Do you use a productivity methodology that works well for you? Is it one of the ones listed above, or do you use something else?

Share your answers in the comments.

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About Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer is a freelance writer from North Central Texas with over 20 years of professional business writing experience. If you liked this post, then you may also enjoy Lauraâ??s blog about her freelance writing experiences, WritingThoughts. Laura is also on Google+.