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As a freelancer, you get to work on your own terms—no more clocking in and out five days a week. While one of the major perks of freelancing is the ability to set your own schedule, this makes your time precious.

Some days it feels as if adding more items to your to-do list is, in fact, an item on your to-do list. Just as you wrap up one project or administrative task, two more appear. How can you make sure you actually have time for working, billing, communicating and your life outside of work?

There are enough hours in the day. Here are five tips for boosting freelance productivity so you can take advantage of each one.

Stick to a Schedule

Even if you have a bit of an independent streak, it’s still important to structure your days. Otherwise, your freelance career will quickly fall victim to chaos. You’re the boss now, so it’s up to you to set a workable schedule and stick to it. You may choose to echo a 9-to-5 engagement (but without the lengthy commute). You might prefer to pick up projects after dinner and work into the evening. Whatever you choose, make sure you have set aside regular time for each of your core business functions.

Figure Out Peak Productivity

You may have heard someone proclaim, “I’m such a morning person!” Hopefully, it wasn’t before you had your first cup of coffee. Conversely, you may know classic “night owls” who thrive on burning the midnight oil and living a somewhat nocturnal existence. Everyone peaks in productivity at difference times of day. It’s up to you to figure out your peak hours for getting work done.

Start by keeping track of your mood and output across the span on several days. Then look for patterns. If you slump every day at 2 p.m., that may be the best time for a brisk walk or nap. If you find your mind is clear and your output is high during a certain set of hours each day, make it your primary time to “grind.”

Streamline Invoicing

Back when you started, you had a client or two to track. As time goes on, engagements tend to get more complicated, so you’ll need a foolproof way to make sure you get paid on time. Sticky-note reminders stuck around the edge of your computer monitor won’t cut it for long.

Online invoicing software streamlines the entire billing process, ultimately saving you time and effort. For example, establishing your template once means saving time on future invoices—all you’ll have to do is plug in the client information and amount due. You’ll also be able to keep track of outstanding and received payments, which means no more searching through your email history to determine where a client stands.

Block Social Media, Boost Concentration

Unless part of your workload includes freelance social media posting, you have little reason to scroll through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms on repeat. Watching a single video can send you down a rabbit hole of internet procrastination. Everyone likes to tell themselves they’re impervious to the addictive nature of social media, but it’s hard to resist.

When it’s time to get down to business, you may want to utilize concentration apps to lessen distractions. For example, Anti-Social blocks social media sites for short periods (like 15 minutes) all the way up to eight-hour intervals.

Organize Your Passwords

Keeping your passwords organized is good for cybersecurity and building client trust; it’s also a surefire way to save yourself a few minutes per day guessing various combinations attempting to gain access to your own accounts. You may decide to use an electronic password manager, or you may simply handwrite your passwords and stick them somewhere safe.

With these five tips for boosting freelance productivity, you’re ready to make the most of every hour in the day. After all, it’s not about working harder… it’s about working smarter.

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