“Freelance Entrepreneur” might sound like an oxymoron, but freelancing is entrepreneurship at its most basic. Entrepreneurship means taking risks with your income, your career, your security in the service of innovation.

As a freelancer your capital isn’t money, it’s time.

As a Freelance Entrepreneur, you offer your capital to others to help complete their projects. How you spend that capital is up to you. You choose what projects you want to work on, you choose with whom you work, and you choose when you want to do the work.

If you think of your time as capital, you can also think if it as an investment. Then it becomes very clear that your time needs to be managed well in order to make it grow. We would all like the time we have with our families or the time we spend pursuing our passions to be greater. The more successful our investments, the more rewards we will reap.

Here are some tips for managing your capital:

  1. Start with a plan. Whether you plan a week in advance, the night before for the next day, or in the morning before you jump into the day’s work – plan your time. Although you need to be flexible—you never know when a client will call with an emergency—try to stick to the plan.
  2. Set goals for the day. You will never feel like you accomplished anything if you don’t know what it was you set out to accomplish.
  3. Set an ending time for work. You will be more productive if you know when you’re going to step away from the computer. Without an end time, there is a greater temptation to continue working on things you don’t need to and, therefore, never accomplish what you set out to do.
  4. Take scheduled breaks. Walk away. Stretch. Look at something other than the screen. Go outside. When you plan out the day, plan your breaks too.
  5. Track your time. This is easy to overlook. If you set a specific amount of time to work on something – make sure you keep to that schedule. If you need more time – and have to push something else back – make up for it tomorrow. By knowing how much time you work on projects – you can also better manage your time on future projects that are similar in nature.

I’m not always good at following my own guidelines, but I’m resolved to try. When I plan my day and know that I spent enough time on each project, I don’t feel guilty when break time comes and I get to spend a relaxing evening with my family. And isn’t that the real reason we’re freelancers?

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative