Scheduling your life as a Freelancer
Working for yourself means you can control your availability and also your income.
I have always known freelancing is all about flexibility. I’ve always wanted to get work done in a timely fashion. Who wants a disorganized life? No one! These are the things I have learnt as a freelancer so far:
- You learn every aspect of running a business. The business is your boss.
- Run errands during the day. Like going to check mail from the post office or deposit a cheque.
- You’re less likely to get sick. That’s if you have a habit of being healthy.
- Work when and where you feel like it. Except when the deadline is super near.
- Take weekends off to spend time with family. Which fulfil a level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid.
However, I noticed without structure like the ones you get in a normal organization, the following start to happen when you become a full-time freelancer:
- You accidentally end up working late nights.
- You literally don’t know what’s going on in the morning.
- You unfortunately have no time for relaxation.
- You tell guys “I can’t, I’m busy”.
- You surprisingly have difficulty delivering on schedule. Happens a lot
- You have no time for your personal projects.
- You have no hobbies or non-work-related interests. Basically you become boring.
- You read less than two books in a month. That’s if you know that reading opens your mind. If you don’t, start now!!
Our main issue is every hour of the day might not be the same as the previous day.
Out of nowhere, things do come up that can throw us off schedule. So to get things in line, the biggest questions you must answer are:
- What time do you start working?
- How many hours will you work today?
- How do you prioritize?
- How often do you take breaks?
Before answering those questions, I must address the fact that as freelancers, we fear that we won’t find other work soon. Unless you are on a retainer, then count yourself a blessed soul. Whenever we get a project that takes 3-days, we normally slot it for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. But we forget we need to market ourselves and work on our personal projects.
Without anyone holding you accountable, your days can turn into a scheduling goulash. Without a scheduled time gets choppy. ~ Andy Adams
Just a friendly reminder, Time is money, my friend. So I nowadays stretch the project out like on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Just making sure I set the deadline, not the client. Most of the time they do but once in a while do have the upper hand. It’s your creative juice they are after, so remind them. ☺
Also, I schedule my clients to leave plenty of free time for vacations, travel, and weekly get-a-ways to the new restaurant/resort. I’m sure my Facebook explains it. ☺
Also for my meetings, whether on phone calls, in-person meetings, I hold them during those parts of the day when I’m less likely to get a lot done on projects when also clients are available. I make sure my clients know when I’m available for appointments.
From 5am: Wake up, DON’T check mail, morning walk/bike ride, stretch, meditate, shower, breakfast, get dressed
From 8am: Go to desk, go through urgent mail (30 mins only), emails and social media, review to-do’s, making phone calls, having meetings, designing logos, do biggest priorities, review status of projects
From 12pm: Have lunch
From 1pm: (Remove distractions meaning no emails, phone or social media sites) Client projects, write blog content, tasks for projects, mundane business tasks
From 7pm: Prepare dinner, plan tomorrow’s tasks, sleep at 10-11pm.
During breaks: Play video games, internet browsing, snacks, naps, small errands, gym, watch an episode
Tips for all of you
- Don’t work too much. Even when we work for ourselves, we have to learn to call it a day.
- Plan your time for work, and don’t do any work outside of that time. I’m sure all girlfriends, like mine, do appreciate that boundary. ☺
- Work in 30 minutes break because when it is much longer than that, it gets uncomfortable. After accomplishing a large task, reward yourself with a break.
- You’ll feel like you have plenty of time, so don’t procrastinate.
- You can either be a morning lark, or a night owl, choose the work schedule that works for you. Stay true to your body clock. Try recognize your best working hours to increase the quality of work.
- Don’t over plan your day, biting more than you can chew.
- Create a “Burner List” which consists of tasks that you must get done that day. No matter what.
- Limit distractions.
- Don’t be afraid to say NO.
- Automate every other work that you find are not an expert in like bookkeeping, legal, communications, etc.