When I first contemplated the idea of freelancing, I envisioned relaxed mornings, lazy Starbucks dates with friends, and getting all my errands finished early in the day. I would have time to bake homemade cookies, the house would finally be in perfect order, and I could pick my children up from school and enjoy a fun afternoon before the hubby came home. That’s the beauty of being a freelance writer; I have the freedom to design what my day looks like. If I don’t want to work before 10 A.M.? Fine. If I don’t want to work weekends? That’s fine too. If I want Fridays off for a little “me time”? No problem. Uh, wait. There is a problem. I don’t get paid by just turning on the computer! I actually do have to do some work! One of the biggest stumbling blocks when transitioning to freelancing is that you don’t have someone telling you to be in the office from 9 to 5. The only person who is going to tell you when to work is you. You don’t have to do a 9 to 5, but you do need to have a schedule.
Creating a Freelancing Schedule
List Your Tasks
Make a list of everything you need to accomplish for the week — and how long each task will take. Make sure to list all your administrative tasks, as well as time needed to be spent on marketing, along with actual client work. Also list your personal responsibilities, and how much time needs to be spent on each of them.
Define Your Ideal Day
Do you want to wake early and get down to work? Or do you prefer to sleep in, getting your work done later in the day. How much family time do you want/need in your day? How much personal time? At what time of day do you feel the most productive? The most creative? When visualizing how you want your day to flow, be realistic. There are only 24 hours in the day, and you must have time for work and play.
Plan Out Your Week
Keeping your ideal day in mind, fill in your tasks on a calendar app or paper planner with a start and end time, as if they were appointments. Remember to schedule personal and family time as well. Use colors to differentiate between the types of tasks to give yourself a quick view of how well you have balanced your time.
Re-visit Your Schedule
Take some time at the end of each day to evaluate how your schedule is working for you. Are certain tasks taking longer that the allotted time? Does anything need to be tweaked? What adjustments can you make to get you closer to your ideal day, while still allowing time for what needs to be done?
Creating a freelance schedule — one that balances your “must-do’s” with your “want-to’s” — allows you to manage your time more effectively. Once your schedule becomes habit, the routine puts you on auto-pilot, allowing for more focus and less distraction. Remember that the most important aspect of your schedule is that it works for you. I’ve been freelancing for over five years, and I am still fine-tuning my routine to keep it relevant to my needs.