If you’ve been working as a freelancer for a while, you know how hectic the job can feel. You may sit down in the morning with every intention of knocking out your to-do list nice and early, only to find that it’s suddenly 5 p.m., your partner is getting home, and you haven’t accomplished anything.
If you want to improve your productivity, it’s important that you have a good schedule.
Setting a daily freelance schedule is a personal matter that depends a lot on your work style. Read on to learn more about how to set your schedule and improve your productivity.
One of the best things about working as a freelancer is that you get to set your own schedule! You can start work when you like, stop when you need to, and even work on weekends, if need be. You need to make sure you’re using this to your advantage when planning your freelance work schedule.
Pay attention to when you’re most awake, alert, motivated, and productive. For some of us, that may mean working a standard 9 to 5 shift; for others, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. might be their most productive work time. Find whatever time works best for you and arrange your work time during those hours.
As your freelance business starts to grow and you begin to juggle more and more projects, you’ll find that you have a variety of to-dos for different projects each day. When you set your schedule each day, you need to make sure you focus on the most important of those to-dos first.
It’s a good idea to order your tasks by importance when triaging your projects.
You may have to-dos that are both urgent and important, such as sending an update to your clients, meeting a deadline, or talking with a new potential client. These should come first on your to-do list, followed by items that are urgent, but not important.
Items that are important, but not urgent, should be prioritized third. Items that are neither urgent nor important should be saved for last.
When you work as a freelancer, it can be easy to slip into the mindset of being at work all of the time. After all, when you're working on your own schedule and working from home, your work is accessible to you 24/7. And unfortunately, you may have some clients who view your work and your time in the same light.
Set boundaries both for yourself and for your clients during your work time. Specify which hours you’re available and whether it’s best for them to contact you by phone or email. And when your designated freelance working hours come to an end, if at all possible, close down your work for the night and walk away from it.
In addition to your work beginning to intrude on your home life, you may soon find that your home life begins to intrude on your work life when you work from home. Dishes have to get done, laundry needs to be swapped out, and the kids have to be picked up from school. Your partner may ask you to run an errand, the kids might have a question about their homework, or your mom may call just to chat.
While some interruptions to your schedule can’t be avoided, it’s important to minimize schedule adjustments as much as possible. Schedule in routine interruptions, such as picking the kids up from school or making dinner. But beyond that, let your family know that during work hours, you’re working and you’re only available for emergencies.
When you’re making your schedule, it can be easy to fill up every single block of your eight-hour work time. But think about the office jobs you’ve had and how much of that time you actually spent working. Trying to work eight hours with no break is one of the quickest ways to burn yourself out.
Plan for small breaks throughout your work time, including a lunch or dinner break. Many freelancers prefer to use the Pomodoro technique, which gives you a five-minute break every twenty-five minutes and a twenty-five-minute break after every two hours of work.
However you prefer to arrange that time, schedule space to get up, walk away from your computer, and take a breath.
Staying organized is critical to successful freelancing, but it’s important for another reason when it comes to scheduling. A schedule that you keep in your head is malleable and easy to view as optional. One that’s written down feels much more like an obligation, so you’re more likely to stick to it.
Use a calendar to enter and track all of your deadlines, meetings, and deliverables. Each week, write out your schedule as closely as you can, including when you’ll accomplish certain tasks. You might also consider setting alarms to keep you on schedule throughout the week.
Setting a solid schedule can be an important way to improve your productivity as a freelancer. Pay attention to your body’s natural rhythms, and work when you’re at your best. It’s also a good idea to set boundaries on your work time, schedule breaks, and write down your new schedule.
If you’d like to learn how to set a daily freelance schedule, check out the rest of our site at Hectic. We believe that you’re building the future, and we’re here to help you do it. Download our app today to get control of your business and become a better freelancer, all in one place.