What will you do after work? How will you spend your time when you don’t have a boss telling you what to do? Are you feeling like you’re not managing your time effectively and running behind on projects all the time? Is it challenging to get ahead of the tasks in your schedule? Do you need help staying focused with deadlines looming? You are not alone. It is a common problem for freelance writers.
7 tips for managing your schedule as a freelancer
- Create daily task lists:
One of the most important things about time management is planning ahead and knowing what’s coming next. There is no “worry about it later” when you are a freelancer.
To address this, create a daily schedule with tasks that will need to be completed the day of or a few days ahead of time (e.g., send out thank-you emails). Do the footwork now so that you don’t have to scramble at the last minute when your next project is slated for completion.
- Do the important stuff first:
It’s easy to say that you’re going to get things done in a day when you don’t have anything going on. But if your routine is full of meetings, emails, and other distractions, it can take all day just to get in the groove.
When you sit down to work, be prepared to work! Avoid scheduling your most important tasks for after a morning meeting or during a conference call.
- Set aside a time every day to work:
“I need to work on my blog posts!” Well, you only get one chance at writing a post. So make sure you are putting your best foot forward by actually working.
Some days, this means staring at a blank page for an hour while your muse sleeps and then needing to do the dishes. Other days, it means working on the mockup for your next client meeting or the report you are writing for your supervisor.
“How much time do I need to work?” When you are a freelance writer, it’s easy to fall back on “I have so many tasks that I need to accomplish!” But, as you will see throughout this article, there is no excuse for not putting in the hours.
- Do something every day:
Take care of yourself by taking a walk outside or getting some fresh air. Laugh with your friends. Go grocery shopping. Go to the gym (or do your laundry).
In many ways, freelancing is a lonely business, so it’s important to make time for people and activities that you enjoy.
- Have a finished product every day:
If you are working on a long-term project (e.g., redesigning a website), you may want to have something that gets delivered every day as part of your regular schedule. But if you are short-term or sporadic in your work, this may be unnecessary.
A finished product every day is not necessary, but it’s a nice bonus. It shows that you have something tangible to show for your efforts. Are you making progress? Is something getting completed during this time?
- Create a strong routine:
If you are naturally organized and have little trouble accomplishing any task, you will probably be able to get away with this advice. However, if the opposite is true, come up with a work schedule that fits your needs.
Try to schedule your tasks for the parts of the day when you are most productive. It will be different for everyone, but if you can figure out a time when you feel energized and ready to get things done, it will be easier to follow through.
- Keep a few chores on standby:
I love doing chores! There is something enjoyable about putting off these never-ending tasks that need to be completed and then finally checking them off my list.
These could include making phone calls (e.g., scheduling an appointment with your doctor or cleaning out the garage), making a grocery list, or doing a workout.
Follow these tips, and you’ll be on your way to better time management for the successful freelance writer.