Time is the most important resource every person has. However, for people who work 9-to-5 jobs, the routine is more likely to be clear-cut—as they would have to get to work on time and finish their tasks by the end of the day. The prospect of working overtime may even compel some people to get things done faster and more efficiently.
It’s a different story with freelancers, and if you’re one, you would know that working “overtime” tends to be the norm. This is because people who have complete control over their schedules are dealing with a double-edged sword, and it’s easy to fall into the habit of procrastination when you’re your own boss.
It’s one thing to create a schedule, and it’s another to make your schedule work for you instead of against you.
To create a schedule that can actually help you manage your time better, you must have a clear idea of how much you can realistically get done in a day, week, or month. Be mindful about how much time you allow for a certain task.
For example: If you’re a freelance writer, consider how much research is necessary to complete a certain article and allow ample time for you to do that. It would help to break down the task into a number of less-intimidating steps (e.g. research, writing the first draft, editing, writing the second draft, finishing touches) and spread them out throughout the day, week, or month—depending on how big of an undertaking it is.
Aside from helping you be more conscious of your time, following this kind of schedule keeps the momentum going since you’re rewarded with boosts of accomplishment for every small task you complete.
Juggling multiple tasks isn’t new to freelancers, as they are often expected to be a one-man team. When you’re caught in a mountain of work, it’s easy to get overwhelmed—causing you to distract yourself by focusing on the less important tasks just so you feel you’re getting some work done. Don’t fall prey to this bad habit. Always aim to tackle the important work first.
Ask yourself, “What are the top 3 things I must accomplish to make this a truly productive day?” Write them down, and focus on getting those three things done before jumping into the easier (but less urgent) tasks.
Also, when you’re a freelancer, getting paid isn’t that simple. There’s a lot that needs to be done to make sure you get paid on time. There’s also the unfortunate task of following up on any late payments, picking up your cheque, and other things you wouldn’t normally have to do if you were privately employed. This takes a lot of time and effort, and it may be wiser for you to ask for help instead of doing all of these things yourself.
In this article, we talk about how you can make sure you focus your energy on the right things—things where you can bring the most value.
We understand that as a freelancer, you earn from the projects you get, which makes it tempting to take on a lot of projects at once. However, you must also be careful not to overfill your plate. Working on too many projects simultaneously can have a drastic effect on the quality of your work, and may not be beneficial to you in the long run.
This brings us back to mindful scheduling. If you have a realistic gauge of your capacity to deliver, you’ll know when it’s better to say no. Clients will also appreciate you more and take you seriously when you know how to handle your resources and are honest with your limitations.
As with any other kind of job, freelancing loses its charm when it creates a toxic environment for you. That’s right—a toxic environment isn’t only created in an office with a few burned out employees and a vindictive boss. It can also happen in your world as a freelancer, but only if you lose track of what you really want to do as a creative freelancer.
When you are able to settle into a routine that works for you and create a schedule that complements the lifestyle you want, freelancing can be a really fun and lucrative path for you—no matter if you’re a freelance writer, graphic artist, videographer, photographer, or content creator.
Just remember: Be mindful about how you spend your time, prioritize the things that add more value to your work, and say “no” when you need to.
For more articles about freelancing, creativity, and content creation, visit The Crafters.