Picture it: you just quit your job. You start freelancing full-time tomorrow. You finally have the flexibility to work around your life, rather than live around your work. With your 9-5 in the rearview mirror, it may be tempting to scrap the idea of a work schedule entirely.
But that would be a mistake.
While the freedom of freelancing is arguably its biggest appeal, you need to blend that flexibility with continued productivity. That means you need some sort of a schedule.
What’s a Schedule, Really?
A schedule doesn’t have to be elaborate, rigid, or restrictive. In the simplest terms, a schedule is merely a plan to get stuff done. That’s it.
Yes, timing is an element of scheduling. But, remember: you own and control your hours now!
As long as you’re able to meet client deadlines, you can say when and how often you’re in the office.
Setting Your Schedule
You don’t necessarily need to work the same schedule day in and day out – though many freelancers credit their success in part to having this structure.
But, you do need to block off time to get your work done.
How you do this depends on a variety of factors.
Your three biggest considerations? Who lives with you in your household, how you work best, and what your freelancing goals are.
If you’re single and live alone, you have full control over your day. You can schedule your freelancing tasks anytime you want, totally carefree. (OK, not really. But, you get the point.) Day-to-day, no one else is counting on you.
But, if you live with a partner, or have a family, that’s not the case. You may need to adjust your schedule to accommodate their needs – while still remaining productive.
That could mean:
- firing up the laptop before sunrise
- working after everyone else has gone to bed
- doing the bulk of your tasks when your partner is at work or the kids are in school/at camp
- banging out quick tasks in those rare, fleeting moments when the house is quiet
But – you don’t have to be the only one that makes concessions. Your work is important, and the success of your household — and your freelance business — is a team effort.
So, keep an open dialogue with the folks in your home.
Set some mutually agreed-upon ground rules.
Consider establishing office hours when you’re not available to your partner or children (except for emergencies).
Ask your spouse to take the kids out of the house at set times so you can concentrate. If your children are older, give them activities to do in another room.
Over time, you will find a harmonious way to coordinate the personal and professional aspects of your life.
How You Work Best
Although your family’s needs may override your work preferences, it’s still good to answer questions like:
- Am I a morning person? A night owl?
- Do I work best in long stretches or in quick bursts?
- Do I fall apart without a routine, or do I like mixing it up?
Then, try to complete your freelance tasks accordingly.
Your Freelancing Goals
Remember why you went freelance.
If you’re income-driven, you’ll likely take on more assignments, work longer hours, and may benefit from a more structured schedule to get it all done.
But, if you became self-employed for the freedom, you probably won’t book yourself solid. That means you can let your schedule be fluid, accommodating your ever-shifting priorities.
By the way – making money and enjoying freedom are not mutually exclusive. You can make bank and enjoy a flexible, leisurely schedule.
It’s just important to understand your top priority. Keeping your main freelancing goal in mind will help you make the right decisions for your life and business quickly and easily.
No matter how you schedule your freelancing tasks, be sure to set boundaries – for yourself and for your clients. Have designated time where you’re not available – and honor it!
Also – realize that your schedule can and should change – based on how your life does. You’re not locked in.
Enjoy the flexibility!
Just get your work done, OK?