Freelance Tip: The Importance of Keeping a Schedule
What’s the first thing you do on a Monday morning? How many times do you “snooze” the alarm clock before rolling out of bed? If you want to make it as a freelancer, you’ve got to get scheduled.
Design Your Time
You don’t need strict nine-to-five hours, but you need to design a schedule and stick to it. Keeping to a schedule can be challenging without a boss or fellow coworkers looking over your shoulder, but you must persevere. You must power through the overwhelming temptation to check Facebook or refresh Reddit. Every time you open a new browser window, even if just for a moment, you’re losing valuable time. Remember, those lost minutes quickly add up!
Don’t be shy about using tools like StayFocusd or LeechBlock to limit access to time-wasting websites. These tools don’t just save time; they also build awareness. You may be surprised to find how much time you spending looking at cat memes.
A schedule is a mark of professionalism. You’re less likely to get pressured into running a “quick errand” for your mother if she knows that you’re on the clock. If you stick to a schedule, your friends and family will grow to respect your working hours.
Track Your Time
Track your hours (even your unpaid hours) to get an accurate sense of how you’re dividing your time. It’s important to know not only your total working hours, but also how many hours you’ve put into marketing, editing your portfolio, and calling potential leads.
Eventually, you’ll want to invest in software like OfficeTime, which allows you to track your time and bill for it. In the meantime, explore free alternatives like Time Out or Focus Booster. These are time-management apps that help balance working hours with regular breaks.
Respect Your Time
Remember, you can maintain a formal schedule and still reap the benefits afforded by freelancing. Start your day with a walk outside, stand up regularly to stretch, take time to refocus your eyes away from the computer.
If you’ve decided to work until 5pm, when that times rolls around, your workday is done. Avoid the impulse to respond to client e-mails or phone calls after that time. Instead, schedule time with family, catch up with friends, or work on a personal project. Don’t forget to give yourself vacation time—and a reasonable number of sick days.
You’re a freelancer. You’re neither a freewheeling bohemian nor a perpetual workhorse. If you haven’t been working by a regular schedule, it will take time and effort to adapt to the change. The results, I promise you, are worth it.