What is the best way to organize your time as a freelancer?
Do you tend to treat it as an "office job" with set hours? Do you just have a to do list and do whatever so long as your daily tasks are done? Do you work late at night after kids are asleep for no distractions? Do your clients need you available during normal bus. hours?
I struggle a bit trying to get everything done, because I have the house/kids/work etc. sometimes it feels like I Never get a break. It's hard to get a "day off" when you freelance so I'm trying to figure out how to best manage my schedule so that I don't feel so overstretched. Any ideas?
Christin, I'm in the same boat. It's very difficult for me because my son has special needs and extra appointments on top of everything else that has to get done in a week. (Yesterday I had 3 appointments, so not much got done from my work schedule.)
I start very early in the morning. I try to wake up before anyone else because I like the peacefulness of the morning before sunrise. But then it's off to the races one thing after another. Make breakfast for everyone, clean up from the night before if not everything got put away. Make lunch for everyone to take to school/work. Help with the animals. My husband shares this with me to make it easier. Then I try to walk every day for my own health.
I'm usually working at my desk by 10-11 depending on how far I walk. I turn off my phone. I keep a huge calendar with slots to record the time I spend on tasks to keep track of efficiency. Today I set the timer in 1 hour increments to get more laundry done. Timers come in handy for me because sometimes I have trouble focusing. Time escapes me.
But then I start dinner around 2 p.m., and make sure the kids do their homework. My husband comes home at 5 p.m. I try to have my work done by then on the computer. I also have to feed the dogs at that time.
Once we eat, and homework is finished, dishes are clean, house is clean, I can come back on and work until late. Most nights I'm so exhausted I quit early by 9 p.m.
Sometimes I do have to go out of town and on those days, I have a very hard time fitting everything in to my schedule. I usually get a list of things to get done handy so I can prioritize better.
Hey, Christin! I have been freelancing for the last 5 years or so and i have found the first 2 of your "list" to work best for me. I do have somewhat set working hours which most of the time i keep up with - and i do have a to-do list but primarily for the week, not so much for the day... Having a schedule does help me be more productive and planning a week ahead helps me prioritize better. Here's a blog post i wrote on the topic some time ago: http://www.dianamarinova.com/freelance-working-hours/ (i hope it's not against the rules to post a link but i really think the post would help you answer your question about time management).
I also use extensively Google calendar for time management purposes. This helps me prioritize my tasks and to know how much work i have allocated for each day of the week... basically, it prevents me overloading myself :-) But for this you need to have very good understanding of what task takes you how much time - which naturally comes with experience, i guess. I have blogged about this, too :-)
Hope this helps!
The million dollar question! Isn't this a huge challenge each day for all of us? For me, I can tell you how I manage this for the most part, give or take an hour here and there that gets away from me. Here is the rules I live by and they have worked for me the past eight years:
1. I won't make any appts or scheduled conference calls, new sales calls, or otherwise before 10A nor after 2P.
2. I use email to be the form of communications to my clients, I stress to my clients at hire, I am not going to be a phone guy nor do i want them calling me multiple times of the day. If they call, they are to call me once and that is is, 48 hours I return all calls.
3. I answer all questions via email, if they ask it again, i direct them to the email where it was answered previously.
By implementing these basic rules, I found that on an average day I can devote 4 hours of worry free productivity and for the most part that is all I need each day to get everything done that required of me. I hope this helps.
Since I am a home-schooling mother who lives in a co-housing community, I usually work on writing around our home-schooling activities, gardening, chicken co-op work, and walking our community labyrinth. Since a bunch of fellow community members walk around 8pm each night, I join them for exercise.
So, I usually try to set up priorities that are time-sensitive. Right now I am gearing up for craft fair season. I sell copies of my book at those events, as well as other things I make (I am working on having an "offline" source of income that I engage in, too). Some of my time needs to be spent on advertising via my book's Facebook fan page. I also have a Fan Page for my Cafe Press store. I also belong to the SheWrites community. Eventually I will use Pinterest and Twitter more as a PR platform.
Miondays ~ my husband is off so I either work for an employer downtown Boston or work most of the day online.
Tuesdays ~ home-schooling co-op day; engage in offline work (painting, etc.)
Wednesdays ~ Visit to local botanical garden, drawing and painting
Thursdays ~ Work online in the morning and offline in the afternoon. ! Thursday afternoon a month is a home-schooling class we attend.
Fridays ~ Work online in the morning and offline in the afternoon (2 Friday afternoons a month is a girl scout gathering)
Saturday ~ Work online in the morning and offline in the afternoon.
Sunday ~ Offline all day!
*My "working online" involves my writing and my PR time.
Hopes this helps. ~:0)
My schedule is a bit different from most listed in the comments. I don't treat it like an office job right now. I say right now because, at one time I did and I plan on doing it again. I work late into the night, even after the kiddos are asleep. I am thinking of doing what The Compliance Doctor said and communicate through email only. I don't have a set schedule right now because I hate when I am writing an article and don't finish. I try to write one article a day, and edit one article a day. I always let the article sit for 24 hours before editing it. My life is very hectic with 4 kids, two dogs, and a serious case of insomnia, yet I'm tired all the time. I'm sure that this didn't help you but, it just goes to show you that not every writer has a set schedule.
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