You’ve chosen to freelance – while this can be an empowering choice due to the lack of someone designing your working day for you, it can also make you feel stressed due to the lack of focus provided. We’ve put together a few useful ways of organising yourself to help you gain focus and avoid floundering when it comes to carrying out your working day.
Timetable your week
Set out your working week, complete with any meetings, telephone calls or deadlines you have. This will enable you to see at a glance what’s in store for your week. It’s a good idea to pay attention to how you work over the week as this will help you learn when to schedule what. I have learnt that Mondays and Fridays are not my friends. I found it difficult to get going on Mondays after the weekend so will very rarely schedule important meetings or phone calls on this day. Fridays are the same. I have made Fridays a day for professional development – I use this for networking, learning or developing my business in some way. Knowing how you work can help you timetable the perfect week for you.
Plan your day
Knowing what lies ahead of you is a sure-fire way to bring some focus in to your working schedule. Some will use electronic calendars, others may use a general to-do list. It doesn’t matter how you plan out each task required, the mere act of planning it out gives you clarity about what needs to be achieved. I personally use a bullet journal layout, this is a great way to cross off tasks as I go along providing a sense of achievement at the end of the day. Planning out your tasks also helps you learn if you are trying to fit too much in one day.
Allow time for some form of exercise
Depending on your freelance work, there is a danger that we may spend a large amount of the day sitting in front of a computer. If you work in a co-working space, maybe choose to walk or cycle there rather than use public transport. Go out for a walk at lunchtime to get the blood flowing. If you work from home, schedule errands like going to the post office or bank during a lunch break and walk/cycle there to give yourself an excuse for some cardio. Standing desks are another great way to stop yourself being hunched over a keyboard. I also wear a FitBit to monitor how many steps I am taking a day. Wearables can help the static worker remain aware of how much or how little exercise they are getting each day.
One of the things I found most difficult I found when I went freelance was how mean a boss I could be to myself. I rarely allowed myself time for a break. This often meant I was completely drained by the end of the day. By scheduling a set amount of time for a break from work you are providing your body and mind with some much-needed downtime. If you are finding that you keep telling yourself that you don’t have time for a break, you should go back to your weekly timetable or daily plan as it is clear you are trying to fit in too much.
All this talk of scheduling and timetabling may feel too regimented for us freelancers. So it is important to be flexible with any schedule you have put into place. That’s the great thing about being your own boss, you can change things. Just because you have written it down doesn’t mean it is set in stone. I don’t always wake up at the same time every day or finish work at the same. I chose to be a freelancer for the flexibility. However, I do mostly work the same hours every day. If I get up earlier, I finish earlier. If I get up later… well, you can figure it out. As long as I work my set hours, I feel like I have been productive.
Know how to switch off
I work from home in my home office so could easily find it difficult to separate my working life from my home life. To ensure that this does not happen, I have put an end of the day routine in place. My day always ends with me going back to my bullet journal, crossing any tasks I had left and making any changes necessary to tomorrow’s schedule. I then tidy my desk which I feel sets me up for the next day. This small tasks allow me to feel like my working day has ended. A final important thing I do is shut the door on my office, a metaphor for shutting myself off from work.
Mel Green – Evergreen Editorial Services