Freelancing has always been for me, I just never knew it.
Then it came time for me to move on from my regular 9–5 job, and I quickly recognized that my desire to be Carrie Bradshaw was rooted in a dream to be a freelance writer. Now I’m two years in and loving life.
That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle day-to-day, though, especially when it comes to time management. It is so easy to let things get away from me when I have so much on my plate, but thankfully I’ve perfected my craft and have grown significantly better at being efficient.
1. Use A Planner
I am a self-admitted planner addict, but I finally found one that I love: The Happy Planner. I referenced it in my post that included my top five podcasts for freelance writers because it has been such an important piece of my productivity.
As much as I’m a digital person, I’ve never been able to find true productivity through an app or website – I have to use an actual pen and paper. I love The Happy Planner because it segments the day into morning, afternoon, and night, and gives me plenty of space to write. It also uses stickers. You can’t go wrong when there are stickers.
2. Focus On One Task At A Time
If I’m not on point with this, I am failing. I have computer ADD in that I’m clicking on every email, Facebook notification, and Tweet that pops up. It’s awful. Put your writing software into full screen mode or, better yet, turn off your WiFi. The constant pull to check email is such a detriment to your productivity! Instead of reading emails as they come, set aside blocks of time to read and respond.
3. Understand It’s Good to Have Work Left Over
I struggle with anxiety, which means I can’t stand having work left over at the end of the day. I want to be able to tie my projects up with a little bow and know that I accomplished something in my day. That goal is not only unrealistic, it’s counter-intuitive. If I finished all of my work each day, I wouldn’t have enough work to maintain my business!
4. Set Realistic Expectations
To help myself embrace leftover work, I create tasks or smaller goals to achieve each day. Instead of listing every open project I have every single day (a huge recipe for anxiety), I select milestones or tasks with specific projects and write them in my Happy Planner (with a sticker). That way I get a sense of accomplishment without having to finish an entire project.
5. Know That Something Always Happens
An unexpected phone call, a traffic jam, a last-minute request from a client you weren’t expecting, all derail your neatly-packed plans for the day. Knowing “something always happens” is key to surviving the world of freelance. To keep yourself from getting too frustrated, schedule your tasks for the day with a little wiggle room. That way you can still accomplish what you set out to do even when something unexpected comes up.
6. Productivity is Enhanced Through Rest
This is by far the most difficult for me. I am horrible at relaxing! As much as I love freelance, it creates a problem for me because I’m always around my work and feel a pull to be doing something. It’s a horrible habit that I am working really hard to break. If you struggle with this same problem, know that you will be more productive if you give yourself time to rest because your rested mind will operate more efficiently. So shut off that laptop, cell phone, and brain at the end of the night (or whenever you can rest) and be a better professional for it.