Freelance Talk: 3/29/2019

Well it’s been a bit of a minute since I last posted. I still can’t find a theme for this site I like. Ah well.

There’s the usual plethora of excuses, but I really have been very busy. Business, in fact, is going really well! I’m moving up in terms of how much I’m paid on a per-word basis, which is cool because the truth is that I’m still finishing that novel I started in February, and so am devoting less of my time to financial pursuits as I otherwise might. 70k+ words later, I think it actually has a shot at being published once I’ve done a few more drafts.

Anyway…

I think I’m going to alter the point of these kinds of posts as I continue to blog, make them more about talking about freelancing and how I handle it in case anyone out there is wondering how to start or how it all works or what have you. I’m still just beginning, so I think these posts will have a bit of an interesting closeness to them that is lacking in a lot of guide posts from already “successful” freelancers.

I mean, actually I found most blogs with tips about how to succeed as a freelancer to be kind of useless, but I digress.

For today’s topic, I wanted to talk about scheduling and time management. Once again, I’m only three months into this working-for-myself fantasy so take my advice and words here with an appropriately-sized grain of salt. But I think that, by far, the most important skillset for a freelance writer is knowing how to manage your time. Aside from knowing how to make sentences sound interesting. You know. Compose copy. Make words do things. That stuff.

So time management. I’ve found that, now that I’m on my own, sticking to a consistent daily schedule helps me be productive for all the working hours of the day. I actually think I work slightly more hours now than I did while I was employed by a certain mermaid-branded coffee company, but it feels a lot different.

I figured I’d spell out my daily schedule in case anyone is having trouble finding a good flow for their own freelancing life. This routine really only makes sense if you’re a morning person like myself; my best energy is between the hours of 8 and 11, and by the time 1 PM rolls around I’m basically dead inside even if I’ve had a great day up to that point. I’ll mention how you can hijack your circadian cycle in a bit.

Back to the thing. My schedule:

6-8AM: Wake and eat breakfast, shower, etc.

8AM-11AM: Work/Creative Writing. Right now, I use this for novel writing. Once it’s done, it’ll be back to working. I find I can average 3-4k words an hour during this part of the day, easy.

11AM-12:30PM: Lunch and a break. I used to open at that coffee chain so I’m used to eating a little earlier in the day. Having a break in between the two big work chunks of the day helps me focus for the afternoon.

12:30PM-5:30PM: Work. What’s great about freelancing is that if I finish early, I’m done. No better feeling in the world, I tell ya.

5:30PM-10:30PM: Dinner, relax, sleep.

So it’s a pretty similar schedule to most average workdays. I wake up around the same time, I work around the same times, and I keep up with my girlfriend’s typical job schedule, too. The biggest difference is that I don’t lose a lot of time chatting with coworkers or commuting. Instead I lose it to Youtube…

What I’ve found, for this period of my life, is that I can actually use the least productive part of my day – 1PM to about 4PM – more efficiently if I leave some work to be done during that time slot. For instance, since I want to spend my best energy on my novel, I use the morning writing slot for that and, if I hit a block, maybe I’ll devote an hour to actual paying work in the morning.

But what that does is leave my assignments or articles or whatever I’ve agreed to write for the secondary slot. When I’m the least productive. Disaster?

Not at all. Instead, driven by the fact that I literally can’t let my clients down ever, I work through that lazy period and am more productive than if I reversed the situation. See, my novel isn’t something I HAVE to do. My client work is what I do HAVE to do or else I’ll starve, so by leaving it for the latter half of the day I ensure that all of my possible working hours are used as efficiently as possible.

With this setup, I usually write somewhere around 10k-15k words per day between the novel’s progress and paid work.

I think knowing how to sort of roll with your body’s physical limitations or your natural inclinations can let you develop a system that’s more efficient than trying to adapt to a system you’re not really meant for anyway. At least, it’s worked for me. There are other productivity tips, too, but maybe I’ll save those for another freelance talk article.

Speaking of articles, I’m going to be posting a lot more frequently! I took the time to come up with a ton of article ideas so next time I want to blog something, I can just start writing.

Anyway. Any other freelancers out there want to comment on their daily schedule? I think time management is really fascinating in general, since it’s cool to try to squeeze a little more money or creativity or fun out of day’s limited 24 hours.

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