On top of your mind, what does a normal day in the life of a freelancer looks like? Is it working on the beach, with a smoothie next to her laptop? Working all night long to deliver a project to a customer? Or is it answering emails while doing washing machines? Do you think freelancers are habits’ masters – or do they spend the day enjoying their freedom? Is time management a thing at all for freelancers?
If you look in Amazon for books about time management and habits for freelancers and solopreneurs, you’ll find a gazillion of them. And don’t think that the reason for that is that writers can’t think of a better subject. Nope. It’s just that time management is hard! Even more so for a freelancer working at home than for an employee. Think about it. As an employee, you already have most time of your day blocked. And that’s the time you dedicate to work. So anything else you need to manage has to get done before or after work times. And you don’t have so many hours in a day, so you’d rather learn how to be quick and productive. And how to stop doing unimportant tasks.
A freelancer on the other hand, has the whole day to manage. What can look like an advantadge for someone who has never worked at home, can become a nightmare if you have work to deliver and you spent the whole day doing – well, let’s say you were not doing what you were supposed to do.
A friend once told me he couldn’t work from home ever ’cause he’d spend the day watching TV. I don’t know if I could refrain from laughing out loud at the moment ’cause, seriously, if you have customers and work to deliver, watching TV isn’t something you’re gonna have time for. Not in the morning. Not in the afternoon. Even not in the evening.
When freelancer’s freedom isn’t what you think
When I started freelancing back in 2015, I had a very clear schedule for my work at home – I started working mainly for one company, so I made sure that I was available for them during their work times. And when I say available, I mean “glued” to my PC, ’cause they expected a very regular communication with me. Translation: They were constantly messaging me. So I’d better go and be active when they needed me – that is, if I wanted to keep the client.
I’d get up at 8 am, start working at 9 am, have a quick lunch break at 1 pm, and work as long as I could. That meant that I wouldn’t take any private calls, I wouldn’t go to the groceries, clean the house, watch TV or anything similar. I had so much work to do that I even tried not to go to the toilet too often!!
So enjoying my newly gained freedom was definitely not on my schedule. One friend made fun of me saying I had the freedom to work more. And oh my gosh was she right!! I mean, I had the freedom to wake up late, but going very late to sleep. And I also had the freedom to take a couple of days off, but only because I was going to come up with those missed hours after a couple of long days and big coffee mugs.
And even though I used to enjoy my work, there came a time when I started wondering if my lifestyle made much sense. I wanted to be my own boss, to choose what I wanted and what I didn’t want to do, but there I was working as if I was on a mouse wheel. My most pronounced sentence was “I have no time.” Going on holidays was a nightmare due to all the work I had to prepare previous to and after the trip.
So, should freelancers ditch habits?
Well, that’s a big NO for me. Work habits are what let us sit down and get our job done. As much as I love working, if I had to choose between going to the beach or staying home and work… Yep, it would be the beach, right??
So you need a certain routine to get things done. Whether you work only in the morning, in the afternoon or full time, is up to you. But you do need a work schedule. Now, that doesn’t mean that you gotta have the very same routing every single day of your life! You may want to take it easier on Mondays, dedicate your Fridays to admin tasks, or go to the gym twice a week. It’s really your decision, but once you’ve taken your decision, make sure you stick to it.
If having a routine makes you wanna cry, try to find a way to get important things done first, and then enjoy the rest of the day – or the rest of the week. Working with a weekly to-do list would be a good idea for you! You just have to make sure to save some time every Friday or Sunday night, to write down everything you have to get done during the week.
I’d also recommend for you to do the same on a daily basis: Every day after you’ve completed your work, write down anything you want to get done the following day – and go through any undone tasks you may have.
Check out this post and check out some practical tips to work from home successfully.
Recap – How freelancers should manage their freedom and habits
Becoming a freelancer is a decision we make to enjoy our freedom and to manage our time the way we want. So following the same daily routine may seem an unnecessary and boring habit only employees need to do.
However, that being said, you have to learn to manage your time in order to combine your sought-after freedom with your keeping your work schedule and project delivery times under control.
In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about how improving 1% of our lives is gonna improve a bigger percentage in the long run. Sticking to habits is what’s going to lead us to success, and I think that’s the best way to have some kind of control over ourselves and our productivity.
Habits may sound boring, but you have the freedom to create the habits which best suit you and your lifestyle. The more productive you are while you’re working, the more free time you’ll have once you’re done. So, if you see it that way, creating habits gives you more time for freedom.
What do you think? Do you have daily habits? Or do you prefer to go with the flow? Share your opinion below!
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