How To… balance a freelance schedule.

As most of you already know, I am a freelance worker and self-employed in my own tutoring business. Which is kind of cool, as it means I can sit around on my butt all day and somehow get housework done and make a full time income. But it also means the schedule is insane. My everyday life has changed a lot since I went from being “the rural housewife” to actually becoming “the second earner”, and the schedule is the weakest point of the day.

So, when you have this work here and that work there, deadlines all over the place and have to work from your own home, how do you balance a freelance schedule? Here are my tips.

1: Set hours.

If any of your work has set times, build the rest of the day around them. Don’t worry about other aspects of the day, just prioritize set hours and deadlines and let everything else work itself out.

2: Think about time.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Think of how much time you have to complete a project, look at the time you have available and make realistic decisions.

On the other hand, you can always cancel something halfway. Don’t fall for the fallacy of sunk costs. Sometimes it’s better to end a business agreement or a task halfway through in order to focus on something you would rather be doing.

3: Reviews versus money.

When starting up, sweat the reviews but keep an eye on the money. Reviews mean more money, even if you have to do some underpaid work to get there. But make sure you’re not out of pocket, either!

When you’re established, sweat the money but keep an eye on the reviews. You need to look out for yourself and your business. But make sure the buyers think they are getting their money’s worth, or you will have bad reviews.

You cannot prioritize both unless you plan on letting this become a full time job.

4: Home office.

Try and contain all your work in an area of the house. This way you will always know where it is and you will save insane amounts of time.

5: Powering down.

When you set foot outside your home office, the working day ends. Check emails, by all means, but don’t try and keep going day and night. Set aside some time to keep your house in order, enjoy your family and be yourself.

6: Write a list.

Write up a complete list of your daily tasks every morning. Write in timed ones first, then fit everything else in around the times. Include work tasks and home tasks. Push important tasks nearer the start of the day and leave less important ones as a footnote for if you have time. This should help keep you focused and make sure everything gets done.

OTOH, I’m pretty sure I need a break soon. I’m forgetting to power down.

How do you balance your schedule?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
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How To… be more productive.

I think everyone agrees that being productive is better than not.

You get things done, free up time for later in the day and have that satisfaction that comes with being pleasantly busy.

But some days it can be hard to get anything done and you go to bed feeling pretty rubbish, like you have a thousand things to do tomorrow and despite all your hard work, you accomplished nothing today.

To minimize that sort of day, here are some helpful steps to being more productive.

Step 1: Identify your tasks.

As I always say and will continue saying: lists are your friend.

Look at everything you have to do, walk around the house and look for jobs and write a list of everything that needs doing, not necessarily right now, but in the next three to seven days.

Step 2: Categorize their importance.

Make a list of ones that are urgent and a list of ones that make a big difference. Anything on both lists is very important, next comes anything on the urgent list, next on the difference list and finally we have the things that need doing but are neither urgent nor do they make a massive difference.

Step 3: Schedule them.

You only have so many hours in a day. So take the most urgent tasks and schedule them in. Anything that has a set time will obviously need to occupy that time slot regardless of importance, but you should otherwise try and get the most important things done first.

Step 4: Make a BORED? chart.

If you, for whatever reason, need to kill time, then make yourself a BORED chart.

Here is mine as an example:

BORED

Whenever you feel the urge to procrastinate, have an hour of dead space or an episode of mania, whenever you would normally just have a dead, tense gap in the day you regret later, consult your BORED? chart. That way even your slow time is productive.

Step 5: Set long-term goals.

When looking at your tasks, you need to see them as parts of a whole. Some, like doing the dishes, you just do and get done with. But some things, like keeping fit or sorting the garden, need a long term goal in mind. Work out what the end goal of your activities is and set yourself targets to hit. This lets you see how far you’re getting and adjust accordingly.

Step 6: Request accountability checks.

And if you really aren’t sure of your ability to go through with the work or to focus on your goals, why not ask someone to keep an eye on it with you? Having someone to report back to and help you refocus could be a great help.

And that is how I make the most of my time so at the end of the day I usually feel like I used my time wisely.

How do you balance your schedule? Any tips on how to avoid procrastination and maximize your day? Please share in the comments!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!