Do you struggle to stick with a regular schedule?
Keeping regular hours can be tough for gig workers.
But despite the difficulties of being consistent when you’re freelancing, it can be done.
Whether you work in a temporary office setting or telecommute from home while dressed in your pajamas and slippers, you should abide by a self-imposed schedule.
Business is business. In fact, there is a saying that perfectly exemplifies why you must learn to stick to your work routines and schedules: “to become successful, keep to a schedule.”
Just because you may not work a typical 9-to-5 workday schedule doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to create, and stick, to a self-imposed work schedule.
There are only so many hours in a day. If you don’t make the most of them, your productivity, work quality, and pay potential can suffer.
As luck would have it, we have the information and tools you need to craft the perfect schedule as a freelancer. Just adapt this nine-step work schedule template to craft your own perfect schedule.
Develop a Multi-Step Work Schedule
According to a recent study on efficient telecommuting work schedules, the key to crafting the perfect schedule is to plan out your workday. You must strive to efficiently manage your time and work day to accomplish the tasks you set out to do.
This study developed a nine-step schedule process for freelancers to follow, which we will explain. However, all Wonoloers are different and each one has different responsibilities.
You could develop your own seven-step or ten-step schedule based on this template.
1. Start Every Workday As if you Are Going to the Office
You can’t let the comfort of being home prevent you from developing a, “going to the office” mindset every morning, evening, or night that you begin working.
While some jobs in the gig economy require a trip to the office or workplace, others do not. Even though you are at home, you should designate an office-like area of your home, own a quality computer, and have fast reliable internet service.
If you have a family or roommates, make sure they know that interruptions should be kept to a minimum while you are work. You can only keep to your schedule if you treat your home working hours as if you are in an office setting.
Decide How Often You Will Work
If you don’t control your schedule, your schedule will soon control you.
As you build a system to manage the time you’re going to work, you need to make the most important decision. How often will you work? A flexible routine is both a blessing and a curse for gig economy workers.
It’s easy to take less jobs than you’d ideally want, or become overwhelmed with too many projects. Instead of finding yourself in one extreme or the other, set a frequency beforehand.
Will you work seven days a week? Four days a week? Forty hours, no more and no less? How many hours a day you work will ultimately depend on how many opportunities and clients you have and how much money you want to make.
Decide your boundaries ahead of time.
Eat Your Lunch
It might sound ridiculous, but many Wonoloers know the problem. You get so tied up in your work, you forget to eat!
Just as if you were going to an office, you need to eat daily meals. You need energy to work. Also, because you may be working from home, it can be easy to develop unorthodox work habits, like not eating because you want to power through a project.
Remember to eat regularly. It will break up the monotony of work, give you energy, and let you take a break.
Decide Your Work Hours
It is relatively easy for us to tell you to work from 9AM to 5PM as a freelancer. However, in the digital telecommuting world that we live in, life may not be that simple.
Your personal life may necessitate that you work unorthodox work hours.
Whether you work from nine to five, five to midnight, midnight to seven AM, or beyond the typical eight hour day, you must set your work hours. It will give you a routine to follow. Most importantly, it will offer your work structure for you to continue as a freelancer.
As a freelancer, you have clients depending on your integrity to finish the job. You need to view these projects as they are–your job. This is how you get paid.
Set your hours so you know when you are working.
Accomplish All Work Hour Tasks
Know what you must do during your work hours and do it. Accomplish your work. Get things done. Then do it again tomorrow.
If you have work to do, do it. If you procrastinate, or keep putting things off, that will your current workload as well as any new jobs you’d like to get.
You should also make looking for new clients a regular part of your work schedule. How much money you make and how much work you have will depend upon your initiative to always look for new clients.
A recent study found that up to 43% of freelancers always have at least 1 to 3 clients.
There are only so many hours in a day. Never take on more work than you can handle. Also, only accept jobs you know you are qualified to accomplish.
Overall, you need to figure out how much you should be working, how many clients you should have at any given time, and how it fits into your schedule.
Distractions and the undeniable comforts of home can become distractions to keeping to your schedule. You can, and should if needed, make your home working space distraction-proof.
You can use online social media website blocking apps while you work. Work in real time via cloud sharing so you are always up-to-date with your documents.
Make Use of a Reliable Time-Tracking App
If you’ll be doing freelance work from home, you need to start using a quality time tracking app.
It can help you figure out if you are working in an efficient manner. It can also help you figure out how to bill your clients appropriately for hours worked.
You can use work hour and time tracking apps, like the one at Due.com or Toggl.com, to keep reliable track of your work hours. Time flies when you are working, it is easy to lose track of time as you work. Use an app to bill accurately and earn the money you deserve. For a comprehensive list of other great time track app options, read Time Doctor’s review of the Best Time Tracking Apps.
Calculate whether you should work hourly or via set-rate, since the rate by which you work will also affect your schedule.
You have a personal life, you may have chores, errands, and family responsibilities to manage. Your pricing can dictate your work habits.
Make Time for Workouts
Yes, I know. How is exercise related to your working habits?
The truth is that you should always make time for a 30+ minute workout routine every day you work. If you make it part of your schedule it will be something to look forward to and will help you form your routine.
As you work, you will be sitting down for prolonged periods of time. Too much sitting can compress veins in your legs, impact heart health and muscle tone. Moreover, it can make your body stiff to movement.
You can’t afford to get sick, ill, or suffer injury due to illness or physical injury. You can only work your optimal best when you are healthy. Plus, when you make workouts part of your schedule, you will break the monotony of work and have something to look forward to during your work schedule.
Don’t Sleep It Off
You need rest and you need time to sleep, but don’t overdo it. Regular sleep at the same time every day will help you craft, and keep, to your schedule.
But beware–if you give in to procrastination, or start sleeping too comfortably for long periods, you will disrupt your work schedule.
Sleep must be part of your life outside of your work schedule, but don’t make it a primary part of your schedule. Your job as a freelancer requires reliability and hard work, and you need to be awake to make it happen!
Stick To The Schedule
As we mentioned before, you should take this schedule template and adapt it to your own life. As a freelancer, you may need to adjust for your family or other responsibilities. Adapt your schedule as you see fit.
The point is, create your schedule according to your life and freelance responsibilities. Then stick with it every day that you work. You may be working from home, but it is best to have a “going to the office” mindset every day to keep you dedicated to your schedule.
This is the only way to keep you dedicated to working consistently.
Develop Superhuman Productivity with a Schedule
As a gig worker, you can only do your best if you craft, adapt, and strictly self-abide by a schedule.
Treat every work day at home as if you are going to the office. Decide how many days in the week you will work according to your schedule. Make time to eat regularly and exercise. Decide your actual work hours and accomplish all daily tasks that you set out to do.
Use a good time-tracking app to keep track of billable work hours. Don’t sleep away the day. Of course, ensure you get sleep, but make it part of your schedule, not the only schedule.
Most important of all, stick to your routine. This is your job and your life.
Use these tips and you will craft the perfect work schedule for yourself as a freelancer.
Overcoming Work from Home Challenges
Do you work from home? You might be a freelancer, have flex time from your corporate job, work part-time from the home, etc. There are many variations, but what I am sure we all have in common is overcoming some of the challenges that come with this. I know I deal with challenges daily!
Most challenges we can overcome with setting a schedule, some boundaries and a plan. In order for us to be successful working from home, we need to hold ourselves accountable. I know I am guilty of having that playful puppy mentality when trying to work (or workout) from home, AKA, “SQUIRREL”. I see things that catch my eye, and it throws me off track. I see something on the floor…I stop what I am doing, pick it up, then decide to vaccum. You know what I’m talking about 🙂 Or, you go to look something up for said job, and you find yourself scrolling on facebook. TURN IT OFF after you look up what you need LOL!
While searching for some tips online, I came across a blog with some great information! AJ Brustein compiled a list that I feel is GREAT to follow. First off, it all starts with SETTING YOUR WORKING HOURS. He got most of his information from a recent study on efficient telecommuting work schedules and there is a great infographic with the same information over at BrainBoxol. I especially love the part about working out and having that be a part of your home schedule too!
We all have different lives, different things going on at different times, various possible distractions, and more. Setting our “working hours” is the first part of putting together a personalized schedule that works best for YOU.
Here is the breakdown by AJ Brustein.
How to Craft the Perfect Schedule as a Work From Home Freelancer
I also found this sample schedule for a work from home mom (google). But put something together that works for YOU.
I hope you were able to get some ideas and put them in place. I know I have!