Taking the plunge to be your own boss, whether you're sidestepping the corporate rat race or charting your course thanks to some confident high education, is a hugely liberating move. You can determine where you work, how you go about it, how many hours you put in a day, when break time is and how long it lasts – you name it.
Freelancing offers plenty of possibilities, but it can also prove pretty unpredictable. Luckily, keeping a routine in mind can be a grounding influence, giving you the reliable rhythm you need to do your best work. Here are a few pointers to consider, whether you're a fresh new face in the freelance realm, or a seasoned professional looking to brush up your timekeeping.
Respect your hours
This isn't just a case of making sure your household doesn't disturb your workspace, which is often an important part of running an effective home office. Instead, it's a question of respecting the hours of your own body clock.
Plenty of advice suggests you wake up early in the morning, and effectively work at your freelancing projects as though you're working at a bona fide office of old. This is fine – but only if you're a morning person. It's that age-old debate again, night owls versus the songbirds of the dawn – and likewise, working with your body clock, rather than against it, is one of the advantages of freelancing.
In short, go with which hours work with what science believes is hardwired into your genes. Work out if you'll be blasting through your work early, burning the midnight oil for it, or something in between – and build the routine you'll love from there.
Set yourself up to win
Get up, get dressed and get straight to work? Not so fast – didn't you choose freelancing to avoid that kind of pressure? Enjoy a nourishing breakfast, and get some exercise in if you can – even if it's a jaunt to the shops or the coffee bar to pick up a kickstarting java.
Hitting the ground running with a full energy tank means you're beginning your working day on the best footing and with the most alert mindset.
Phone calls, emails and messaging are often best tackled early on in the day, when everyone feels the most prepared, and when you can tackle any curveballs that arise early on, before they snowball. It also helps you work out which projects are your priority – this can shift from day to day, even if you've worked out your timetable to the finest detail, as new wrinkles emerge. Tackle those, and it's hopefully smooth sailing.
Leave time for lunch
Refueling is crucial, and ensuring you keep on top of this can help to make sure that you deftly evade the dreaded afternoon slump. That lull in energy could interrupt your freelancing time just as readily as it would a more contemporary workday, so make sure your energy levels stay measured with some good eating.
Spend the afternoon on bigger projects
The afternoons are best spent knuckling down on the larger content, project or design pieces that require some intense concentration and some serious time commitment. With the bulk of your communications sorted for the day earlier on, you've got some useful and relatively free time to really make things happen – but don't neglect your micro-breaks either.
As things wind down for the day, you can also invest some time checking out where the action is at in terms of trends, new ideas and updates from content channels you love, keeping that inspiration meter topped up nicely.
Keep your clients caught up
You're right to feel proud of the progress made today, so why not make sure those you're working for, alongside and on behalf of are all caught up?
Think of this as the other bookend for the emails and such you shot out at the start of your day. Remark on what you've delivered, openly talk over any unexpected hiccups you came across along the way, and make a game plan for the coming days, weeks, months if applicable. Clients value freelancers who keep their heads down and get the job done, definitely, but they also appreciate transparency in how the project is going on a regular basis too.
Make time to seek new projects
Whether it's once a week, every other day or even a daily routine, make it part of your working mindset to keep up to date on the opportunities out there for your skills. It's sometimes easy to get caught in the moment and lose track of some astounding, lucrative contracts that pass you by as a result.
Don't be a slave to the rhythm
If a day goes awry and your routine becomes untenable, or you're unwell and can't commit, or even if you simply can't find your rhythm and get less done than intended – don't panic. Remember, the clue's in the name when it comes to freelancing, and you've chosen to lead a more freeing lifestyle in earning your wage.
You're away from regular office expectations, so don't shackle yourself to a new routine and beat yourself up if it doesn't work out sometimes. Likewise, if you build a routine for yourself and it doesn't work out, simply take that chance to make a few changes and find what works best for you.
You're your own boss now, after all.
Freelancing gives you the chance of creating your own routine to make sure everything gets done. Get this right, and your productivity could well soar – and that means taking good care of your nutrition and health, but also respecting your body clock and taking advantage of the perks freelancing offers in setting your own hours.
Keep an open mind as you go, keep your clients in the loop alongside that, and you have the opportunity to define how your career grows, both day today and in the coming years.