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Freelance Blogging: Why You Should Schedule

Freelance Blogging: Why You Should Schedule

The best part of becoming a ‘full-time’ freelance blog writer is the freedom of time. Instead of my 9-5 Mon-Fri working week I can work when I want for as long as I want.

This is great in theory, yet anyone who has turned to working from home has found this is fraught with pitfalls.

Freelance Blogging: Why You Should Schedule

    Why You Must Have A Schedule

    When you have all the time in the world for work, you end up using all that time to work. If you resign to the fact you have the entire day to finish your workload, it will literally take the entire day to finish. It just happens to work that way.

    I can speak from personal experience, I work better with time constraints, and you probably do too. If I limit my working time to 4 hours, I’m betting I’ll get all the work done. I’ll find a way to.

    If I don’t make that distinction, my day is scattered and I’ll find myself in front of the computer the whole day, doing the same amount of work.

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    Set A Time

    If you have a partner, or a housemate, a common problem is your work time gets interrupted. If you’ve stressed the fact that your time is so free that you can work whenever you want, other people will believe you are accessible all day. And you’re not. Work is work, and you want to get it done. So make your schedule known. Between 1 and 5pm I am working. Talk to me afterwards.

    Flexibility in Numbers

    When you’re making other plans, it’s nice to be able to factor in your work. Something my previous day plan didn’t allow. I knew I could finish the work in a day, but how long did it really take?

    If I know I have 4 hours to do my work, I can make plans around that. Want to have lunch and see a movie? Sure. I can bump my 1-5 to 2-6pm. Likewise I can split my work day. I’ll do two hours in the morning and the rest when I get back home.

    That’s obvious, but since I have a clear number to work with now, I can split that how I like, as long as I have 4 hours free to work throughout the day. If it’s a nice day, I’m probably going to do only an hour at a time. Breakfast – work – market, lunch – work – music – work etc.

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    Make Other Plans

    One of the saddest things is having this kind of freedom and these kinds of hours and not utilizing the free time. I don’t mind ‘veging’ out on the internet all day in between work, but if I do that often I start feeling like I should just work at an office and get paid the whole day.

    So make plans. The movie, the coffee and lunch. Working from home is kind of lonely, even with a Twitter obsession. It’s good to get out for many reasons. Most importantly, to just get away from your work environment.

    Schedule the most mundane activities like TV and mopping the kitchen. Although these are sometimes spontaneous inclusions into my schedule, the fact that I keep in mind what’s planned for the day, nothing feels like procrastination.

    Evening and Nighttime

    Working after hours is terrible. I don’t mind working on music or something late at night, since my creativity increases for some reason after dark, but finishing my writing duties before bed just doesn’t work.

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    Unwind and relax. A problem I had with my old schedule was, in the back of my mind, I knew I had the whole night to finish the work. It’s that old idea of putting it off until I had only a limited time left to finish. Then it got done.

    Making Plans + The Nighttime

    This is my big payoff for two reasons.

    Firstly, the idea of scheduling play before work. I have the reward for finishing work ahead of me and so feel instant gratification while finishing each project. It’s all one step closer to the reward.

    I can’t put anything off because I’m going to be out, far from a computer. I’m forcing myself to stick to the schedule because if I don’t, I have to stay home.

    The second payoff for nighttime plans is the freedom I have for the next morning. I can be hungover, I have till 1pm to start work. If I can’t even start then, because of a particularly big night, I can push my schedule later. This is the kind of freedom I wanted from freelancing.

    The Morning

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    Generally this time isn’t a factor in my 1-5pm work day. However, I like to use it productively if I can. And I do this by doing the less productive kind of things in this time.

    Emails, for instance. These don’t do any good to me while I’m working, but are great to sort out before the day starts. Anything related to business has usually come in overnight or that morning, so I can respond promptly without it affecting my work. If they relate to something I must do today, I schedule it in, but emails are never part of my work time.

    This is also a great time to get out of the way general web surfing. The casual reading of anything that interests me, video and audio downloads and instant messaging.

    The number one benefit during this time is it is great preparation for my work day. I get a general idea of what’s going on in the world, and then pick out what’s relevant to my work. That way, when I begin work at 1pm, I am already on my way. This is when to plan any changes to my simpler than simple 1-5pm schedule.

    What If I Work More Than You?

    Of course, the schedule is up to you. The main point to take away here is to restrict your working time. If you don’t limit your working hours you will end up with no freedom at all.

    Next time we’ll talk about how to find the right amount of time to schedule and optimizing your working hours.

    More by this author

    Craig Childs

    Craig is an editor and web developer who writes about happiness and motivation at Lifehack

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    Last Updated on October 15, 2019

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why we procrastinate after all

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    So, is procrastination bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How bad procrastination can be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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    8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

    Procrastination, a technical failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

    Reference

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