Advertising
Advertising

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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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

    Advertising

    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

    8 Steps to Continuous Self Motivation Even During the Difficult Times How Not To Suck At Socializing – Do’s & Don’ts Ten Ways to Improve Your Quality of Life How To Initiate Conversation Storage Ideas For Small Spaces

    Trending in Featured

    1 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines 2 How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck 3 15 Ways to Cultivate Lifelong Learning for a Sharper Brain 4 How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position 5 Building Relationships: 11 Rules for Self-Promotion

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

    Advertising

    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

    Advertising

    Advertising

    Read Next