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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 February 20, 2019

    How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

    How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

    Are you stuck in the same position for too long and don’t really know how to get promoted and advance your career?

    Feeling stuck could be caused by a variety of things:

    • Taking a job for the money
    • Staying with an employer that no longer aligns with your values
    • Realizing that you landed yourself in the wrong career
    • Not feeling valued or feeling underutilized
    • Staying in a role too long out of fear
    • Taking a position without a full understanding of the role

    There are many, many other reasons why you may be feeling this way but let’s focus instead on getting unstuck.

    As in – getting promoted.

    So how to get promoted?

    I’m of the opinion that the best way to get promoted is by showing how you add value to your organization.

    Did you make money, save money, improve a process, or some other amazing thing? How else might you demonstrated added value?

    Let’s dive right in how to get promoted when you feel stuck in your current position:

    1. Be a Mentor

    When I supervised students, I used to warm them – tongue in cheek, of course – about getting really good at their job.

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    “Be careful not to get too good at this, or you’ll never get to do anything else?”

    This was my way of pestering them to take on additional challenges or think outside the box, but there is definitely some reality in doing something so well that your manager doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.

    This can get you stuck.

    Jo Miller of Be Leaderly shares this insight on when your boss thinks you’re too valuable in your current job:[1]

    “Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role. I bet there was a time when this job was a stretch for you, and you stepped up to the challenge and performed like a rock star. You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong “personal brand” equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call “a good problem to have”: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done “too” good of a job!”

    With this in mind, how do you prove to your employer that you can add value by being promoted?

    In Miller’s insight, she talks about building your personal brand and becoming known for doing a particular job well. So how can you link that work with a position or project that will earn you a promotion?

    Consider leveraging your strengths and skills.

    Let’s say that project you do so well is hiring and training new entry level employees. You have to post the job listing, read and review resumes, schedule interviews, making hiring decisions, and create the training schedules. These tasks require skills such as employee relations, onboarding, human resources software, performance management, teamwork, collaboration, customer service, and project management. That’s a serious amount of skills!

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    Is there anyone else on your team who can perform these skills? Try delegating and training some of your staff or colleagues to learn your job. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea:

    1. Cross-training helps in any situation in the event that there’s an extended illness and the main performer of a certain task is out for a while.
    2. In becoming a mentor to a supervisee or colleague, you empower then to increase their job skills.
    3. You are already beginning to demonstrate that added value to your employer by encouraging your team or peers to learn your job.

    Now that you’ve trained others to do that work for which you have been so valued, you can see about re-requesting that promotion. Be ready to explain how you have saved the company money, encouraged employees to increase their skills, or reinvented that project of yours.

    2. Work on Your Mindset

    Another reason you may feel stuck in a position is well explained by Ashley Stahl in her Forbes article. Shahl talks about mindset, and says:[2]

    “If you feel stuck at a job you used to love, it’s normally you–not the job–who needs to change. The position you got hired for is probably the exact same one you have now. But if you start to dread the work routine, you’re going to focus on the negatives.”

    In this situation, you should pursue a conversation with your supervisor and share your thoughts and feelings. You can probably get some advice on how to rediscover the aspects of that job you enjoyed, and negotiate either some additional duties or a chance to move up.

    Don’t express frustration. Express a desire for more.

    Share with your supervisor that you want to be challenged and you want to move up. You are seeking more responsibility in order to continue moving the company forward. Focus on how you can do that with the skills you have and will develop with some additional projects and coaching.

    3. Improve Your Soft Skills

    When was the last time you put focus and effort into upping your game with those soft skills? I’m talking about those seemingly intangible things that make you the experienced professional in your specific job skills:

    An article on Levo.com suggests that more than 60 percent of employers look at soft skills when making a hiring decision.[3]

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    You can bone up on these skills and increase your chances of promotion by taking courses or seminars.

    And you don’t necessarily need to request funding from your supervisor, either. There are dozens of online courses being presented by entrepreneurs and authors about these very subjects. Udemy and Creative Live both feature online courses at very reasonable prices. And some come with completion certificates for your portfolio!

    Another way to improve your soft skills is by connecting with an employee at your organization who has the position you are seeking.

    Express your desire to move up in the organization, and ask to shadow that person or see if you can sit in on some of her meetings. Offer to take that individual out for coffee and ask what her secret is! Take copious notes and then immerse yourself in the learning.

    The key here is not to copy your new mentor (think Jennifer Jason Leigh in “Single White Female.” Just kidding). Rather, you want to observe, learn and then adapt according to your strengths. And don’t forget to thank that person for their time.

    4. Develop Your Strategy

    Do you even know specifically WHY you want to be promoted anyway? Do you see a future at this company? Do you have a one year, five year, or ten year plan? How often do you consider your “why” and insure that it aligns with your “what?”

    Sit down and do an old-fashioned Pro and Con list. Two columns:

    Pro’s on one side, Con’s on the other.

    Write down every positive aspect of your current job and then every negative one. Which list is longer? Are there any themes present?

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    Look at your lists and choose the most exciting Pro’s and the most frustrating Con’s. Do those two Pro’s make the Con’s worth it? If you can’t answer that question with a “yes” then getting promoted at your current organization may not be what you really want.

    The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. –Mark Twain

    Mel Carson writes about this on Goalcast that many other authors and speakers have written about finding your professional purpose.[4]

    Here are some questions to ask yourself:

    • Why is it that you do what you do?
    • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
    • What does a great day look like?
    • What does success look like beyond the paycheck?
    • What does real success feel like for you?
    • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

    These questions would be great to reflect on in a journal or with your supervisor in your next one-on-one meeting. Or, bring it up with one of your Vital Work Friends over coffee.

    See, what you might find is that being stuck is your choice. And you can set yourself on the path of moving up where you are, or moving on to something different.

    Because sometimes the real promotion is finding your life’s purpose. And like Mastercard says, that’s Priceless.

    More Resources About Career Advancement

    Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

    Reference

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