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8 Signs That You Have a Crappy Work Schedule as a Freelancer

8 Signs That You Have a Crappy Work Schedule as a Freelancer

Being a freelancer is truly a great career path. I mean, you have the freedom to decide when you want to work, and even how much work you actually want to do. However, it’s no fairytale—like every profession, it still has its pros and cons. For instance, the thing I want to talk about today is having a truly crappy work schedule. The worst part is that most of the time you’re not even aware that you have this problem… at least I wasn’t.

work schedule

    Hi, I’m a freelancer—a freelance writer, to be more precise—and yes, I did have a crappy schedule. Sometimes I was struggling to get even the smallest amount of work done and to handle it in a timely fashion. I always wanted to do the best work I could in order to produce a quality piece of writing, so I kept spending obscene amounts of time to get it done; to make my articles perfect (from my point of view).

    Not an advisable approach.

    But enough about me. Let’s focus on some indicators that you too might have a crappy schedule, and let’s reveal the big mystery of how to fix it (hint: there’s no mystery).

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    Note. This article is not only for freelancers. If you’re a business owner, or have a flexible work schedule in any other form then you can still benefit from this guide.

    1. You end up working late nights.

    This is the first and most basic indicator that your schedule, my friend, is a crappy one.

    Now, I’m not here to judge you, and if you like working in the evenings, that’s fine. What is and what isn’t “late night” for you is a personal thing—it’s not defined by an actual hour. From my point of view, however when you start feeling sleepy, yet you continue working because you “have to”, then you’re right in the middle of late night working.

    This isn’t good for anything: not for your health, not for your productivity, not for your results. The first step to making your schedule not crappy is deciding not to work late nights.

    2. You don’t know what’s going on in the morning.

    I know that mornings can be confusing: those first two hours upon waking up are usually chaotic and don’t contain much dedicated effort in any area. That’s fine, but problems start when it’s already been four hours since you’ve gotten up and you still don’t know what to do. I mean, you have your to-do list, your tasks, but somehow you can’t seem to get started.

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    Usually, this is not a problem with bad task assignment—this is a problem of not setting any in-day time constraints, so to speak. The thing is that your workday is not limited by a specific number of hours. You know that you need to get some things done by the end of the day, but you’re not thinking about your work time as a constant 8 hour or so effort.

    This is what eventually kills your free time.

    3. You have no time for relaxation.

    Or should I say “you think you have no time for relaxation.”

    Anyway, this connects somewhat with the previous points: if you constantly don’t know what to do in the morning, and you keep ending up working late night then no wonder you have no time to relax. Your relaxation time is actually one of the simplest indicators of how well-constructed your schedule is, and the rule of thumb is this: If you have sufficient amount of time for relaxation, then your schedule is just about okay.

    Just in case you’re not that convinced about the value of relaxation, let me just say that it’s the best and most effective way to keep you sane. It recharges your batteries and gets you ready for yet another day of hard work.

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    4. Your default answer is “I can’t, I’m busy”

    What do you usually say when someone asks you out for a beer, or a coffee? Is it the aforementioned “I can’t, I’m busy?” If so, then your schedule sucks. I’m not saying that you have to be available all day long for every social activity possible, but if you can’t find the time to enjoy some cool activities with your friends for the third week straight then something is probably not right.

    5. You have difficulty delivering on schedule.

    I’m not saying that you’re always late. I’m just saying that you have difficulties…

    Difficulties can mean working ’round the clock for the final two days before the deadline or having periods of intensified work and periods of no work at all for no apparent reason. If you’re going to prevent this, you’ll need some self-discipline and forecasting skills, so to speak.

    The approach that seems to work best for me is to handle 50% of my work as soon as possible, then space out the remaining 50% evenly over a given period of time. This way, I don’t find myself in a situation where I have to do 70% of the work in the last three days.

    6. You have no time for your own projects.

    Freelancing gives you plenty of space to handle your own stuff and to build your other brands and businesses—this sort of thing is very common among successful freelancers. However, not everyone manages to deliver on their promise, if you will. Starting another project is the easy part: finding time to execute it is a whole different ballgame.

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    If you’ve started a project, but now you have no time to handle it, then you have yourself a crappy schedule. Before you disagree, let me just say that freelancing was never supposed to be a job, so by definition, it shouldn’t be the only project on your mind.

    7. You have no hobbies or non-work-related interests.

    One thing I’m really proud of is that I’m not only a freelance writer (where I get paid for writing)—caution; one-minute boasting break ahead—I’m also a musician (one mixtape out, album on the way), a martial artist (Capoeira), and probably also a photographer (I have Instagram on my phone… and according to the Internet, that’s all I need). Is it because I have more time than others? No, it’s because I’ve made a conscious decision about my work not defining who I am.

    I’m sure I’m not the only one. You have your hobbies too, and if you think that you no longer have the time to take part in them, then maybe evaluate your schedule because, again, it is crappy.

    8. You read less than one book a month.

    This one is tricky, and to be honest, it’s my favorite item on the list. Reading is a vital activity for everyone, and especially for freelance writers. From my point of view, one book a month is the bare minimum that should be read (my mom reads three every two weeks, for example). Reading exposes you to new ideas, expands your knowledge and strengthens your expertise, and well, do I really have to talk about the benefits of reading? Reading is so much simpler in the 21st century too: we’ve got iPads, Kindles, and such, so you can keep your entire book collection in a backpack at all times.

    I guess that’s it for my list. I believe that if you handle each of the items here, you’ll make your schedule a significantly less crappy one. It’s not like I’ve already managed to get all this handled myself—I have some stuff left on my plate too.

    Feel free to comment and tell me what you think about this. Is your schedule crappy? Do you have any ideas on what would look good as item #9 here?

    Featured photo credit:  Evening traffic. The city lights. Motion blur. via Shutterstock

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    Last Updated on September 17, 2018

    How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

    How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

    Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

    Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

    All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

    Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

    How bad really is multitasking?

    It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

    Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

    This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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    We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

    So what to do about it?

    Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

    Now, forget about how to multitask!

    Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

    1. Get enough rest

    When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

    This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

    When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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    2. Plan your day

    When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

    When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

    Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

    3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

    I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

    I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

    Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

    4. When at your desk, do work

    We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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    Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

    5. Learn to say no

    Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

    Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

    By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

    6. Turn off notifications on your computer

    For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

    Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

    7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

    Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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    You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

    The bottom line

    Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

    Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

    Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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