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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
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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.

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    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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    Karol Krol

    Blogger, published author, and founder of a site that's all about delivering online business advice

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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