#DOSummer2015 Update #3: Scheduling = More Time

CAM00319As you can see, I haven’t made substantial progress in the last month or so on my chart. I haven’t been reading a ton of the Monday pep talks either. (Sorry, Jon Acuff.) I’ve felt a little behind the eight ball most of the summer, so things I can slough off on (e.g., exercise), I have. Unfortunately, that’s not the healthiest. And a lot of it has to do with prioritizing and scheduling.

As a freelancer, daily schedules can be a lot looser than the average 9-5 worker. With that, it’s easy to just work when you feel like it and pull long nights when you have to. After all, no one is peering over your shoulder. But that’s not the most productive. I’ve been like that a lot in college and am trying to create healthier habits. So after musing about it a bit, I’ve realized a lot of it comes down to scheduling.

Granted, I like schedules a lot. I’m a to-do list kind of person. And if you aren’t, then maybe this post isn’t for you. But for those of you who like mapping things out, here are tips on scheduling more:

1. Schedule Work Time

I know it’s easy as a freelancer to just work whenever you feel like it, but you’re less focused that way. It helps to start with a game plan each day. Personally, I’m a morning person, so if I can start my work around 7:15 a.m., I feel pretty good about myself. However, my sister hits her stride around 11 p.m. at night, right after I’ve gone to sleep! When you know what works for you, this’ll help you focus your productivity at the right times of day.

Bonus: it’s nice to be able to tell your clients your “work hours.” Granted, things change sometimes, but it adds a little stability.

2. Schedule Breaks

I’m still trying to adhere to this one a bit more faithfully. As a student, I tend to just work until my eyeballs feel like they’re falling out, and then I’ll take an hour-long break. And while that may work for some people, I lose a lot of steam once I get back to work. So, I’m trying to go for shorter increments of time, like an hour or hour and a half, and then I take a 15-minute break. I focus best that way although I know others who will take a three-minute computer breaks every 25 minutes. It’s whatever works for you. Just don’t take so long a break that you have trouble getting back to work.

3. Schedule Your Work Load

As a freelancer, rush jobs occasionally come up. No worries. But most of the time, you have an idea of what you have to do that day. Why not write it out? I knew a friend in college who would actually write out time slots in the day where she would list exactly what kind of homework she would do for exactly how long.

That’s too detailed for me, but it really worked for her. I try to just categorize work throughout the day. For example, I’ll work on one client in the morning for about three hours and then switch gears after a break to focus on another client for a couple hours. It doesn’t always work that cleanly, but that way I’m focused on one project at a time, and I can give myself permission to ignore that next project until I actually focus on it.

What kind of scheduling tips do you have?

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