Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
The best thing about being a freelancer is I get to choose my workplace and work time. Be it beach side or the comfort of my bedroom – as long as I have my laptop with me and free WI-Fi, I am all set to work! But, alas! Freelance life is not as rosy as it may sound like. Since most freelancers work on multiple projects for clients across the globe, we need to follow stringent timelines. And adhering to your commitment is one of the critical aspects of building your reputation as a freelancer. Having said that, since freelancers are not bound by a 9 – 5 routine unlike a corporate job, I have seen most of my peers’ slog until the wee hours. Working over the weekends is also common among freelancers.
I switched to freelancing after spending a decade in corporate life because I wanted a better work-life balance. So, for me, it was important to strike the right balance so that I did not need to compromise on my work nor with my family time.
What worked best for me is having a set routine. I am obsessed with routine and my productivity is at its best when I stick to my daily routine. Effective time management and a little bit of planning have helped me a lot to achieve that perfect and much-coveted work-life balance. And here, I am sharing my tried and tested tips with you all.
Have a scheduled work hour
First thing first. Fix your work hours. Some people work best at early morning, some people get active at the later part of the day. For example, I work from Monday – Friday usually between 9 am and 4 pm. This way, I can wrap up my day before my daughter is back home from school. I stick to this schedule throughout the year. I don’t respond to mail and official calls (unless the world is crashing) before or after my work hour. That way I can spend time with my daughter when she is home.
Keep clients informed
This is super important. I ensure to communicate my work hours to clients before taking up any projects. Most of my clients are okay with this arrangement, and I haven’t faced any problem so far. Clients appreciate if they are informed well in advance and will respect you too.
Do some maths
Once you are aware of how much time you can give in a day or a week, estimate the amount of work you can take up. Don’t fall for taking up additional work and stretching beyond your work hours. Instead, choose your work wisely, produce quality work, and charge accordingly. For example, as a freelance writer, I can manage writing 1500 words per day on average including the time for research, proofreading, editing, and fine-tuning.
Keep buffer time
Life always doesn’t go the way we want it, right? A friend turning up for a coffee or firefighting some emergencies at personal life is nothing uncommon. What happens to your scheduled work hour then? Missing work hours means piling up of backlogs. What I prefer is to keep buffer time. I usually keep the second half of Friday and sometimes Saturday mornings for managing to complete all the pending tasks that I might have missed because of all those unforeseen events which interrupted my work schedule.
Set expectations with your clients
Once you are aware of how much work you can fit in, set expectations and timelines with your client accordingly. Clients love it when you are upfront and communicate it beforehand.
Keep a to-do list
Begin your week with a to-do list. Note down all the deliverable for the week with their timelines. Stick it onto your laptop or anywhere near your work space. Having a to-do list right in front of your eyes helps you to stay focused on your job. Strike it off as you finish them. This is not mandatory, but it gives me a psychological boost!
It takes time to inculcate this habit, but once these simple techniques are ingrained, your life will be sorted for the good! Follow them until you strike the right work-life balance!