Diana Kelly Levey

How to Follow a Freelance Work Schedule Even if You Don’t Really Feel Like It

freelancer managing freelance schedule

April 27, 2023

Being a freelance writer has benefits and challenges, whether you’re a veteran or are just starting your career. People ask “do freelancers set their own schedule?” and “do freelancers have set hours?” The beauty of being a freelancer is that you can set your own hours and set a schedule that maximizes your workflow.

While the freedom to manage yourself is one of the greatest perks of being a freelance writer, it can also be a double-edged sword. You’ve likely fallen into the procrastination trap once or twice or at least know someone who has. A little dawdling is OK, but going for an entire day without making any progress is a sign of trouble.

Why You Should Follow a Structured Freelance Schedule

Being a freelance writer means being your own boss. Many writers, especially at the beginning of their careers, feel they can work whenever and however they want. Part of this is true — but there’s another side to it. Being your own boss also means being a boss. That means you have to treat this career like the freelance business it is. (For many of us that means we can’t sleep until noon each day and write whenever we feel like it!)

Finding clients, pitching articles, managing invoices and finances are all tasks that fall on you to stay on top of if you want to be a successful freelancer. You have to put yourself out there to find projects and freelance assignments, which likely means following a freelance marketing plan.

If it’s been too long since you’ve onboarded a new freelance client, it might be because you’re procrastinating too much. Freelance writers live or die based on how much they can write and how many projects they can fulfill. This is why developing the discipline to manage yourself and get some work done every day is essential.

Creating a strong client base and showing that you’re reliable with meeting deadlines and writing good articles as a freelancer will boost your reputation and portfolio. That’s why freelance writers need some structure in their daily lives.


Tips for a Structured Freelance Workday

Thinking of a structured schedule you can follow daily might take time. Consider how much time you have in your day to be productive as a freelancer, the tasks you need to prioritize and how much time you think you’ll need to fulfill them. Remember to keep your schedule simple and focused.

Chances are, you’ll need to tweak your schedule throughout the week (or day) fit your needs if something doesn’t go according to plan. As long as you feel good about checking off what needed to be done by the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

Here are some ideas to help you get started on how to structure your daily freelance schedule.

1. Prepare Your Freelance Schedule in Advance

When you work in an office and have a set start time in the morning, you might have a nightly routine that sets you up for a smooth morning. That could include meal prep, laying out your clothes, charging your laptop and so on to save time and stress while you’re trying to get out the door.

If you work from home and set your own freelance schedule, you might find these tasks unnecessary. However, they can help you stay on task and avoid interruptions. Instead of wasting time rummaging through your fridge for lunch, prep healthy meals in advance. Set out a “work outfit” that will get you in the right headspace, rather than staying in pajamas all day. (Yes, workout clothes and athleisure ‘counts’ as work clothes as long as you didn’t sleep in them.) Maybe even schedule in some breaks so you can run errands or exercise and tackle them during your work day.

By acting like you’re going to a normal 9 to 5 job, you will prepare your brain to be more productive and transition out of home mode.

2. Develop a Morning Routine

Having a freelance morning routine that works for you can go a long way to increasing your productivity. If you can’t just start working the moment you get out of bed, having a morning ritual can help you get into the working mindset.

Getting routine chores out of the way at the beginning of the day can free your mind so you’re not constantly thinking about stuff you need to do while working. Going for a walk or exercising can also energize you to prepare for the workday.

Even something as simple as making yourself a cup of coffee can help you prepare for some productive freelance work. A good morning ritual can go a long way to building your workday structure.

3. Make Your Daily Freelance Schedule

Your schedule is going to depend on your needs. Think about what you want to accomplish in the week. Are you still looking for new projects in the best high-paying freelance niches? What can you do to attract clients? If you already have a project, how will you finish it?

Once you know how you want your week to look, allocate time for client work and marketing each day. Set goals for yourself so you can see the work you need to get done. These objectives should be achievable so you ensure you complete tasks, no matter how small.

First, think about general goals you want to achieve, such as working on a client’s project one day and writing a blog post the next. Then, try to break down those assignments into smaller, more manageable ones in your freelance schedule.

You could plan the client’s project work for the morning and set your goal to finish the outline and the draft for the day. If you’re still looking for freelance clients that pay well, contact at least two or three daily or every other day. (Here’s a guide on what you should say in the email when you pitch an editor or new client.)

Breaking daily goals into smaller milestones will ensure you get some work done and it can go a long way to ensure you feel accomplished.

4. Use Time-Saving Tools to Manage Your Freelance Schedule

Some people find it hard to stick with a schedule if it’s just in their heads. Digital spreadsheets and scheduling software can help keep you on task. Many even feature alerts to help you stay on task and aware of what you should be working on next. Don’t we all need that?

Use these programs to plan your freelance schedule days, weeks and even months in advance. This allows you to think about what you want to accomplish in the near future and focus on that goal.

Although having your computer beep you every time a task is supposed to be done can be stressful, remember that you choose the schedule. As long as you set achievable goals, these perfect apps for writers are there to work with you and give you a leg up.


Be Your Ideal Boss by Creating Your Perfect Freelance Schedule

While freelance writing comes with much freedom, it also means you’re taking on more responsibility — after all, you’re running your own company! Train yourself to keep on task and make sure you’re working towards your freelance goals each day, and you’ll be on your way to a successful writing career.

Author bio: Cora Gold is a freelance writer and the Editor-in-Chief of the women’s lifestyle magazine, Revivalist. Connect with Cora on Twitter and LinkedIn

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