There are plenty of stereotypes about work-at-home moms and dads to be found. You’ve got the ‘loafing around in their slippers and robe’ freelancers, the ‘it’s just a phase, one day you’ll get a real job’ freelancers and the ‘sipping mojitos at a beach-side cabana with Paco the studly man servant’ type freelancers. Even better, there are endless products and websites out there telling you how to reach your goals of studly cabana-tude. This does not help the stereotypes at all. The real truth is that freelancing and working from home goes much smoother when you approach it like any other job. A crucial part of this is developing schedules and habits. Here is my method for finding time in the day to get things done.
Bad Habits and My Personal Routine
Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute. While there are some people out there that will work until the day they are put in the ground, many of us, if left to our devices, are far better at filling our time with fluff than we are at filling it with productive habits. A great way to start working towards creating productive work habits is to set a schedule. Whether you are working on your social media accounts, writing up blog posts, searching for new clients or writing that new best seller about orphaned hybrid werewolf vampire princesses and their unrequited love affairs, try to block time into your schedule to work on your business.
I wake up an hour earlier than the wee ones and get most of my email and social media stuff caught up from overnight, do the morning school bus routine and then settle in to work. Grab a quick bite around noon from the kitchen and work until the kiddo gets home in the afternoon. From there, it’s family time for a bit. After cooking dinner, we’ll usually watch a show on TV or play a board game. Then it’s bedtime, story time and finally another hour or so of work before turning in. Sometimes, when the missus is able to cover for me, I’ll switch it up and work at night, take care of the morning routine and head to bed. Either way, I stick to one of the two schedules. Your schedule might be different depending on existing family routines. If you don’t think that you have time, there is an easy fix for that. All that you need is a piece of paper and something to write with.
Finding Time in Your Daily Routines
Start with the time that you wake up in the morning and write down your activities for the day and the amount of time that you spend doing them. Include everything from the moment that you open your eyes until the time that your head hits the pillow. This step is crucial to finding your free time. Be thorough. If you really want to break things down, keep track for a couple of days.
Once you have your information, the scary part begins: whittling away time for work within your existing schedule. There is no magic fix. We all get 24 hours to do what we need to do. Part of successful freelancing is time management. Learn to love it and you’ll quickly reap the rewards.
Bending Time to Your Will
Grab your pen and add up all the time spent with leisure activities. How much time did you spend watching television? How many hours were you on Facebook and not promoting your business? Play any video games this week? Guess what? A fair portion of that is probably about to go. Add up your time and write it down.
The next set of things to look for are tweaks to important tasks. How can you shave a few minutes off of dinner prep? Any way to squeeze a few more minutes of housework out of the family? Have you optimized your morning school routine? While these little things might not seem like much, if you only shave 10 minutes from your average routine 6 days of the week, you would have an extra hour to devote to your business and get things accomplished. Every minute adds up.
The last set is the true essentials. Things like personal hygiene, homework time, sleep and a little personal time with a book, video game or other fun activity. While we’re trying to shave time, we’re not trying to build a schedule that will result in burn out in a week and leave you hiding in the bathroom from your kids and dodging clients. Personal time is important, but make sure that it is in moderation and at times that you can truly make it worth your time.
Add up your three sections and there you have it. The time that you can use to build your business, work on your new project or hunt down new clients. While it might take some sacrifices, it is an unavoidable part of freelancing. For me, these sacrifices are better than the alternative of showing up to make someone else a paycheck while I get the scraps. The first step in taking control of your own situation is taking control of the time you have.
Now that we’ve got the time taken care of, it is time to start building habits. We’ll pick up on that in the next post. Until then, I hope your freelancing efforts are going well and that you’re seeing progress toward your goals. Do you use these methods to find time to work? What have you given up to make your freelancing endeavors successful? Any questions you have about freelancing that I haven’t covered before? Drop me a line on the contact page, look me up on social media or leave a comment in the boxes below!