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.
My schedule looks like this:
- Wake up an hour earlier than the wee ones to knock out email and get social queues rolling for the day
- Get the kids ready for school, breakfast in the bellies and butts on the bus
- Start working
- Grab lunch from the kitchen. Eat it in the kitchen, not the office.
- Meet kids at the bus stop
- Wrangle homework and snacks
- Squeeze in a little more work
- Cook dinner and spend time with the family. No checking work notifications and email.
- Bath time and preparing for the next morning
- Story time and lights out for the kids
- Grown up time for a bit with the missus
- Back to work to wrap up any loose ends for the day (an hour or so)
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.
However, simply having a schedule and knowing what to expect from your day is one of the most powerful tools in your productivity toolkit. If you don’t think that you have time to create a schedule, there is an easy fix for that.
All that you need is a piece of paper and something to write with.
Uncovering 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.
We’ll cover that next!
Bending Time to Your Will
Now that you have your daily log, 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?
SPOILER ALERT! A fair portion of these things might need to go.
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! Subtract your number from 24 and that’s a potential pile of time you can use to build your business, work on your new project or hunt down new clients.
Now just plan your day using the time you have and start building your routines. 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 a later 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!