How I Manage My Time as a Freelancer

Admittedly, I should have probably gone and got an office job after graduating, instead of diving in the deep end of freelancing. But, I’m not the kind of girl to do things by halves.

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For example, the first day of primary school I marched into the classroom on my own, confidently waving goodbye to my mum. Later the same day, I got pushed over, scraped both my knees and ended up whacking a teacher when they tried to put a plaster on me.

Instead of going to a small, local gig as my first time seeing a live band, I decided to go to a huge festival.

And the first time I ever dyed my hair, I went from my usual dirty blonde to a full head of bright red locks!

Oh, and when I moved out of my parents’ house for the first time I decided to move cities too. Nothing against my parents, by the way.

You see what I mean, though?

Anyway, today I’m here to chat about how I manage my time as a freelancer who mainly works from home. I’ve still not quite mastered the art, but I’m getting there.

Keep your diary close, and your important dates even closer.

I’ve never needed a diary more since going freelance. It’s ridiculous how busy my life is right now and how simultaneously worse my memory has become.

I use my diary to write down any important appointments, meetings or unusual deadlines (i.e. a photo shoot or extra piece of copy).

Physically writing something down really helps me to remember it. If you can remember stuff without making a note of it, who are you and what are you? Please get in touch.

I was lucky enough to receive this stunning Paperchase diary from my beautiful pal at Christmas. A week stretches across 2 pages, giving me plenty of space to fill it with dates and meetings. I also use it for planning out individual days if I don’t have my desk planner nearby (see below).

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Use a digital calendar.

I also pop every appointment, meeting and anything else out of the ordinary into my phone’s calendar app. This is in case I forget my diary or don’t have it to hand.

Additionally, you can usually set alarms/alerts on each event. I normally get it to notify me 30 minutes to an hour before the event. I also get a notification on my iPad too.

With the calendar built into iPhones, you can also factor in travel time too, which is really handy.

Plan out your month.

Planning out your whole month in advance may seem a bit daunting, especially if you work for yourself. You want flexibility right? 

This is why I make a digital calendar to plan out my month; it means I can edit it as things inevitably crop up.

I have several clients who need to know what I’m going to deliver, content-wise, and when. I simply share my calendar with them on Google Drive.

There’s probably a better way to do this, but I create a monthly plan from a table on Powerpoint.

Hey, it works for me! 

Now my clients know what I’m doing and when I’m doing it, and also when I’m planning to be ‘out of office’.

Even if you don’t have this sort of job, I would still recommend planning out your month in this way.

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Invest in a desk planner.

Not only do they look oh-so-Pinterest, but desk planners are also extremely helpful if you want to stay on track of your time.

This one that I bought from Sainsbury’s is super cute and allows me to block my time by the hour for each day.

At the beginning of every working day/week, I look at what tasks I need to complete by consulting my Google Docs calendar and diary. I then plan, by the hour, how I’m going to fit it all in.

I find that this really helps me to track how much time I’m spending, which is key when you get paid by piece, rather than hourly.

Sometimes, I find extra hours in my day that I otherwise would have wasted. I get distracted a lot. 

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Make to-do lists.

Yes, it’s true, on top of all this planning, noting and recording, I also keep additional to-do lists for each section of my work/life.

You could do this the old-fashioned way and use a post-it or small notepad, or use an app on your phone.

I’ve just discovered Google Keep. It’s perfect if you have 101 things to do for 101 different people. You can make lists and tick each task off as you go.

I also use Google Keep to note down any ideas or errands that I think of. Weirdly (and annoyingly) I often have some of my most creative thoughts on the bus or when I’m travelling. I always have my phone to hand so I just pop my ideas down here.

I used to use the Notes app on my phone, but Google Keep is my go-to now.

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Accept that it doesn’t always go to plan.

I think one of the key things to remember when you’re a freelancer, is that things do crop up and change. Yes, this might mean a few crossings out in your diary or a little bit of a panic and reschedule, but, that’s life. It’s okay if one week you can’t seem to catch up with work, it’ll all work out in the end.

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I hope you found some of these tips useful. Even if you’re not a freelancer, I think this post will come in handy – especially if you’re a blogger.

Interested in what I do for my day job? Visit my hire me page or give me a shout on Twitter

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