Does your morning start with a jog and a fresh fruit smoothie, or a roll out of bed and reach for the coffee? Are your lunchtime sandwiches grabbed at your desk, or accompanied by a blissful walk in nature? Would we find you in bed by 9pm with a good book and some fluffy socks, or up til gone midnight making the most of the newly-opened nightclubs? Everyone’s working day looks different, and that’s especially true of freelancers. After all, one of the biggest joys of freelance life is that it offers as much flexibility as an Olympic gymnastics final.
But that freedom comes with a warning – if you aren’t careful about how you spend your time, you can end up spending hours needlessly procrastinating, or getting into a routine that leaves you fighting your natural instincts. This can leave you feeling tired, cranky and unproductive. In this blog, we take a look at how freelancers can make the most of the time in their day, and work schedules that suit themselves and their lifestyles – while still keeping clients happy.
Are you an owl or a lark?
The early bird catches the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese! While there’s an image that morning people are uber-productive and go-getting compared to their late-night counterparts, there’s really no virtue in keeping any particular pattern of hours. The best hours to work are the ones that work for you. If you are a night owl, there’s no point in hauling out of bed at 5am to tackle those projects – it’s just going to leave you weary and burnt-out, with very little to show for it.
You know yourself best, so try and work out what your most productive hours are and set those as your work time. This is especially true if you’re tackling complex projects that require a lot of thought and concentration. During your less productive times, you can arrange to be doing something else, or tackle jobs that require less intense mental effort like admin or emails.
Keep your clients in the loop
Obviously, even though many freelancers can work when they want to, you’ll still be having to meet timescales set out by your clients, and may need to liaise with them about things during a project. If you tend to work particularly unusual hours, it can be helpful to let your client know this upfront so they understand when they can get hold of you. You could use your email signature or out-of-office autoreply to manage client’s expectations about when you’ll be available and what hours you work. This is also polite if you might be emailing them outside of standard office hours, to let them know that you don’t expect an instant reply when you ask them a question at 2am!
Do your least favourite jobs first
Everyone, absolutely everyone has that one piece of work that they hate doing. The kind of job that you put off and put off, making excuse after excuse not to do it. For some people, it’s their tax return. For others, it’s emailing that awkward client back. It might be starting to write a big report or scheduling a meeting that you don’t really want to have. We only have one piece of advice for this, and you might not like it: suck it up and do it. Do it first. Do it before you do any other jobs. Do it before you have your morning coffee. That job isn’t going to go away, and the longer you ignore it, the more stress and worry it’s going to cause you in the long run. Tackling the unpleasant jobs first means that they’re not hanging over with you, interfering with your productivity and holding you back. And, more often than not, you’ll do it and think, “that wasn’t so bad! What was I so worried about?”. For the jobs that you don’t want to do, can we recommend a bit of self-bribery? Schedule a treat that you can enjoy as soon as you’ve finished that task you’ve been putting off: an ice cream in the park, an hour in the bath reading your book, a pint down the pub. It’ll seem extra sweet without the weight of worry on your shoulders!
Start your week well
Freelancer’s schedules can vary – perhaps you work a short week around childcare or another job. Whenever your week begins, we recommend getting it off to a good start. That doesn’t necessarily mean a power yoga session or homemade granola for breakfast (though if that’s your thing, crack on!). It means making sure that you are working smartly and strategically, setting your goals for the week ahead and prioritising your tasks so that you’re meeting deadlines without stress. We call it the Monday morning meeting, but it can happen whenever your working week starts – for more tips on how to make this planning tool work for you take a look at our guide to scheduling a meeting with yourself.
One task that we know freelancers sometimes put off is arranging their business insurance, whether that’s because insurance seems like a scary, complicated thing to think about, or because they expect it to take a long time and be a total faff. What we can tell you though, is that with Dinghy, it’s different. We’ve got helpful guides to all the different types of insurance we offer, so you can understand which ones you need to support your freelancing business: professional indemnity insurance, public liability cover or business equipment insurance. And the process of getting your insurance set-up couldn’t be easier. You can do it all online and it takes about 30 seconds. Our flexible payment options allow you to spread the cost without any extra fees, and you can even switch your cover down when you’re on holiday or looking for work. Pop in your details today for a quick quote.