Working from home as a freelance writer does afford you many freedoms. You can work in your pajamas. You can work from your bed, your office, or your couch at home. But perhaps every once in a while you want to work outside the home and rent a shared office space, go to a coffee shop, or a bookstore. You can work during the day, or you can work after the kids go to sleep.
However, every freelance writer needs a freelance writing work schedule. It’s vital to making sure you stay on task and get all of your work done every day. And it’s also vital to ensuring that you end your day at a specific time so that you don’t over work yourself and cause burnout.
You also have freedom when deciding how you want your schedule to look, and what is the best way to maintain it.
Figure Out Your Goals
Knowing what you want to achieve in the short term with your freelance writing business (because it IS a business and should be treated as such) will determine how you look at your writing schedule. Depending on your goals, you may work a few days a week, or you may work six. You may work for four hours each morning, or you may work a full eight to nine hour day. However, you must know your goals before sitting down and setting up a freelance writing work schedule for yourself.
Lauren Carter says wisely, “The first step to creating a killer schedule is defining your three short-term writing goals, because these will guide all of your actions.” Her blog talks about many ways you can identify the goals you want to set for yourself in the short-term that will guide that schedule.
Make a Daily & Weekly Checklist
When you write down a list of tasks that need to be completed each day and week, you know what you will need to be placed into your freelance writing work schedule before you sit down to write it. This will make creating it much easier. The lists you make will be comprised of tasks you already do each day or week, like checking your email or any recurring writing assignments you have, as well as items you have found from creating your three short-term freelance writing goals in the step above. They may be the goals themselves or the steps you need to achieve those goals.
Schedule the Proper Amount of Time
You should know how long each task on your checklists takes. Before making an actual schedule of what will be done when, take a few days to time yourself doing each task and write down these times. Then take an average of these times and schedule this amount of time for it when you put it on your schedule.
Rubie, of the Domestic Beast, gives some fantastic advice about additional scheduling: “Always allow for 10-15 minutes of break time between each task.” She goes on to talk about why this is important. Not only do you need a mental break but you can take time to recharge your creativity and face the next task with fresh eyes.
Important Things to Schedule
Not only do you need to make sure each task has a well defined time slot and you stick to it, you need to schedule two other important things: stop/start times, and meals.
Starting and stopping at the same times are very important. Not only will your clients be able to anticipate when you can contact them, but you will have a regular routine to follow. The end time should be adhered to without question, even if you are in the middle of something. Your work hours are important and sacred, and so are the hours you spend NOT working so you can spend time taking care of yourself and spend time with friends and family.
It can be hard to take time away from what you are doing to eat. However, eating will ensure that you are thinking properly and that you maintain your health. If you schedule in the time to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you will always stop what you are doing to eat, because that time was set aside just for that.
When you decide to start and stop work, when you decide to schedule your meals, when you decide to place each task that you have to accomplish each day, and what exactly the tasks are that are placed on your freelance writing work schedule are completely up to you. This is part of the reason why freelance does equal freedom to many people. However, having discipline to create and stick to a schedule will ensure that you get the most out of your time and effort.