Today’s post is going to be a bit different from what I usually write on my blog.
Freelancing is a hard industry to be a part of.
While many people seemed to aspire to be freelancers or think that it’s so much nicer when you don’t have a boss, it’s not that simple.
In reality, while you don’t have a manager or a person who’s always there, checking your every move, you do have several bosses at the same time…
… Your clients.
This makes it even more challenging as now you have to worry about appealing and pleasing more than one person responsible for your well-being!
Before I quit my regular job to freelance, I was always curious about how a freelancer’s day looks.
And I’m going to be honest:
I’m still super curious about reading about successful people’s daily routines and how their workdays usually look like.
Now, I’m not here to say that I’m a successful freelancer by any means…
That’s why this blog post’s title is the average day of a freelancer and NOT the average day of a successful freelancer.
In 2020, I focused hard on building my freelance business and learning to be as productive as possible.
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And it’s been a battle; I’m not going to lie.
It’s still a daily battle, as when you work for yourself and set your own rules for work, especially if you’re creative, it’s fucking hard.
And while I feel like the luckiest person alive to be able to write for a living, it doesn’t mean that it’s all butterflies and unicorns!
So, today I wanted to chat about freelancing and productivity and share my personal tips and tricks on how I manage my freelance business.
And, I also wanted to give you an insight into a day of a freelancer and how my schedule looks like.
I’m going to stop rambling now, and let’s dig into this post already:
Freelancing And Mental Health
If you’re someone that doesn’t suffer from mental health issues, I’m going to say one thing to you:
I’m fucking jealous!
No, I don’t think your life is any less shit or that you don’t have issues.
But at least you don’t have to deal with your mind playing tricks on you.
And when you’re a freelancer, working for yourself by yourself all the time, mental health can get in the way of your productivity.
You have to be extremely disciplined to stick with your schedule and make sure that you work or you don’t get paid.
For me, discipline was never someone I’m friends with due to how I grew up, just getting my way with my charm and smart little head.
Now, in high-school and with parents that might have worked, but with freelancing, this shit doesn’t fly.
So, honestly, after two years of failed attempts at being a freelance writer, I had to get a therapist to start making serious money freelancing.
Yes, you read that right.
The secret to my productivity and success as a freelancer is having a good fucking therapist!
If you’re reading this right now, and think about quitting your job to be a freelancer, think about the state of your mental health first.
Are you suffering from anxiety, depression, or whatever else that could interrupt your productivity when there is no one there to force you to work?
Do you have your adult systems in place that allow you to make shit happen instead of organizing the drawer of old CDs and VHS tapes from your childhood that you’ll never watch again?
A lot of advice for freelancers forget to mention the mental health aspect and that to make freelancing work for you, you have to have systems in place that allow you to be productive no matter your mental state.
If you’re a procrastinator, as most of us are, there is no shame in that; it just means that you have inadequate skills set dealing with stress.
Before you quit your job to freelance, learn to manage stress and your emotions, or you’ll be fucked when there is no one else there, just you and your laptop!
Slow And Steady Wins The Race
Taking time off is crucial.
Even if you’re working for yourself and every hour that you don’t spend working seems like a waste of time because you could be making money instead.
I was a massive fan of Gary Vee and his 24/7 hustle mentality, and I still admire the guy.
But having this determination that you’ll work all day every day until you make it can fuck you up real bad.
There is no need to wake up at 5 AM and function on 5 hours of sleep to be successful.
You also don’t need to work 12 hour days, seven days a week.
When you’re figuring out your freelance career, don’t forget rest time.
And when I say rest time, I don’t only mean not working on your laptop, but also not thinking about how you’ll work in your head while you’re doing something else.
Honestly, I’m so guilty of that.
You might think that ‘oh, but I’m not physically working, so it doesn’t count!’
Hate to break it to ya, buddy, but:
Your mind doesn’t know that you’re not working; it’s still in the state where it’s alert and working with all the brainpower.
And it still tires you, and you don’t get to recharge.
Which, in the end, can lead to burnout.
I love having one day a week, usually, either Saturday or Sunday, when I don’t think about work at all.
I don’t check emails, don’t check my bullet journal, just go about my day like my work doesn’t exist.
Now, I still write. I write every single day, whether that would be for clients, myself, or personal projects.
But I don’t think about my writing work, whether that would be clients or my blog.
It’s better to take your time and reach success later than other people than push your limits and then burn out when you’ve reached the top.
Or even worse:
Do something horrible to your career, just because your brain wasn’t functioning right from all the burnout.
You can see this happen to many young creatives on social media who push themselves too hard and then crash.
4 Freelance Productivity Tips That Don’t Suck
Now, in 2020 I focused on finding the secret to the ultimate productivity that would help me become the next Tim Ferris (just less alpha male vibe).
And I bet you’re looking for that magical pill or formula as well, right?
Well, I’m here to tell you that there is none.
It’s possible to go from lazy couch potato to productive genius without even leaving your couch!
Let’s find out how:
Tip #1: Stop Waiting For The Inspiration To Strike
It will never strike, and if it does, it will happen only for a brief moment, and then you’re once again left in the dark when the moment passes.
Yep, that sucks, but that’s just how it goes.
You see many posts and articles on the internet where people tend to play on the ‘motivation‘ or ‘inspiration,’ and I think that’s harmful as it creates that false sense that you have to find ‘motivation‘ to work.
As I’m sitting writing this on my couch right now, I’m feeling all sorts of things, and let me tell you, none of them are ‘inspired‘ or ‘motivated.’
But I’m doing it because I only have two hours to finish this entire post, so I’m forcing myself to do it.
And that the #1 secret to productivity for you:
You have to stop waiting for the right moment; you must learn to force yourself to sit down and do the work.
Tip #2: Create A Working Scene
It doesn’t have to be the location.
It doesn’t have to be work clothing or makeup.
Notice how I didn’t use the word ‘workspace,’ but instead used the term ‘scene’?
That’s the key here:
Not everyone has enough space at home for a home office or a dedicated desk for work.
Some of us have to deal with small spaces and other people living in the house, so sometimes the kitchen table is all you’ve got.
For this reason, you should not focus on creating a space, but more like a scene for yourself.
If you’re not sure what I mean, let me explain:
For me, it’s this fall coffee shop jazz playlist on Youtube. I put it on every time I have to sit down to write, and it indicates that now the work scene is set and I’m here to do the work.
I also have another autumn jazz playlist on Spotify that I put on when I’m working on my passion project as it sets me in the working mood for it.
When I discovered this little trick, it absolutely changed my productivity game.
For you, it might not be a playlist or music (feel free to use that jazz coffee shop setting; it’s exquisite!).
It could be making yourself a specific beverage each time you sit down to work.
Or it could be lighting a candle, which will serve as a signal to your brain that the time to work is about to start.
Honestly, it can be anything easy for you and that you like.
If you feel like putting out rose quartz close to your computer while you work, let it be it.
Setting a scene instead of creating a set workspace will make it easy for you to start working as you’re not bound to one location.
And then, if you have to travel or work somewhere far from your dedicated workspace, you can still keep your productive workflow going.
Which brings me to my other tip…
Tip #3: Figure Out Your Work Flow
Some people like to batch their activities and do only similar work on one day.
Some people like to alternate between tasks not to get bored or distracted.
I personally like to play an hour of World of Warcraft once I finish writing a project before sitting down and editing it.
You see, we’re all different and have different workflow preferences.
The key here is to find the workflow that works for you and your lifestyle.
Don’t look at other people for the right or wrong way to work and be productive. You can look at them for tips and advice, but take it all with a grain of salt.
Even my tips here today!
For the longest time, I thought that waking up at 5 AM to start your workday and then using a batching system will be the secret sauce to my success.
But it turns out that I’m not an early bird and waking up at 5 AM makes me miserable, 7 AM is much more human, and it’s still dark outside in the winter!
And I also learned that batching is not for me, as I get bored and uninspired when I’m stuck doing the same thing over and over again.
I’m way better alternating between tasks as I don’t find it challenging to switch gears, and it makes me feel more refreshed each time I switch activities.
So, don’t just think that only one thing guarantees you the ultimate productivity.
Only the workflow that works personally for you will make you productive, nothing else.
Tip #4: Remove Yourself From Your Work
It’s good advice for any freelancer, as it makes the rejection easier.
But it’s also great for your productivity.
If you’re feeling like a failure this particular morning, it doesn’t mean that your work that day has to be a failure.
The same goes if you’ve just heard bad news from your client that they want to make changes on the project or that they didn’t like something you’ve done for them.
It can be de-motivating, and it can ruin your whole day’s plans as you feel like shit now, so why even bother to do anything else productive?!
To avoid that, separate yourself from your work.
I know that this can be hard to accomplish for writers and creatives in general, but trust me, it will help to be more productive.
Think of yourself as a businessman/woman, someone who’s just doing their job, selling products, aka your art (services if you prefer).
Your illustrations, blog posts, articles, logo’s and everything else you create for your clients are not part of you.
They’re the products that you produce and sell to other people.
Not every vase in Target is cute, and not everyone is going to like that, but it doesn’t mean that Target sucks and that they don’t know how to make and sell pretty vases!
And the award for the worst metaphor goes to…. *drum roll*
But in all seriousness:
Don’t take your work personally, and you’ll see how much better you’ll be when it comes to being productive while working.
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An Average Day Of A Freelance Writer Revealed
Now, let’s talk about my personal schedule and how my day looks like as a freelance writer.
I know that’s why you came here and that you’re curious about getting a peek in someone else’s day…
I’m exactly the same!
So, my average day looks like this:
7 AM: Wake up
My alarm goes off, making me jump as I’m a jumpy cat when someone interrupts my sleep.
I turn on the light in my room, put on clothing, and head straight to the bathroom for my morning skincare.
Don’t even stop to think if you’re doing the right thing here; just do it.
7.30 AM: Breakfast + chill time
By 7.30 AM, I’m sitting with my breakfast in front of my computer, with Youtube tap open.
I’ll usually watch one video for 10-20 minutes while I eat, and this way, I get to catch up with my favorite creators.
8.00 AM: Journaling time
Once I’m done with my breakfast, I open my journaling notes, and I spend about 30 minutes each day just writing things down.
Some days it’s personal stuff that’s bothering me, that I need to get out of my head before I start my day.
But most of the time is work things, just random ideas and thoughts that rummage in my head, not allowing me to feel that sweet peace we’re all craving so badly.
So, I have to get them out to my journal, or I’m not going to be able to concentrate.
8.30 AM: Time for Stoics and to-do list
This is when I sit down to read my daily Stoic passage, and then I write my quick to-do list in my bullet journal, and I’m ready to start the day.
8.45 AM: Sit down to work
I quickly check my work email to see if there is anything urgent for me to do, like edits from clients or new briefs.
After that, I like to dedicate the first half of my day to writing.
So, I sit down to write content for clients, which is always my priority. I write emails for my list as well as blog posts and Medium posts.
10 AM: First break
I need a break around this time, so I walk around the house, stretching my legs and occupy my mind with other things to give myself a break.
I recently started reading Medium posts, just catching up on the articles from my favorite writers.
10.30 AM: Back to work
I’m back to writing.
12 PM: Matcha time
This is the time when I like to finish my writing and start switching to other work activities.
But before that, I make myself a matcha latte and grab a small snack if I’m feeling famished.
Then, back to work, finishing off edits, outlining the content, and stuff like that.
1-1.20 PM: Lunch
It doesn’t always happen at this time, but my lunch break is always either around 1 PM or 3 PM. And that is usually my last meal of the day.
4 PM: My mind is fried, work is over
I spend my afternoon on the tasks that don’t require too much brainpower, as I find that my brain is pretty shit at anything else when I spend the first half of the day writing.
4 PM is usually the time I clock out and go chill and relax.
I might play some World of Warcraft here or go for a walk or sit on my computer, not knowing what to do when I don’t have to work.
Yes, I know, the life of a single, child-free young woman is a dream not many can fathom.
6 PM: Personal project time
Around this time, I make myself a cup of tea, put on some jazz music, and sit down to work on my personal project for a bit.
And yes, I’m going to be an asshole and not tell you what that personal project is!
You know why?
Because it’s personal!
7.30 PM: Evening Routine Time
This is the time I cherish the most in my day.
I take a shower, do my skincare, put lotion on, light a candle, and prepare for bed.
9 PM: Bed Time
I get into my bed around this time, sometimes earlier.
But I don’t go to sleep right away.
I spend one or two hours reading a book or catching up on my favorite Youtube creators.
But by 11 PM, I’m dead asleep.
Not Everyday Is The Same Though
I’m going to be honest here:
Not every day of mine looks like this.
This is just the average day, but I do have 2-3 days a week when my schedule is different.
Today, for example, the moment I’m done writing this post, I’m going to head to meet my friend for a coffee.
It will break my usual writing routine, as I’ll get back home in the afternoon, and because it’s my mom’s birthday, I’m not going to sit down to work on anything else today.
That’s the beauty of freelancing and working for yourself, as you get to choose which days you follow what structure.
Some days, I work longer because I took a break in the middle of the day.
Some days I work less because I have to leave the house, go to the meetings, and do errands. Then, I took the day out of my weekend when I catch up on work.
Flexibility is the key here.
And I know that not many people like this aspect of freelancing.
I also know that many people tend to stick to a way more strict schedule than I do.
But I think it’s crucial to find the rhythm that works for you and your lifestyle.
I don’t have kids or a significant other, so I don’t have to worry about anything other than my schedule.
So, I know it makes it easier for me to be flexible.
But you shouldn’t be hard on yourself even if your schedule is not always ironclad.
Why It’s Important To Learn From Failure
I don’ want to sound like a broken record here, but hear me out:
Your daily routine working from home will depend on many different factors, and you’ll have to use the trial and error method to find the thing that works for you.
It took me more than two years to figure out a productive routine that makes me a happy, functioning human being.
So, don’t be afraid to experiment and try different routines until you find the right one.
It takes lots of trial and error to find the right things in life and the worst thing you can do is avoid experimenting because you don’t like to feel uncomfortable.
And here you have it – my best productivity tips and a look in a day of a freelancer, unfiltered!
I’m genuinely a hoe for self-improvement and productivity hacks and all that shit, and I love getting a peek into other people’s days.
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So, I hope you found value in today’s post, and maybe you found some golden nuggets that will make you more productive!
Want more of me? Then let’s connect on Instagram! I love chatting with you over on my DMs, or if you want to hear me ramble and rant about pop culture and life in general, head over to my podcast, The FOXY SOUL Show.