So, what's a professional freelancer schedule like? I answer your questions about what I do in a day.
Even when we're not in the middle of a global pandemic, I periodically get questions about what my schedule is like as a professional freelancer. However, since this whole COVID-19 thing has changed so many lives, I've been getting even more questions about my schedule.
It's important to note that my professional freelancer schedule has evolved heavily over the years. In the beginning, I spent much more time writing than I do now. A combination of higher rates, and changing lifestyle goals and needs have created a situation where I don't have to work as much.
Or at least, I don't have to focus as much on paying clients and I can work on other projects. Technically, I always have something to do.
My Basic Professional Freelancer Schedule
So, what do I do in a day? Well, it sort of depends on the day. I use batching as a technique to help me manage my productivity. But if you want to break things down into hours, basically you get:
- 6:30 am to 8:00 am: Wake up, meditate, get out of bed. Make Crio Bru. Do some yoga while the Crio steeps. Generally get moving.
- 7:30 am to 9:00 am: Start work. This might be writing for clients, interviewing sources, doing research, answering emails, whatever needs doing. In some cases, it might actually be working on a project that doesn't involve clients and instead involves growing a business.
- 11:30 am to 1:30 pm: Stop work and exercise, or get dressed, or attend meetings. Or whatever it is I need to be doing. For the most part, I've blocked out 8 am to 12 pm on my calendar for working — usually the heavy writing.
- Afternoon: I almost never do work in the afternoon. Usually, the afternoon is reserved for meetings, lunches, getting my nails/hair/lashes done, meeting up with friends, working out, whatever. Sometimes I interview sources or guest on podcasts. Occasionally (in “regular” times), I take the laptop downtown to work on email or other low-concentration activities.
- 4 pm to 9 pm: This is dinnertime, evening activities, or whatever. Depending on the day, I might make dinner (sometimes with my son), or I've already prepared it and I just need to get it out of the crockpot or order delivery. Sometimes I go out with friends. Sometimes I work on other things, like schoolwork or finish up some project-related task. Occasionally, I watch TV or a movie.
- 9 pm to 10 pm: This is when I start winding down. Go for a walk maybe. Stretch. Play the piano for a little while. Pretend like I'll ever learn the guitar. If I'm watching TV, maybe fit in one more episode.
- By 11 pm: Usually by 11 pm, though, I'm in bed and probably asleep. Most nights I'm in bed by 10 pm, I read on my Kindle until I fall asleep.
What about weekends?
My weekend schedule isn't super different from my weekday schedule, really. I don't usually do paid client work on the weekend, though, so I might lay in bed for a few hours, reading for pleasure. I like using the weekends to work on my business, do school-related things (I'm almost done with my MBA, so that's almost off the schedule), write ebooks, or, right now, work on campaign-related stuff.
Sometimes on Sunday, I go to brunch. During nice weather, I visit the Farmer's Market on Saturday.
In the summer, I often hike or camp on the weekend. My son and I might do some sort of daytime activity together. In the evening on the weekend, going to the movies or meeting with friends is common.
Most Sundays my son and I go to my parents' house for dinner and an evening of board or card games.
On Sunday, I look at my week ahead and see where I need to adjust my schedule. Taking some planning time on Sunday lets me get a feel for what days require a crockpot dinner, or which days are stuffed with things like doctor's appointments. so I might need to shift some article writing to a different day.
Flexibility is built in
As you probably noticed, flexibility is built into my professional freelancer schedule. I almost never set an alarm. That's why my morning is so fluid. Sometimes I wake up at 6:30 am and sometimes I sleep as late as 8:00 am. It really depends on when I made it to bed, and how well I slept. But I don't force myself to get up.
I also have a lot of flexibility in my afternoons and evenings. Usually, I'm available if my son wants to hang out (not terribly often — dude is 17). Additionally, because he drives and has his own car, I don't have to worry about getting him to school or even many of his appointments and activities. He's a responsible young man, and almost never needs me to get him going. There are days when his class schedule has him up and out of the house before I'm awake.
Having a flexible schedule is a huge advantage. Between flexibility and batching, and a little advance planning, I can usually meet my deadlines. And, there are times like this week, when I can arrange things so that I don't have to do client work some days at all.
What About My COVID-19 Schedule?
I'm fortunate. My COVID-19 schedule is basically the same — except I don't have out-of-the-house commitments. Instead of attending rotary lunches and in-person meetings, I can do things at home and not even get dressed until I go to the food basket at 4 pm.
In fact, that's the biggest change to my schedule. I've been volunteering at the local food basket in place of a woman who is high-risk for COVID-19. It's the first time in 15 years that I've had to be at the same place five days a week, at the same time each day.
However, as things get closer to opening and as my client schedule and different projects are picking up, I'll have to scale back my involvement. So, I'm training people to take my place.
But, really, the pandemic has freed me up because I don't have to go to as many places and do as many things outside the home. I'm extremely lucky and privileged to be in this position.
Why I Love Freelancing
The flexibility and freedom are the main reasons I love what I do. My professional freelancer schedule wasn't always like this. When my son was little, I had a different schedule that included getting him ready for school in the mornings. When I first started out, and I didn't command higher rates, I had to do a lot more work. I couldn't get away with writing one or two articles a day and then calling it quits for the client work.
But as I've built up my freelancing over time, and as I've been able to create a career and a lifestyle I enjoy, I've been able to change things up. I get to do more of what I want, when I want to do it.
It took time, and my schedule undergoes regular changes as my life shifts. In fact, I'm on the verge of another transition. Within a year, my son will graduate from high school and I might in another place in my life. My professional freelancer schedule may undergo another overhaul.
That's ok, though. Because of the freedom and flexibility that come with freelancing, I'm able to make changes as needed, do interesting things, and live the life I want.