People always ask about my daily freelance schedule. Here's the latest iteration of what this mess looks like.
The most common questions I get are:
The answers to the first two questions stay pretty much the same all the time. On the other hand, my daily freelance schedule is a constant work in progress. I'm always tweaking and changing, depending on what's happening in my life and where I'm at in whatever journey I'm on.
Freelancing is so great because it offers a great deal of freedom and flexibility. My current daily freelance schedule is my favorite so far — but I'm sure I can do better in the future.
My Basic Daily Freelance Schedule
What I love most about my schedule is that I don't set an alarm. The only time I set an alarm is if I have to get up ridiculously early for travel or to do morning media on the east coast.
The basic breakdown of my day looks like this:
- 6:30 – 7:00 am: Open my eyes. This is generally when I first wake up.
- 7:30 – 8:00 am: Just because I'm awake doesn't mean I get out of bed. Often, I read for an hour or so. I take it easy, read something interesting, drink water from the flask near my bed, and generally wake up slowly.
- Sometime between 8:00 and 9:00 am: This is generally when I really get moving. I try to journal, get a cup of Crio Bru, and practice yoga. I don't normally eat breakfast. However, I might eat an egg or a bowl of oatmeal if I feel especially hungry.
- Sometime between 9:00 and 9:30 am: I start work after I feel settled and ready to go. Morning is when I'm most likely to be focused, so I do work like writing client articles. Sometimes, I also engage in other projects. I don't do client writing every day, so other work, like writing op-eds for the local newspaper, arranging speakers for Plutus Voices, or working on other aspects of my business takes place during this time.
- At approximately 12:00 pm: Most of my work is usually done. If it's not, I consider this a good stopping point for a break. I eat something healthy and prepare for a workout. Or, if I have a nonprofit board meeting, I get ready to leave the house.
- 12:30 pm – 6:00 pm: This is afternoon free-for-all time. It really depends on what's on my plate for the day. Most days, I do some type of workout. I shower. Sometimes, I have board meetings. Maybe I meet a friend for lunch. This is also when I try to schedule appointments for healthcare and self-care. If I still have assignments or interviews, I finish those up. If I'm out and about, I run errands.
- 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm: Evening activities make up most of this time. Making and eating dinner, going to trivia night, engaging in volunteer work, and socializing might be part of the deal. Some nights, I stay in and watch a movie. Perhaps I practice the piano or guitar. I might also take my laptop to a low-key wine bar downtown and tackle emails, create graphics for social media, or work on other non-client projects.
- 11:00 pm: I try to be in bed by this time, with my wind-down routine beginning between 10 and 10:30. I stretch, give myself a foot massage, and read as I prepare for bed.
How I Structure My Weeks and Months as a Freelancer
A daily freelance schedule is only part of the picture. Over time, as I've increased my rates and refined my work process (check out my YouTube video on how to write faster), I've been able to structure my workweeks in a way that makes sense for me.
While I maintain some flexibility in the schedule, my aims for my schedule are as follows:
- Monday, Tuesday, and Friday: Client writing focus. I try to write between one and three articles these days. These are also days that I try to interview my sources and complete the necessary research for pieces.
- Wednesday: This is often a “catch-up” day. If I'm behind on emails, writing, or meetings, this is a day for that. I also try to schedule meetings, exploratory calls, and other “peopling” on this day.
- Thursday: Podcasting and projects. I offer freelance podcasting services. This is a time when I record podcast episodes, write show notes, and communicate with podcast guests. I also work on other projects during this time. If I am ghostwriting a book, providing video or audio content, or working on other types of projects, this is a day to work on this stuff.
- Saturday and Sunday: Relaxation and working on my own projects. These are days to go hiking, sleep in, laze about, put up seasonal decorations, or run errands. Maybe I leave Thursday evening and go camping until Sunday. Perhaps I go to brunch. And sometimes I just get up, work on one of my Kindle Vellas, or outline a book.
On top of that, I have a cadence for my month. Most of my clients don't get my assignments to me until the end of the first week of the month or the beginning of the second week of the month. This gives me some time at the beginning of the month to travel a little extra or put in extra work on my own projects.
If it's an extra busy month, I assume that I will probably need to write one or two articles on the weekend toward the middle of the month or the end of the month in order to distribute the work in a way that doesn't overwhelm me. For the most part, batching work and putting similar tasks together is a good way to make the most of your time.
Maintaining Freedom and Flexibility in My Daily Freelance Schedule
In the past, my schedule was much more rigid. I had a child at home. I was married, then I was a single mother. At the beginning of my freelance career, I had more work and lower rates. Now, almost 20 years in, I have higher rates and less work. My son is in his 20s and has his own place. There's a lot more flexibility in my schedule.
Not every day looks like this. As I write this, my week was a little weird. One of my nonprofit board meetings was moved to a different day of the week and time. I had two exploratory calls on Tuesday this week instead of Wednesday. I'm acting as a national spokesperson, and I ended up with two last-minute live radio call-ins this week.
As a result, sometimes things get moved around. Last week, my Tuesday fell apart with a family matter, so I wrote an article on Wednesday. Next week, our guest can't record on our regular Thursday podcast recording day, so we'll be recording Tuesday — which means I'll probably switch and spend Tuesday working on Thursday things and writing on Thursday instead.
I also try to schedule my personal due dates for articles at least two days before the client's due date. That way, I have some leeway if something comes up or I just don't feel like writing.
For me, the key is having a basic structure I can work within — including blocking off specific writing time — but doesn't confine me.
Depending on your personal and family circumstances, this might not work for you. With freelancing, the idea is to build a flexible schedule that works for you. What worked for me 10 years ago is not what I'm doing today.
I love freelancing because it allows me to experiment with my schedule and how I make money. It's always a work in progress, and I'm sure it will look different in another couple of years.
How do you manage your schedule?