Creating the Ideal Freelancing Work Week

As a freelance designer, your work schedule should ideally allow you to take the occasional afternoon off to relax with a good book or to spend more time with your children. However, the more realistic situation many freelancers face is working late evenings, early mornings and the occasional weekend.

Typically, this unpredictable schedule occurs more from a lack of proper planning than from a work overload. Many hours exist in the day and, as a design business owner, you must learn to efficiently utilize them to complete work tasks within a normal schedule to still have time to unwind at the end of each day. Here are tips for achieving this ideal schedule.

Prepare for Unmotivated Days

While you may love this career path enabling you to use your creative mind, times will arrive when you’d rather sleep all day than turn on your computer. Even if you’re able to drag yourself from bed, days like that are typically highly unproductive. To ensure you’re still able to complete all required projects within the work week while having the occasional unmotivated day, you must plan ahead.

Typically, the most unproductive work week days are Monday and Friday when you’re either recovering from or gearing up for the weekend. As such, set goals to be highly motivated on mid-week days to compensate for lost hours at other times. This can create a more ideal freelancing situation where you’ll avoid working on evenings and weekends because you’ve preplanned for the unmotivated curveballs that’ll come your way.

Avoid Housework and Personal Errands

A main reason many designers run short on time during the work week is by allowing housework and personal errands to take priority. When you work from home, it’s very tempting to do a few loads of laundry or run to the grocery store. However, these small tasks accumulate to become major time wasters and ultimately reduce your business profits.

As you would with a normal 9 to 5 job, save housekeeping tasks and personal errands for evenings and weekends. Although you may think you’re saving time by completing these non-work projects during prime working hours, you’re only damaging your productivity in the long-term.

Here are a few tips for avoiding non-work duties during working hours:

  • Write down each non-work duty that comes to mind to avoid it clouding your focus on design projects.
  • If you must run errands during a work day, only do so after your work projects are complete.
  • End each weekend by completing errands for the upcoming week.
  • Inform your spouse and children that, unless under strict conditions, you'll no longer be running errands for them during work hours.

Remember Business Duties

Often, the tasks that derail the schedules of most designers are overlooked business duties such as invoicing and finance tracking. Unsurprisingly, these are also the duties most designers dread. However, by incorporating them as a necessary portion of your weekly schedule, you’ll be more likely to get them done rather than allowing them to pile up and become unmanageable.

Typically, the end of the work week is the best time for invoicing. This is the ideal time since your projects will be wrapped up and you’ll have received all payments for that week. Completing all invoicing duties at one time will also prevent you from spending more time than necessary each day backtracking through your invoicing. This post offers a list of great invoicing and business related programs to simplify these often tedious processes.

While you likely began a freelance design career to hone your creative talents and gain more scheduling freedom, these benefits won’t happen unless you develop a reliable and functional working system. By understanding your personal working style and catering project completions to that style, you’ll encounter fewer scheduling frustrations and will also be rewarded with more time off.

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