A Freelancer’s Guide to Scheduling Work

Mon, Aug 3, 2009

Time Management

A Freelancer’s Guide to Scheduling Work

We freelancers are in a very unique position compared with the rest of the working world. When assigned a project, we’re able to schedule work whenever we feel like doing it. This obviously, works as an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage being you’re able to be flexible, and work at times which suit you best. The disadvantage being that without discipline you could fall into a habit of procrastinating work till the last minute, which is what a lot of us do from time to time. Other than having extreme discipline with yourself whilst freelancing, there are other ways that can help you make the most of this gift of deciding when you work. Proper scheduling of work is one way which can help you.

Choose appropriate working times

This is where you’re going to have to make a pretty important decision with regards to when you do the bulk of your freelance work. Now, there are multiple ways you can tackle choosing a general working time when freelancing. A lot of freelancers choose times which are close to standard working times (9am to 5pm), but others find that this isn’t when they are most productive. I know a few freelancers who choose to work near midnight, because it is at that time which they can be most efficient and productive, and really pump out some good quality work. You’ll need to figure out from experience which one suits you. Here’s how I see it. If you’re super disciplined, and have little problem with procrastinating work, then it isn’t much of a problem for you, and you can work at midnight if you want. If, however, you are the person who tends to procrastinate a lot, then it is best if you try to get yourself into a 9am to 5pm routine where you really concentrate and focus and pumping out good work during normal working hours. Once this becomes the norm for you, I think it becomes much easier for you to work during rather unorthodox times as well, so you can flip back and forth. Keep in mind though, that you don’t want to ruin your sleeping patterns either, so don’t work too far into the night if you get up at 7am every morning.

Use a diary

Having all your work written down with timings showing how long you’re going to take for each section of your projects really helps mentally. Not only does it easily allow you to keep track of all your work, but by having it written down actually makes it psychologically easier for you to approach your work and get down to it.

Correct timings

Always allow yourself a good amount of time to get each section of your projects done. Don’t give yourself too much time, as you may see yourself wasting a lot of time, but don’t give yourself too little time either, or you could be sacrificing the quality of work produced in the process.

Breaks and Working Hours

You also need to take into consideration that you’re going to need breaks in between working periods, so try to have set times (like you would if you worked a usual 9-5) where you would take a break. Also, try not to work so many hours during  a day. If 9-5 doesn’t suit you, go with another time bracket which you think will work better for you. Never though, extend the time beyond 8 hours, as I really count that as the maximum working time bracket. You don’t actually produce anymore work than if you worked a few less hours, because actual productive time throughout an entire day for employees and freelancers alike is approximately between 2-4 hours (unless you’re superman).

So there you have it, a few tips to get you on your way, and help you schedule in your daily work  hours and keep up with incoming work.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 42 posts on Freelance Apple.

Taiyab Raja is a web designer and entrepreneur who runs an interesting, captivating freelance blog, designs awesome websites for 6creations.com, and in his spare time owns noobs at Halo.

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5 Responses to “A Freelancer’s Guide to Scheduling Work”

  1. Scott Radcliff Says:

    I can personally attest to the effectiveness of setting a schedule for your workday as a freelancer. I started laying out my projects, and what times I was going to work on each one. It was working great. I wasn’t overwhelmed, I had time to think about what I was doing, and I even had time for the extras like reading this blog and others.

    In a moment or complete stupidity I decided that I didn’t need all that scheduling, and that I could just work on whatever needed my attention. In a matter of days, I was knee deep in stress and missed deadlines.

    Maybe it is just my work process, but I found scheduling my work day (usually in 2 hour blocks) is the most effective.

  2. Taiyab Says:

    Very well said Scott, 2 hour blocks are the way to go, as usually after that time, your concentration starts to drop severely. Also, without having everything in front of you, written down, you can’t grasp what needs to be done well enough (in my personal experience).

    Glad you’ve taught yourself a valuable lesson in not giving up on schedules.

  3. Daquan Wright Says:

    One thing I will be exercising is creating wireframes for any website I do in the future or mock-ups of any program I write in a programming language. I definitely think writing down the details helps, whether it be on paper or computer.

    Time management and financial management are extremely important and both matter whether it be an in-house job or otherwise. Choosing times to spend on sections of a project and figuring out the scopes of your projects is always a good idea too. I find that a HUGE distraction for me is wanting to surf the web….this has to be at least the number two distraction for designers/developers. Although I find many interesting blogs for stuff I like, you have to discipline yourself enough to work and avoid that as well. I find that taking short breaks is a great idea. Perhaps a six hour schedule with an hour break between each three hour sections of your working schedule could work? You don’t work nonstop at an in-house job, so you definitely shouldn’t do it when you have opportunity to break when you want. As long as you set yourself up with plenty of time, set a flexible schedule, and focus on what needs to be done you’ll do fine.

    I myself do not have a lot of projects so I take it casually working a few hours a day. My first goal is to establish my portfolio/blog and from there add in my projects. After that I plan on creating another website….perhaps more of a community in tune with it as well.

    Nice article.

  4. Kelly Thomas Says:

    There are also many advantages for a freelancer. A person who is self employed can usually choose their own work schedule. Income may be greater than when working for an employer. A freelancer is his or her own boss and has the freedom to work independently, usually from the comfort of home. Freelancers also have the opportunity to pick and choose which jobs are of interest.


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