Mastering Your Schedule: A Freelancer’s Guide to Productivity

Mastering Your Schedule: A Freelancer’s Guide to Productivity

In the midst of covid, I faced what a million others had, and found myself at a crossroads. I could either continue being part of the corporate world, or strike out on my own, and start my own freelance practice.

and so, I became a Freelancer – An independent consultant – a digital nomad – a remote worker – and! an entrepreneur!
With God’s grace, and the support of a young mentor, Chhavi, I found the right course and guidance to get me started.

Some of my important considerations, apart from the finances were the flexible hours and the comfort of working from home, or working from anywhere (frankly), which I would be able to enjoy as an independent freelancer.

However, within months I found that, without a structured schedule, discipline and some good habits, it was easy to fall into a spiral of procrastination and inefficiency.

As a freelancer, reclaiming control over your time is paramount for productivity and success.

Here is a practical guide to fixing your schedule and maximizing your output from the comfort of your home office – These are the core habits that have helped me stay productive as a freelancer, while embracing a lifestyle far different than the one I had as a corporate gal! 9-9 X 6 into drama!

Mastering Your Schedule - being productive as a freelancer working from home or cafe or any location

7 Tips to be Productive as a Freelancer who Works from Home

It is important to have set hours – so you, your mind, and your family, friends and clients know when you are available and where you are not.
This is also important if you are a serial procrastinator, like me! This defined schedule ensure that you are not having to use your will-power to motivate you to get up and sit at your desk. Rather, you make it into a habit which you follow without any thought or resistance.

So most guides will tell you to create one designated place which is dedicated solely for working purposes. But what if you are like me? A moody Gemini, who values comfort OVER discipline?! Also, what if you want to travel and have a workcation? Then the habit of creating multiple spaces that are comfortable and meant for you to work in/from, will be a convenient habit to have.

It is important to know what your important tasks and deliverables are for the day. As a Freelancer, it is easy to really get deep into a topic as you work. Which is great as it means you are learning and upskilling, however, it also means that you have not completed all the tasks for that day.

Different people prefer different techniques to plan their day and manage their time – I will say, use what works for you, and then just use it everyday, without fail!

You can use a paper diary to plan, or digital platforms like Notion and Asana – I use all 3, and sometimes an excel sheet too for good measure.

The Pomodoro technique and time blocking are the most often used as they help you focus on one task and complete it with efficiency and quality. This I find is a better approach than multi-tasking.

Here is a list of tools that I have personally used and found helpful as a Freelancer.

This is GOLD!
As difficult as it may be, do not have a YouTube video or podcast playing while you are working.
If you can, put your phone on silent, or at least switch OFF the gazillion notifications.

and, my favorite, use an APP like FOREST – which helps you focus and NOT use your phone (app) or open distracting sites (laptop extension) during the time you have set to grow your plant.

I love the fact that as a user of the app, I am contributing to the actual planting of trees in the world, and as a plant lover, I cannot bear to let my virtual plant die – so basically, when I use the app, I actually do the thing I intend to do, and do not click away to anything else. A win-win in my opinion.

This is pretty self-explanatory – Take regular breaks so your brain can recharge and refocus. Sometimes we go off into rabbit holes or lose track of the purpose of the task, or sometimes, our eyes just start to glaze over! Taking a short break is helpful.

Remember – The Key is a SHORT break, and DO NOT pick up your phone to scroll social media or that super interesting book, or start just one more episode of that series!!! because, trust me, and I have done this more times that I can laugh it off, you WILL lose track of time, and WORK will NOT seem as important as the PLOT of the BOOK or SHOW.

Schedule short breaks for stretching, walking, or other forms of exercise to keep your mind and body refreshed is another super important thing. I found this helps with aches, pains and stiffness that happen over time when you keep sitting in one position.
One form of fun exercise and break that I am now able to take as I am alone in my space is to dance to a nice peppy number – Its fun and it warms up all my joints! Another win-win – Don’t you agree?

As a freelancer, who works for herself, and is her own boss, it is very easy to get into the groove and lose track of time. Honestly, when you are enjoying yourself, can you really blame yourself? But here, it is important to stick to that schedule you defined in point 1.

These 7 things have helped me stay productive, complete my work on the daily, and enjoy my days, including weekdays.

These habits have allowed me to do 2 of my favorite things in the middle of any day –

  1. Go meet a friend and chatter!
  2. Sit in the Garden and read a book, daydream or just sleep in the sun!

and, my FAVORITE – I can travel anywhere, and still ensure I do my work, while also enjoying new experiences!

Photo:Matthew Henry /freerangestock.com
happy friends on camper van roof
Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com

28 comments found

  1. I have set up space for my work time and make sure no one disturbs me. So hopefully I’m halfway to being successful. Hehehe! On a serious note, I agree with all the points you made.

  2. The guide offers invaluable insights for freelancers striving for productivity. It’s a reminder of how crucial it is to balance discipline with flexibility in freelance life. The tips on minimizing distractions and taking breaks resonated with me. This article is a must-read for anyone navigating the freelance world, seeking to enhance their work-life balance.

  3. Your tips are helpful for everyone who struggle for productivity. You tube, reels, podcast distract easily. I am not yet working from home category but still your tips are helpful.

    1. Thanks Neeta 🙂 Distractions are a bane, no matter your age or work situation – I find I realise an hour later that I am not doing what I was supposed to be doing in that hour! lol! Love SM however. this is the reality of my struggles too 🙂

    1. Im glad you found it to be useful! Yes, in an office environment it is easier to be disciplined than when working from home (whether job or freelancer).

  4. Bang On! As a freelancer who loves to read and write as per my mood time management is of utmost importance to me. I am also a Math Tutor and have to schedule my day around my classes, my children, my home, and my love for reading and writing. I follow most of the tips mentioned by you.

  5. This is a very relevant article for everyone, either a freelancer or an employee. We need to balance our work and personal lives. Declusive workspaces and finishing within deadlines are definitely important for everyone to boost productivity too.

  6. Personally, over years of experience, I find freelancing has no beginning and no end. It just continues non-stop. But having a workspace does help, as does cordoning off the outside world. I like to make a checklist of the day, so that things don’t destabilise the day through.

  7. Planning a day ahead helps to improve productivity. Usually, I plan my day first thing in the morning

  8. ‘Without a structured schedule, discipline and some good habits’ is what most corporate people fail to understand about remote/freelance professionals I feel. They’re looked down upon and there’s a negative connotation attached to it despite the growth and change. But I’m glad to read this post which I’m sure will help break many myths and even be helpful to those thinking about switching or those actively seeking or wanting to upskill their freelance game. This was a very helpful and practical guide and read. I myself learned a few things, so thank you for sharing it with us. 

  9. I’m a fellow freelancer here and I do follow few of what you’ve mentioned here. The forest one sounds interesting which I haven’t but would love to explore

  10. We all bore the brunt of working from home during the pandemic with no defined work hours or even a space where you could work without distractions or a good work-life balance. Coming from you a freelancer yourself, these tips are gold if one wishes to succeed.

  11. As a Content writer and blogger, time management is utmost important to me. I am also copywriter and I have to deal with clients. I sheduled my time accordingly. If I will not do so , i will not able to complete my work on time. Sometimes I feel like I am procrastinating but try to fix again.

  12. Anything is better for me than being in the corporate world… I disliked it so much! It’s great that you have found your happy space and that you are becoming more efficient with the experience you have gained. The tips you have shared are all relevant and important.

  13. Great and insightful tips and I feel not just for freelancers but for people in general who wants to increase productivity and success ratio.

  14. This article is a gem! As a freelancer, I’ve struggled with productivity but these tips are game-changers. Setting clear work hours and boundaries has made a huge difference in my productivity.

  15. Being a freelancer for quite a long time now I can sense the importance of the points that you have discussed over here. This game changing tips are going to take you a long way in the freelance world and you are doing wonderful . God Bless you and keep rocking.

  16. You had me nodding along right through your post, Ishita. I began freelancing decades back when it was considered more of a “between jobs” thing. 100% on setting boundaries. Most people think that just because you are at home, you are free. GAH!!

  17. As a freelancer, concentration is the biggest challenge. Of course, I would say that it depends on the work you do. If you like what you do, distractions can easily be minimised.

  18. Thank you for sharing such valuable insights on mastering schedules as a freelancer! Your guide is incredibly helpful and provides practical tips for enhancing productivity. As someone navigating the world of freelancing, I truly appreciate the guidance you’ve provided. Looking forward to implementing these strategies and optimizing my workflow.

  19. I’m yet to being the discipline in my schedule as it keeps changing according to my kid’s timings. Distraction and social media are two things I need to tackle with on priority. Thanks for these tips!

  20. Great tips and I think they are equally useful for people in the corporate world as we also face issues such as procrastination. These days I am trying encourage my 14 year old to manage himself and his time well.

  21. I am a freelancer too. Working for a news agency and working on my personal blog too. I still struggle with handling the tasks and home chores. But as you said, scheduling them is the key

  22. Thanks for sharing such valuable tips for all beginners or the ones who lack productivity due to indiscipline. My distraction make me linger a lot and my tbr list grows. So I will definitely use your tips to increase my productivity.

  23. I absolutely love being a freelancer and have no intentions of changing that! Your tips are useful.

Leave comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.

error: Content is protected !!