We often discuss during our free webinar training, why setting a daily business schedule is pivotal to success. After all, there’s so much to do and not enough time to do it. Before we know it, we get burned out from working long hours without taking any breaks. The result of working too often and too hard is that most of the work doesn’t get accomplished and if it does, it’s not quality work. The point of developing an online business is to make money, but not at the expense of your sanity. Contrary to many people’s belief, not everyone has to work day in and day out to succeed. It is possible to take control of your schedule and still develop a profitable business. Check out ways to break away from the 9-5 mindset and still accomplish everything you need to without becoming a classic workaholic.
1. Pretend you are going to the office daily
One way to stick to a schedule is by pretending you’re going to the office every day. Wonolo recommends setting up a schedule and sticking to it. If you plan to work long hours, that’s fine, but set some boundaries so that it doesn’t become a regular habit.
You can’t let the comfort of home prevent you from developing a, “going to the office” mindset every morning, evening, or night that you begin working.
While some jobs in the gig economy require a trip to the office or workplace, others do not. Even though you are at home, you should designate an office-like area of your home, own a quality computer, and have fast reliable internet service.
If you have a family or roommates, make sure they know that interruptions should be kept to a minimum while you are work. You can only keep to your schedule if you treat your home working hours as if you are in an office setting.
2. Know what you’re doing during work hours
Are you monitoring your time while you’re working? Due reminds business owners that they should be mindful of what they’re doing and if it’s worth the time they’re spending. If you’re doing something that isn’t going to help your business in the long run, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
Telling yourself that you’re working isn’t good enough. If you want to adhere to a proper schedule, you need to break it down. When will you check email? When will you plan? When will you do a certain type of work? Outlining this is great because it keeps you from spending too much time on one area and not enough time on the next. For me, I’ve noticed it’s easiest when all hours have a goal. It’s especially handy because I often find myself with my nose too close to the grindstone. Meaning, I forget to take time and focus on the larger picture.
3. Give your best time to your most important project
LifeHacker offers excellent advice on why you should give your best time to the most critical tasks at hand. It gets challenging prioritizing what needs to get done first. By providing your most valuable time to the most important tasks, you’ll find it easier to focus on needs to get done.
What’s the most important thing you need to work on today? Whatever it is, give it your best work time.
Depending on your individual situation, your “best work time” might be:
The time when your energy is highest
The time when you are least likely to be interrupted by an urgent request from a client or supervisor
The time when you are least likely to be interrupted by a partner or children
The one chunk of time that hasn’t already been allocated to meetings
Whenever possible, work on your most important project before you start working on less important projects. That way, you’ll be more likely to complete your most important project by its most important deadline. However, depending on your schedule and chronotype, you might be better off working on a “medium-important” project in the morning before devoting two or three hours to your most important project in the afternoon.
4. Decide how often to work
Similar to #1, Wonolo asks business owners to ask themselves how often they’d like to work. They should set business hours and select which days of the week they’d like to work. Control your schedule so that it doesn’t control you.
If you don’t control your schedule, your schedule will soon control you.
As you build a system to manage the time you’re going to work, you need to make the most important decision. How often will you work? A flexible routine is both a blessing and a curse for gig economy workers.
It’s easy to take less jobs than you’d ideally want, or become overwhelmed with too many projects. Instead of finding yourself in one extreme or the other, set a frequency beforehand.
Will you work seven days a week? Four days a week? Forty hours, no more and no less? How many hours a day you work will ultimately depend on how many opportunities and clients you have and how much money you want to make.
Decide your boundaries ahead of time.
5. Take breaks
To prevent burn out, as we mentioned earlier on in this article, LifeHacker suggests taking more breaks. It’s essential to find a balance; otherwise, things won’t get done, or you’ll work so much that you’re exhausted.
Maybe you’re a Pomodoran. Maybe you’re a postprandial walker. Maybe you like to take some time after lunch to catch up on the latest episode of whatever (another benefit of working from home). Don’t get so caught up in your work that you forget to take breaks—but don’t get so caught up in your breaks that you forget to do your work.
A lot of work-from-homers wonder if they should use their work time to get household chores done. I tend to avoid doing chores during my workday—from a freelancer perspective, it takes up too much time that could go towards paying gigs—but I will admit that on the odd day when you accidentally spill lunch down the front of your shirt, it’s a relief to be able to change your clothes and start a load of laundry immediately, before the stain sets in.
It’s the immediacy of working from home, for me, that makes it so effective. If you need to do something, whether that’s toss a shirt into the wash or go for a walk to clear your head or respond to a family member’s urgent text, you can do it. Likewise, if you want to tackle that big project first thing in the morning or late in the evening or simply for two focused, uninterrupted hours in the afternoon, you can do it. Working from home gives you the freedom to create a schedule that works for you, so use these tips to structure your own work-from-home workday—and if these suggestions don’t work for you, make adjustments until you create a workday that does.
6. Try to get most of your work done at the beginning of the week
If possible, Freedom to Freelance suggests trying to get the majority of your work done at the beginning of the week. Do this, and you’ll have more time at the end of the week to wrap up things you didn’t get done earlier in the week or ideally, have some time off!
I used to work for a company that allowed their employees to work four ten-hour workdays during the summer so they could enjoy a three-day weekend every week. I dreaded actually working those ten-hour days because I hated that job, but I love the idea when it’s applied to the freelance life!
Working longer days earlier in the week can free you up to kick off your weekend early when Friday rolls around and you’re feeling totally drained. This is a great way to take advantage of feeling refreshed and ready to go at the beginning of the week, which means you’ll use your work time more efficiently instead of frittering it away on social media.
Longer weekends also give you more opportunities to travel or make time for other activities that are hard to squeeze in during the traditional two-day weekend.
Just be sure to schedule in regular breaks throughout the day if you plan to frontload your workweek. Working for ten hours straight without time to move around and let your brain unwind isn’t healthy or productive for anyone!
7. Stick to a ‘stop work’ time
Invoice Ninja tells us how essential it is to have a ‘stop work’ time, which means you need to set some boundaries. If all you’re doing is working, then your relationships and physical and mental health are going to suffer. Try to figure out a way to stick to a schedule without deviating from it.
A fast way to reach burnout is by working all hours of the day. At the beginning of your freelance career you might need to work more hours than you would prefer but once established, working long hours can be extremely counterproductive. It can also be damaging to mental and physical health, as well as your relationships.
To do: Choose a set hour each day when you finish work and close the door to your home office. This will help you to define the boundaries of your workday which can increase your focus and productivity. Set hours also help you differentiate between work life and home life, which is especially beneficial if you work from home.
Join us during our next free webinar training and learn about new mindsets and techniques to apply so you can become a successful and profitable freelancer.