Part of the joy in being a freelancer is the freedom that my job offers.
I have the ability to begin work at whenever time suits my body clock. Since I tend wake up when the sun says goodbye to the moon, I gravitate toward creating and working at night.
As a Creator, sometimes my urge is to write at two am—I love being able to seize the words and the inspiration whenever they may come.
I am grateful that in being my own business, I don’t have to wake up at six am, drink filtered coffee on a timer, get on a bus and sit behind a cubicle in polished shoes all day—this might just be my own personal hell.
Part of me enjoys rebelling against schedules, calendar and structure because I march to my own beat and work to my desired clock.
If I don’t clock in—I slap my own wrist. Noone else gets to do this.
As a freelancer, accountability is a necessary part of success; without it, there’s the potential of not much getting done.
During the first year of running my own business, my schedule was fairly unstructured, flexible, relaxed and fluid.
Then about two months ago, I suddenly hit a new level of busy.
I started to burn out.
I burned out from always being at the call of my email and notification dings; from a lack of time for self care; and from not putting enough time towards personal relationships.
I became overwhelmed.
When we get overwhelmed, we give away our power.
In struggling to find enough time, I realized that what I had been doing wasn’t working for me anymore.
It wasn’t supporting me.
During this time, I was taking the CareerHearted Professional Course and came across a lesson called “taking time for time management.”
I learned that by multitasking, we temporarily lower our IQ by 10 points.
My life is about multitasking—I’m fairly certain that I multitask in my sleep.
Since the ability to perform many tasks at once seems like a strength, I never thought that this would be a weakness in running my business.
During the past month I’ve upped my scheduling game, and I now can see how multitasking made my life chaotic and unfocused.
While taking the course, I learned that just one small interruption (checking an email, answering a “quick question” or a text message) can cause us to lose a minimum of eleven minutes of productivity in completing a task.
In a world where we are constantly glued to screens full of distractions and dings, this means that we are constantly over-stimulated. Being fed information all day long via fifteen open windows on our computer actually takes away from our efficiency.
Part of my time management success has been scheduling different extensions of my work on different days.
Just because I’m a freelancer it doesn’t mean I need to be available every moment of every day, bending and breaking to any client that comes in.
I’ve made Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays my mentoring days, Tuesdays and Thursdays I do my writing work, then I choose one day a week which is delegated to one particular client I work with for things such as Skype calls, emails and content creation.
Planning things this way allows me to be completely present in each project.
Scheduling two hour blocks of time for my personal emails means that they no longer have control over me.
I also schedule blocks of personal time. You will see me pencilling in yoga, surfing, hiking, lunches, meal prep, and free flow juicy creative time, because those things are just as important to me.
During these first few weeks of the new schedule, I’ve completed tasks I’ve procrastinated on for months.
I filed all my tax receipts for my business—color coded.
I finally wrote content for my website, finalized certain parts and then went live with it—something I had been trying to do for months.
On top of increased efficiency and productivity, scheduling myself in this way also offered a deep sense of relief.
Instead of having dozens of tasks dauntingly floating around in my head or on bits of paper and to do lists scattered around my house, it was all tangibly logged into my calendar—even with alarms in case I forgot. This allowed me to step out of anxiety and guilt and actually relax.
Since I was less stressed, my effectiveness skyrocketed.
In a backwards way, having some control over my schedule has given me more freedom than I had before.
All of the lessons I’ve learned about time management would be redundant if I didn’t also understand the extreme value of accountability with scheduling: showing up for each task and completing it is keeping an agreement.
When I keep an agreement, I’m honouring my time and energy—which solidifies a stronger relationship with myself.
The keys to successful time management are scheduling and showing up with the ability to be fully present.