How To Set Up Your Diary As A Freelance Writer

My first day home as a freelance writer felt like pure freedom. I could get up any time I wanted and work only started when I felt like it. It only lasted for a day because I just didn’t make any money. I needed to commit to a full work day if I was ever going to make a dent in our household expenses. Add to this the fact that my husband comes home around 3:30 PM and you can imagine the amount of frustration on his part if I only start work at that time.

Make Full Use of Those Peaceful Hours

If your household tends to be one that only rises at around 8 or 9 AM, you have a perfect window for calm writing from around 6 or 7 AM. You can enjoy the calm of the morning while everyone else is still sleeping. One of my freelance friends gets up at 3 AM to take advantage of the calm. Once she’s dropped off the kids at school, she only has a few more things to take care of and then has the rest of the day all to herself. Your sweet spot could be when everyone is off to work and school, or when everyone goes to bed.

My Ideal Writing Day

For me, the sweet spot is 6:30 AM. I try to work through social media and emails as fast as possible and plan out the day ahead. By 7 AM I’m ready to write and do so steadily until around 8:30 AM. This is usually when hubby wakes up and does his thing, so I like spending a bit of time with him before he leaves. When he goes I take care of some chores and depending on the state of the house, this usually goes until 10 or 11 AM, after which I have a shower. I work until about 12:30 and then have a quick lunch and check social media again.

By 1 PM I’m writing again and this carries on until 2:30 PM when I have a short break. I then carry on until around 5 PM. At this time, hubby is tired of watching TV and fiddling around the house and we go for a brisk walk in the park. We’re back by 6 PM and after showering, he sets off to the kitchen to whip up a delectable dish and I carry on with the writing. After dinner, I take care of the dishes and we settle down for the evening. We love watching series and movies and can binge-watch like champions.

But This All Changed When I Fell Pregnant

The Good Days

Now sleep is the top priority. I go to bed far earlier than before and find myself unable to get up until at least 8 or 9 AM. First priority is to get something into my stomach before nausea strikes and then I do a few chores (hubby is helping out with the heavier stuff). I usually start writing at around 10:30 AM and carry on until my little bean cries out for food again. I do keep snacks around so I don’t waste too much time hunting for food. Once I’m in a rhythm, I find I can write for hours on end with small pauses in between. I can write up to 6 PM without a hassle and still work in an hour of swimming during the day. But then everything just switches off and I simply can’t carry on anymore. In the beginning, my productivity lagged quite a bit because I still needed to work in a nap, sometimes two a day. Now I can go a whole day without napping.

The Tumultuous Days

I’ve recently learned that nausea, fatigue, and acid reflux work together as a team and always show up to the party together. At first, this only happened when I smelt something I had an aversion to or when I was presented with a meal that didn’t particularly agree with my little bean. Now, at 12-13 weeks, it can trigger at the drop of the hat and sometimes I find myself waking up with the toxic trio. When that happens, I just drop my head back on the pillow, eat as many dry crackers as I can stomach, and wait it out.

Sometimes I fall back asleep and other times I don’t. It’s better when I do. This can go on for hours and staring at a computer screen somehow makes it worse. There are short periods where things tend to go a bit better and I try to get as much done as possible. When the short periods of feeling “okay” are over, I simply set the laptop down again and try to sleep. Breathing exercises seem to help a lot too. My productivity really suffers on these days, but luckily I have more good days than bad.

Quick Tips to Make Full Use of Your Writing Hours

  • Take a few minutes to write down exactly what you want to accomplish the next day.
  • Allocate decent time slots to each project. If you know it takes you 30 minutes to write a 250-word piece, don’t allocate 15 minutes and try and push yourself. Burnout happens and you may not be able to keep it up the next day.
  • Try to group similar projects together. This helps you to follow the same train of thought which can make the projects go a little faster.
  • Give yourself mini breaks. This helps for those who need to eat every 2-hours (pregnant mommas!) or check on chores such as laundry and time-sensitive things. It also helps to get that circulation going again after sitting for so long.
  • When you’re done with your work day, make a list for the following day and switch off. Don’t go back and check projects unless you have to in the case of urgent edits. If it’s not urgent, it’s not worth taking time away from your family.
  • Keep tabs of projects that are due by a certain date. When you have good days and finish earlier than you thought you would, it’s a good idea to take on some of these projects. You never know when your productivity might be off again.

There are going to be days where the deadlines overlap and you find yourself working the 12-hour shifts, but those days shouldn’t be the norm. If it is, you may want to consider projects that pay a little better. Whether you’re working from home out of choice or necessity, the experience should be an enjoyable one.

So What If Freelancers Work Harder?

When you sit at your 9-to-5 and daydream about owning your business, it often pops up with images of you lazing on the beach while your employees get the job done. Or that you’re sitting in cafes across the world, sipping exotic coffees and just loafing it out. However, according to research freelancers work 6% longer hours than employed workers. There are many factors that may contribute to this, such as the ability to earn more the more you work. But it does come with a few perks.

Financial Freedom

The false sense of security created by the paycheck often results in easy access to debt. Easy access to debt could lead to frivolous spending. Before long, the debt hole squeezes consumers into that dark place where insomnia and exhaustion reign supreme. Getting out of debt when the salary remains the same is not easy and will require far more discipline than ever before. Either that or looking for another income stream.

Freelancers, on the other hand, are not burdened by the set fee. They can pick up an extra customer when needed to fill the gap and soon find themselves in a position to pay off their smaller debts. It’s also far more difficult for freelancers to qualify for debt, as there is no proof of fixed income. They need to jump through a few more hoops to get that shiny new credit card.

Mondays Don’t Suck

Freelancers have the option to get their new week going any day of the week. Their Monday could be a Sunday or Tuesday. In fact, the schedule is calculated according to the deadlines and Mondays are just not an issue anymore. In fact, Mondays may seem like a blessing to those

who have a house full of people and who head out to work. This reduces the distractions and allows freelancers to attend to their tasks more effectively. If there are no Mondays for freelancers, then every day could feel like a Friday!

You Can Work In Your PJ’s If You Want To

I don’t advocate this but after a recent spell of bone-numbing flu, I just stayed in bed. I set up office where it was warm and cozy and just worked through as much as I could, and slept when I felt I needed to. No need to first trudge into the office and prove to your boss that you feel like a ball of exposed nerve endings.

Ordinarily, I like getting up and dressing for the day. Nothing fancy most of the time, but it does make me feel like I’m “going to work” and helps stick to a routine. I just don’t tell anyone that I’ve swapped stilettos for flip flops and stokies.

When You Finalize a Tough Project, You Don’t Need That Pat on the Back

Remember the days where everyone was lining up outside the manager’s office to kiss some proverbial bootie? Yeah, that doesn’t have to happen anymore. Wrap up a project, get paid, and celebrate. The satisfaction of knowing the imaginary staircase to work appreciation no longer exists unleashes something within you that just allows you to create without borders.

Success Means Something Different

Before, success meant promotions, pay increases, and winning the office raffle. Now success means however you define it. Does it mean making millions in cash and going on numerous vacations every year? If you want it to. Does it mean better education and quality time with your children? If you want it too. Or how about finally having the time to focus on things you simply never had the time or energy for? Absolutely. The great thing about deciding what success means to you is that there is no ranking system. You’re not competing with anyone for top honors. You don’t have to “measure up” to remain relevant in your office. Who cares if you still drive that old rust bucket that you bought years ago?

You Learn to Function With Less

What you think you need and what you actually need become abundantly clear when you no longer have company benefits. For instance, I learned that the latest phone is not going to make a difference in my freelancing career. Sure, it’s pretty, but the apps I have on my phone are sufficient for me to perform my functions. I’m also not shy to pull out my outdated $50 phone from my $5 bag to make a few phone calls or reply to texts. In fact, I can see that glimmer of envy underneath the disdain in others as they carry their hefty $1,000 burdens along in their pockets.

I also know now that there is no need for me to have 50 new outfits every year. A minimalist closet somehow seems to work far better (not there yet! Still too much I’m reluctant to get rid of). I don’t care that people have seen me in that dress or outfit anymore. I like it. It looks good. It’s comfortable. Why the fuss?

You Find Yourself In the 0% Judgment Zone

The longer I’m on this journey, the more I realize that it’s not just anyone who can refuse the allure of the corporate machine. That safety net that it provides will all the benefits and whatnots. I also realize that is okay. People who choose to remain employed have their own needs, desires, and journeys. If they find what they’re looking for where they are, then they are living a good life. A good life isn’t defined by spurning your boss and heading out on the open road, it’s about being true to yourself and being passionate about your daily pursuits. Do you wake up in the morning with a grateful heart and a spring in your step? If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track. If not, well, change might be a good option. Whether you’re flying solo or working for a boss.

If you’re starting out as a freelancer, you may want to check out my other post on Best Websites for Freelance Writers.