One of my favourite things to read online is "behind the scenes" looks at how my peers (and other creatives) run their businesses and schedule their time. I love playing the comparison game to my own schedule, and usually find myself picking up pointers or suggestions along the way. I always get a kick out of seeing how different or similar our calendars are because just when I feel like a chicken with my head cut off, I'm reminded that we're all out here doing our best with what we have.
Those of us who freelance or run our own businesses don't always have to follow the traditional 9-5 schedule. THANK THE LORD!
Personally, I love having this flexibility because sometimes when it's raining you just want to take a 15 minute power nap, ya know? But as a general rule, I still stay in synch with traditional working hours. It just makes it easier to schedule time with friends and family mid-day or in the evenings. I'm definitely an early riser (particularly in the warmer months when the sun rises much earlier) and prefer to get up and at 'em to start my day. You won't find me sleeping in until 10 am on a random Tuesday, that's for sure!
Alright, before we take a look at what a "typical" day looks like for me I should note that OBVIOUSLY no two days are the same because my work as web designer/developer is always changing! As much as I love routine and a predictable schedule, there will always be things that come up and throw my good intentions out the window.
Some days I am much more focused on the administrative side of my business (e.g., blogging, content marketing, social media posts & scheduling, working on email newsletters, keeping on top of banking and invoices, logging expenses, communicating with clients, etc.). I honestly don't mind these tasks (except for accounting stuff, I'll never learn to love that) and sometimes it can be nice to just crank through the admin duties.
However, other days are jam packed with client work. My business is broken down into three main areas: design & development projects, consulting sessions, and occasional client website work. Sometimes I have a heavy client work load and end up focusing my time and energy on these tasks. Depending on the task, this type of work can take up more mental energy than the business admin duties, and it can often be pretty time consuming and focused work.
That being said, I usually work on both business administrative tasks and client work in a typical/ideal day.
Design your day worksheet
I've also created a free DESIGN YOUR DAY WORKSHEET, which is a printout that I use all the time to run my business and keep my life on track. It will help you plot out your day, identify your top priorities, and keep track of your to-do list for the day and week. You can get it (for free!) right by entering your email address in the form below. Trust me, this is a godsend if you're having trouble staying focused or on top of client work.
Alrighty, let's get to the goods.
Here's what a typical day looks like for me:
6:15-6:30 am- Wake up, hit snooze, ponder life
6:30 am - Get up, get dressed, brush teeth, wash face, make my bed, make tea
7 am - Head out for my morning walk along the water
7:45 am - Return home, make breakfast, listen to music or a podcast, write my morning pages
8:15 am - Read and reply to emails (work and personal)
8:30 am - Review the day’s “to do” list and calendar, then head out to a coffee shop/co-working space/the (blessed) library
8:45 am - Content creation and marketing. This could be writing a blog post, recording a video tutorial for my Youtube channel, or working on my weekly newsletter to my email list. I like to do this first thing in the morning while my mind is still fresh because I am a terrible writer by the end of the day!
11 am- Check social media accounts and review scheduled posts. I normally have a snack (fruit or veggies) around now so that I have something in my belly before my lunchtime workout.
11:45 am -1:15 pm - Head out to the gym for a lunchtime workout, ideally with a fellow freelancer friend
1:15-1:30 pm - Quick shower, devour lunch (usually leftovers)
1:30-4:30 pm - Client work. I like doing client work in the afternoons after I’ve had a workout because I feel very focused and motivated - shoutout to endorphins for keeping me productive! This could be for multiple clients or powering through on one particular account. I usually have a combination of design & development work, consulting projects, and one-off website updates and tasks to work on.
4:30-5:30 pm - Business development. I typically finish off the day by sending out cold pitch emails to my dream clients, connecting with industry peers (by email, in Facebook groups, commenting on blogs, etc.), working on guest posts or articles for tech publications, etc.
5:45 pm - Return home, drop my stuff off, grab anything I need for the evening.
6 pm - Evening plans. Because I work alone most days, I like to have plans in the evenings. Whether it’s attending a tech event, having dinner with friends, doing a workout (if I didn’t go at lunch), heading down to the beach, etc., I feel happiest knowing that I have something social to look forward to after work.
9:30 pm - Check emails once more before the end of the day, write out my “to do” list for tomorrow in my notebook.
9:45 pm - Read before bed. I love thrillers but lately I've been reading a lot of non-fiction books as well.
10:30 pm - Bed time!
Thoughts on my daily schedule
Note: If you want to take a look at the gear I use everyday in my business and life, be sure to check out this post I wrote!
Looking at the schedule above, I have to say that it is a fairly true look at my daily life as a freelance web designer/developer... on an uneventful day! When things are trucking along like normal, my schedule is pretty consistent and predictable. I'm a creature of habit so this works well for me.
However, like everyone, there are definitely days where I am glued to my computer for hours on end with no breaks, or end up working later into the night/on weekends. Some days I have back-to-back client calls or meetings, which means that I just am not productive in other areas of my business. And you know what? That's okay! It all evens out in the end.
A few things that keep me sane and on schedule:
- Google calendars (seriously, I schedule out EVERYTHING for my business & personal life)
- Sticking to the Pomodoro method
- Batching (more on this in an upcoming blog post)
- Staying off social media throughout the deay
- The Deep Focus playlist on Spotify and the Focus playlist on Brain.fm
- Meal prepping and planning my food ahead of time
- Putting my phone on airplane mode when I'm working to minimize distractions
Also, don't forget to grab your copy of the DESIGN YOUR DAY WORKSHEET below. I use this all the time to schedule out my day, identify top priorities, and keep track of my daily/weekly to-do list. It's totally free and I know it'll help you out!
While the schedule above shows a typical (ideal?) day, I can't count on every day to be the same. This variety keeps me on my toes and makes every day new and exciting, but sometimes it's nice to have a little routine in your work day.
Now that I've shared what my schedule looks like a lot of the time, it's time to hear from you! What does a normal day look like on your end? Do you work similar hours as I do or is your schedule totally different? What tips do you have for making the most out of your week day while also balancing your personal life? I'd love to know so leave me a note in the comments!
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