A freelance writer and in particular somebody who has another job or other ventures they are working on at the same time as their freelance writing career, needs to benefit from as many time management and productivity strategies as possible. That's why I want to introduce you to the benefits of time blocking your days. This has become an extremely beneficial strategy for me as I've grown my freelance writing business.
Why I Love Time Blocking in my Freelance Writing Business
In particular, now that I'm working on my PhD dissertation and also growing my freelance coaching and course creation business, it is extremely important that I time-block my days in order to meet the deadlines set by my clients as well as achieve the goals I have for my own personal and business life.
Time blocking simply means setting aside time in which you work on particular tasks.
Batching your tasks together is one of the most effective ways to keep your brain focused on one task at a time. For more information on the benefits of keeping your brain in one lane rather than switching gears, take a listen to this podcast episode.
There are so many different ways that you could time block your days that you can schedule this aligned with your individual needs. One of my favorite ways to time block has been setting aside mornings vs. afternoons for particular tasks.
I know that my brain is most focused in the morning so I work on the most mentally taxing tasks early on in the day. This typically means working on my dissertation and my client work. That leaves the afternoons free for recording podcasts, sending marketing emails, and following up on administrative tasks.
This time blocking has also encouraged me to stay within the bounds of the hours that I set aside to do particular tasks. If you've ever heard of the principle that the work expands to fill the time to completion, then you've probably experienced what it's like to have five open hours in front of you and finding that a task that only should have taken two has stretched across the entire five. Time-blocking can help keep you from making that mistake and ensure that you stay on top of your goals.
A Sample Time Blocking Technique
Time blocking might look, for example, something like this. From 7am to 9am, you might be focused on client-facing tasks such as editing and delivering their work and sending invoices. From 9am to 9.15am, you'll probably take a break and then head back to work from 9.15am until 11.15am for a second blocked period. This could be answering emails, assigning tasks to your team, pitching to new clients, or doing the research for the work that you'll turn in the following day. Time blocking helps to keep your brain focused on one particular task and discourages you from expanding to spend way too much time on a task that simply doesn't require that many minutes or hours.
Another way that many people choose to use time blocking is by segregating theme days. For example, someone with a podcast might use Monday as their podcast day so they do all of their recording, editing and preparing episodes on that day. Tuesday might be the blog writing day to promote their online website and then perhaps Wednesday and Thursday are client-facing days with Friday as a catch-up day. This is not always possible for the brand-new freelancer and it is, in fact, a style that I personally have not resonated with.
The reason it doesn't work well for a new freelancer is because most of a new freelancer's responsibilities will fall on the marketing end. You’ll probably spend 80% of your time marketing your business when you first start your freelance writing business simply because you don't have any clients yet to deliver work to.
As you grow your company, you will have more time that needs to be allotted to researching and delivering client products but you'll always need to be marketing. The freelance writer who makes the mistake of not marketing their business on a regular basis will find that they will most likely experience the feast and famine cycle. Once you've completed all those major projects on your plate, the lack of marketing will play out as no income for the following couple of weeks or months.
Thankfully, this is easily avoided with a consistent freelance writing marketing schedule. Time blocking your days can help you accomplish your marketing goals as well as your client project goals. Time blocking is even important if you have a full-time job that keeps you from being able to work on your freelance projects all hours of the day.
You probably only have early mornings, evenings, and the weekends available to work on your freelance projects. Putting it into your calendar like a schedule and blocking off a couple of hours to work on particular aspects of your freelance writing business increases the chances that you'll be successful with carrying out these tasks. View it as a second job although there is a lot of flexibility afforded by freelancing, especially when you have another full-time job, it is important that you need to stay focused on the tasks you've got to do for your business.
As somebody with limited time, you have to be laser focused on the goals that you intend to achieve with your freelance writing business. Although you can certainly choose the hours in which you do these tasks, putting them into your calendar and blocking out that time is important. Treat it as though you would an appointment with another person.
You Need a Solid Stop Point and Time Blocking Helps You Do It
You're unlikely to back out on it or to avoid participating in the project. If you know that after 8pm, your mind has turned to mush and it's impossible for you to work on projects, then you need to block your most effective freelance hours outside of your day job from 5.30pm to 8.00pm. Having this as a window also gives you a clear stop point.
One of the biggest mistakes that many new freelancers make is in having no stop point. That means that their work has a tendency to bleed across all open hours of the day, ultimately leaving them burned out and frustrated. Having a stop point every single night or the point at which you will no longer do any work is extremely beneficial. For a full time freelance writer, you might even have a stop point on Friday afternoon or evening such that you don't work over the weekends.
One of the biggest traps that a lot of freelance writers fall into is dedicating 7 days a week and many hours of the day towards working on their freelance writing business. Some of that is simply the hustle that is necessary to keep your freelance writing business alive and successful but it can also burn you out and actually lead you to hate your career rather than feeling passionate about it. That's why I encourage people to use the benefits of time blocking and other strategies to help them grow their business and ensure they stay focused on the goals they need.