At the moment, my freelance practice is busy servicing four main clients (and a few “rats and mice” clients providing one-off projects). Each day, I need to write four stories for one of them (three short news stories and one longer mini-feature that have to be ready on a strict schedule as the client releases new content every 30 minutes) two for another client and update the website for a third with local and syndicated content. That means I need to be pretty disciplined about my time management. My other main client requires two stores per day but the schedule for them is more fluid.
I usually start my week with a pen and a weekly planner (see: https://totallyfreelance.com/planning-weeks-work/) setting out what I know I need to get done. I use a highlighter to mark things off as I go so that I can see the progress and to ensure I focus on what’s next rather than something that might be more interesting but not as urgent. Even though I’m a total nerd and love using tech for most things, I find this pen-and -paper system has been the most effective for me over the years – I’ve been freelancing full time for about eight years.
I’m also recently married and now the parent of two step-sons as well as three kids from my first marriage. That means I need to ensure I’m around for school pickups, weekly family dinners and all the other stuff that forms part of being part of a big and busy family. My wife and I have some shared online calendars so we can see what activities the kids have, where I’ll be as I spend about a third of each year travelling interstate and overseas and our social engagements and appointments. I actually transcribe a lot of that onto my paper system each week as it help me remember what’s ahead of me each week.
My daily routine:
It’s all a balancing act but it works.
- Wake up at between 6:00AM and 8:00AM depending on what I have planned for the day and how tired I am
- Write my first couple of stories for the day while eating breakfast at my desk
- School drop-off when I need to
- Take a proper lunch break where I don’t work for 20-40 minutes (sometimes, that’s a Netflix break that goes a little longer if I’m not super busy)
- Write a little more. If it’s a Friday, this is when I do my admin stuff like invoicing, checking clients have paid on time, start to plan next week
It seems to work better for me than trying to emulate Hunter Thompson’s routine.