One of the top benefits people claim for working freelance is the ability to set your own schedule. The reality is that most freelance writers work a lot more hours now than they ever did when they had to punch a time clock. When your job is four steps from the bed or couch and your ghostwriter contract offers you bonus money for every extra post you write, it’s tempting to turn “just one more” into a string of 14-hour days. What other job offers you the ability to literally write your own bonus check whenever you want? Who would ever turn down all that extra cash?
You would, if you don’t want to burn out and give up on this business. If you’re in the middle of a financial emergency and bills have to be paid now, of course you should grab every bit of extra work you can. But going back to the computer all day and night just to make sure clients don’t write and more work opportunities don’t pop up is a recipe for driving yourself crazy. Step away from the computer and give yourself a better work/life balance.
- Figure out your budget for the month, and divide that total by 20. That’s the amount you need to earn each day. Add a little extra for savings or fun money, but make it your basic daily goal.
- Choose eight hours in the day when you’re most productive. Some of us wake up full of creative energy, while others don’t get rolling until after dinner. However you roll, write down a schedule for eight solid hours when you will be working, five days a week.
- Work those hours and don’t allow others to interrupt you. They wouldn’t do this if you were working at a brick-and-mortar store. You don’t go to their work and bother them. Your writing time is sacred.
- Wear something special every time you work that signifies that this is writing time. One writer has a growing collection of writer’s t-shirts, and she only wears them when she works. When the t-shirt comes off, the writing day is done. It helps with the mental switch from the work day to off time.
- When writing time is done, it’s done. Use those eight hours effectively, stay out of social media and fit every bit of earning you can into that time. Whatever you got done that day is enough. If you didn’t hit your goal, add it to tomorrow’s goal and take a lesson from how you got off track today.
- Get physically away from your work space. Shut the door to your office. Cover the desktop with a blanket. Close your laptop and put it in a drawer. Change that writer t-shirt or put the writer’s hat in the closet until next time.
- Plan something for your off time every night, even if it’s something minor. Choose a book you want to read, decide on a meal you want to cook or pick out a hobby to work on. Switch your brain up to leisure mode and keep it there until morning.
Victoria B is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.