When you’re a freelance writer, it is your sole responsibility to organise your time. You set your eyes on a task, calculate the number of hours it might take you to complete it and then schedule your week to accommodate it. Simple, right?
The problem is, many of us can become confused about how to do this effectively. When you look at your life in closer detail, you might notice there are elements that can potentially be delegated to another party, or be completed more efficiently, freeing you up for more work and, consequently, more money! But how do you know what to outsource and what to do yourself? Which tasks can be slimmed down? And should you pay money to someone (or something) to complete a task you could easily spend a morning on without spending a penny?
Let’s look at what might work better:
Delegating household chores and other unwanted chores
Let me begin this section by giving you an example.
For a long time I had a specific schedule that I thought was working for me. I’d get my family up, take my toddler to a morning group or activity, come home and put him down for a nap, write for a couple of hours and then spend my afternoon cleaning and shopping with my toddler in tow. This schedule gave me a couple of hours to work each day. Great!
The problem was, I was spending a lot of time on household tasks when a few of these could have been delegated. As a home-based worker, I was under the illusion that it was my sole responsibility to also keep the house in good shape. This is where the mistakes began to surface.
Had I hired a cleaner and childminder for just an hour or two a day, I could have earned even more money than I did, EVEN with the added expense. Let’s do some hypothetical maths:
Let’s say your hourly rate chargeable to a client is £40, and your local cleaner and/or childminder charges £15 per hour. Let’s also say you currently have 10 hours per week for writing work (earning you £400 per week / £1600 per month). If you were to hire the childminder/cleaner, and they visit your home for 5 hours per week, you spend an additional £75 per week (£300 per month). That sounds like a lot, right? But, if you use this time for working, you can potentially earn up to £200 per week extra (should you use all your spare hours), which amounts to £800 additional income per month (£2,200n in total). That’s a £500 profit.
Now, you’ll notice I said ‘should you use all your spare hours’, and that really is a key point here. If you’re struggling to find enough work to fill your current schedule, it makes little sense to start spending money on extra help only to sit around twiddling your thumbs. But once you get to the point when you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to fit your writing work into your life, or are up until 2am finishing an article, it might be time to make the investment.
Here’s some time-consuming tasks you could outsource to paid or unpaid helpers:
- Picking children up from school / taking them to clubs or lessons
- Cleaning / folding / washing / ironing
- Shopping / cooking
- Completing basic admin
- Everyday childcare / baby care
And I’m sure you can think of many more…
I’m, of course, not suggesting you boycott your entire life and all it’s responsibilities to sit at your computer and churn out articles. But if you are knocking back work because you haven’t enough hours in the day, or desire more income than you’re getting, you should know there are options for freeing up the occasional hour here and there.
If you are a parent, there’s another option to help you free some spare time. Ask a friend with a child of the similar age if they would be willing to take it in turns with you to mind both children at the same time. So, one week, you would take their child in for an hour or two, and they’d return the favour the following week. Simple!
If you are pregnant and panicking about having time to freelance when a new baby arrives, you can also explore shared maternity leave options with your partner. This is a new scheme that allows your partner to take some of your maternity leave (even if you are self employed rather than employed), so long as you fit the eligibility requirements for maternity allowance. For more information on your eligibility, click here.
Slimmed Down Tasks
Some tasks take us longer than we anticipate. Admin, for example, can take FOREVER. Then there’s the added pressure of completing everyday tasks around the home. If you’re cooking anything fancier than beans on toast, this can become a time consuming activity that eats into your evening.
Here’s my tips on making simple tasks more efficient so that you free up time to work:
- Buy a slow cooker and use it often. If you use your slow cooker throughout the day, you free up quality evening time to finish off an article when the kids are asleep.
- Do your shopping online. You’re already at your computer, so unless you find supermarkets a peaceful place to be (I don’t) you can skip the queues and order your bits and pieces to be delivered to your door.
- Invest in invoicing / admin software to complete certain tasks for you. Don’t sit there trying to navigate excel spreadsheets unless you’re an excel wizard. Let a piece of software do the hard work for you, even if it means parting with a few quid.
- Beware of procrastination. Check out our blog post on beating procrastination here.
- Add a hard stop to your phone meetings. This means telling the client in advance that you need to be done with the call by a certain time. Send your client a brief agenda in advance to ensure they know what should be covered within that time.
- If you have a child who is nursery or school age, do what you CAN do when they’re home and work when they’re not. For example, if your child goes to school from 9am to 3pm, do your household tasks after 3pm when they’re home (you could even offer them some pocket money to help) and do your writing work while they are at school.
- Schedule appointments for times and days when you don’t have much on. Weekends are good if your spouse / partner is home to help with other chores or childcare.
- Don’t float around looking for the perfect café to work from and then spend another 20 minutes deciding which coffee you’d like. Make these small decisions in advance and build up extra time to work.
- Start and end your day with an up-to-date to-do list and schedule each item on it for a day you know you’ll be able to complete it.
Got another idea? Comment below, I’d love to hear your views!
If you think you have no time to write, I promise you that this isn’t the case. You just need to take charge of your time and learn how to maximise those moments for writing. For customised tips on scheduling your day, sign up to Learn Freelance Writing.