Finding Your Freelance Groove

Early Bird - Night Owl

Remember when I posted about waking up early?

I was doing really well getting up at 7 AM almost every morning M-F, with the exception of a Tuesday here and there I would sleep in.

My work day was over by 1-2pm most days and I had to rest of the day to do whatever I wanted, which was pretty awesome.

Overall it was a good run but it’s not for me. In the past (and I have been pretty vocal about this previously) I’ve always been a big advocate of working when you feel like working. This is especially true for creatives like designers.

Few people produce amazing work when they’re “forced” to do it.

Whenever is OK

I recently read an article that confirmed for me its OK for me to get up when I feel like it, and people that do generally outperform early risers. Link is at the bottom of this post. It’s a long but worthwhile read!

My body generally wakes me up around 11am to Noon-ish. While it’s Sunday I actually didn’t get up until 1pm Today.

It’s 7pm now and I just finished the front-end for an entire site and wrote this lengthy (for me) post. All of which took a few hours.. because I wanted to do it. I felt good about working and was excited to get into it.

That Said…

Lets be honest if I get up at 11, sure I can answer emails and get things moving by Noon.. but I’m not pushing code or even getting to the point where I can write code until at least a few hours later.

So while it’s ok I also know sometimes that my EST clients won’t see work from me until the next day. They get this and I generally don’t do much same-day turn around work anyway. I consider that rush and if you want it rush well you have to pay for it.

Accept No Groove At All

There’s another alternative I’ve been trying which is to basically keep it changing.

Instead of having a set or rough schedule at all I’ve just been mixing it up constantly.

A Sample Week

Monday – 9am
Tuesday – Noon (“off” day)
Wednesday – Noon (“off” day)
Thursday – 11am
Friday – 7am
Saturday – Whenever (No work/email/anything)
Sunday – 10am, but no work until I feel like (usually around 5-7pm)

Tuesday and Wednesday I only respond to emails for about an hour or deal with critical stuff if nobody else can, or it truly can’t wait (which is real rare).

So Saturday is my only real weekend or day off. Sort of anyway, because you have to understand even on some of these days I’m getting up at 7am to work, my work day will sometimes only last 3-4 hours.

For example if I schedule projects out so I can do one at a time and have lots of runway (like 60 days to do a single weeks worth of work?) I can literally work only a few hours a day and still move on to the next project before my timeline runs out.

This gives me lots of room to spend time scoping out incoming work, vetting new clients, submitting proposals, or none of that at all.

The key there is charging enough to make a full months income and also have enough saved to turn away clients that don’t fit in your timeline. I don’t always do this but I do have some months where I can line up 3-4 of these projects and take my time over 2-3 months.

No BS Here

Even with scheduling projects out, having a steady stream of incoming leads, and getting as much of my business on auto pilot as possible I still hustle.

I still have 60 hour weeks or sometimes more. Ever submit a proposal and completely forget about the project, book some other work, and then get an email asking how to proceed with deposit because they are ready to kickoff?

Yeah, I have. A few times more than I wish to admit. Or for those of you with retainers or clients that buy large blocks of hours – if you book yourself up it never fails that they will need something in the 20+hr range. every. time.

So How Do I Find My Groove?

Well you don’t. I think your groove finds you or maybe you already know when you work best but it breaks our conventional rules, so you don’t take advantage of it, or can’t at all because of the way you’ve structured things around a normal work day.

If you want to sleep in and work at odd times then you have to structure timelines and client expectations around that. I always give myself more time than is necessary just because there are so many things that could go wrong. I could miss the mark and scope a project incorrectly, a client could want to add or change a bunch of things half way through and rather than turn them away I’d prefer to do it. That’s lost business if not.

I can also appreciate that some people have families and kids. It’s just my fiancé and myself, so if I sleep in.. it is what it is. So it just may not be in the cards for some people. I still think the article that made me think more about structured work hours is a great read either way.

Why You Shouldn’t Work Set Hours.”

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