Officially, one of the benefits of working as a freelance writer is that you have a more flexible schedule. It’s true, to an extent: if you need to drop everything and go deal with an emergency, there’s certainly no boss to tell you otherwise. On the other side of the coin, though, you have to be the inflexible one when it comes to your schedule — without a boss to tell you to focus on your work, it can be very tempting to slack off.
Setting office hours and sticking to them is necessary if you want to keep moving forward as a freelance writer. It’s nice if you can be incredibly productive during each and every one of those hours, but, even if you can’t, just having them can help.
…Even When You Don’t Have Work
It’s rare that an employer will let you leave early because you have already completed all the work he has for you. At the very least, he’ll have you get a head start on tomorrow’s work. If you can treat yourself the same way, you can actually do some great things for your freelance career. Completed all your work for today? There are tons of steps you can take to get ahead:
- Work ahead on assignments you already have — turning in assignments early rarely does anything but endear you to editors and clients.
- Send out query letters or work on your marketing. Just because you have plenty of work right now doesn’t mean that you won’t want more work in a couple of weeks.
- Create your own project. Want to eventually earn money off of a blog or a project of your own? Put the time in ahead of time and you can reach that goal.
But Don’t Stay Late
It’s not impossible for a freelance writer to go too far in the other direction — a problem I occasionally suffer from myself. Even when I’m not up against a deadline, I find it tempting to keep working even after my official work hours end. But when you do creative work, like writing, you absolutely have to take time to recharge your creative batteries. Too many late nights spent on getting ahead of the game can eventually burn you out.
It’s important to take your work hours seriously, both in terms of staying on the clock when you might have finished the day’s writing and in terms of leaving the office at the end of the day.
Do you already have office hours set? How do you make sure you stick to them?