Scheduling Time for Yourself While Freelancing

Today is Columbus Day in the U.S.; it’s one of those holidays that some people have off and some people don’t.

Many of my friends have it off. I told them I didn’t. Each of them said, “But you work for yourself, you can take it off if you want to.”

And each of them is correct. I could take it off if I wanted to, but I don’t. I actually find working holidays to be quite productive — since they generally tend to be very quiet (fewer phone calls and e-mails). But that’s me and the personal choice I make as the owner of my own business.

Here’s how I plan my time off. Maybe it will give you some ideas.

2016_calendarFirst, I find a 12-month calendar, such as the one here on the right, that I can print out, make a couple copies of, and mark up.

I start by drawing a line through the dates I will be on vacation. You may prefer to put a big “X” in each box, or highlight the dates in a certain color.

Next, I go through and mark off the holidays (and personal days) I intend to take — those where I will *not* be in the office and *not* doing any work.

Then I decide which conferences, workshops, seminars, and so on I’d like to attend (as far out as I can) and also mark those dates.

I quickly have a visual that shows me the days left that I will be working. Maybe I’ll have to rethink some plans – for instance, it’s crazy how fast my November fills up. I’m never able to do all I want in that month.

This is where a fresh copy of a 12-month calendar comes in; the reassessment phase. It’s where I determine which days off are most important and which activities may fall by the wayside. I mark up the fresh copy with the re-evaluated dates.

Now, you may not know all the dates you want to take off, but holidays, vacations, personal growth, and personal days are great dates to start with. Knowing what dates you don’t want to work helps you schedule your time on the days you do work.

This is a high-level look at the year ahead, but can be a great place to start before figuring out how you will meet your budgeted income and expenses for the year.

Do you schedule your time off in advance, or go week to week and decide based on your workload?

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

9 thoughts on “Scheduling Time for Yourself While Freelancing

  1. Oh, boy! The Child Bride would take one look at my version of this and laugh. Since I now also work for myself, she has discovered that “my” time is really “her” time too. All is not lost though. She still lets me work from 5:00 AM until she gets up.

  2. Reblogged this on MDellert-dot-Com and commented:
    I don’t so much “schedule time off in advance” as plan in advance for working around other obligations on my schedule. But having an editorial calendar for my blog, and doing advanced planning for my freelance workload is key to keeping a healthy balance.

  3. As someone who’s still quite new to this writing/trying-to-be-professional thing I don’t even have a handy calender like that. I have a diary but it’s quite chunky and doesn’t give you a proper overview like yours (thinking about it, it probably has a smaller version inside, so ignore me), but it’s a good idea to plan ahead like that. I’m an organised person so this appeals to me. A lot. Remind me to check my diary for mini calenders when I’m home..

    You are definitely entitled to time off, but it looks like you’re well prepared! As long as you remember to take breaks you’ll be fine. So what if you don’t take a bank holiday off? You’ll have other days instead.

  4. Pingback: Scheduling Time for Yourself While Freelancing | Allen Mahan

  5. I generally like to pick a destination and set a general season timeframe for my yearly ‘big time offs’, then would decide few short vacations I think I deserve. Usually it would not work out 100% like it had been planned, but I like to think it’s a little reward we give ourselves that adds up to our life quality. I try to take half-day off work every two weeks if I could, just to explore things outside of work, so I won’t end up totally unproductive.

  6. I think I’ll try this–since I’ve been full-time free-lance I’ve not really “scheduled” time off. Just worked whenever. Thanks for a good idea. I know time off is important and this should help me get it.

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