Scheduling My Time

One of the best things about being a freelancer is that I can schedule my time in a way that works best for me; however, this flexibility can be a double-edged sword. While I have quite a bit of freedom to work on projects whenever it is most convenient, I find that in order to maintain my sanity, I need to carefully schedule my time to maximize productivity and make sure that I complete tasks on time.

ClockWe all have different ways of working based on our body clocks and personal preferences. I get my best work done between 7am and 2pm. I usually try to get up between 6am and 7am, and head right to the computer to catch up on East Coast client email and take care of any urgent items before hitting the shower and starting my day.

Between 7am and 2pm, I work mostly on client projects and writing. I also schedule many of my client meetings during this time and most of my posts for this blog are written in the morning and early afternoon. I try to schedule non-billable meetings after 2pm, so most of my business development or informational meetings are scheduled in the late afternoon. I also try to schedule my workouts in the late afternoon / early evening when my productivity is waning, as I need something to re-energize me.

I also try to combine meetings where possible to avoid spending too much time in transit getting from one meeting to the next. My favorite way to do this is to combine meetings with a Friday afternoon event in Portland called Beer and Blog. By Friday afternoon, I am usually less focused when sitting at home trying to get work done, so I try to schedule meetings right before Beer and Blog. This gets me out of the house, gets the energy level back up, and reduces travel time by bringing my meetings to the same location as an event that I plan to attend anyway.

This doesn’t mean that I am completely inflexible when it comes to scheduling. I sometimes end up doing client work in the afternoon or evening to meet a deadline, and I often end up with random non-work coffee meetings with people in the morning to accommodate busy schedules. I can be flexible, but I certainly have my preferences for certain types of work at specific times.

Until last week, I didn’t realize how big of an impact my schedule had on my productivity. In Portland, we were having a heat wave with temperatures in the 90s all week, which meant that my afternoon workouts were nearly impossible, so I shifted my workouts into the morning and my client work into the late afternoon. While I was able to beat the heat and get my workouts finished before the temperature hit 80 degrees, I found it much more difficult to finish my client work. I was able to get everything finished, but I was more easily distracted in the afternoons, and I missed having the workout as a way to get my energy levels back up. We’re having another heat wave this week, but now that I am more aware of how my productivity is impacted by my schedule, maybe I can make a few more tweaks that result in less of an impact to my productivity.

How do you schedule your time? How does your schedule impact your productivity?