A Day in the Life of a Freelancer
Since quitting my job in April to take my side hustle full-time, I have had nearly a year to figure out my routine and get into the groove of freelancing writing. In the last year I have had some exciting highlights, but most days are not as glamorous as the freedom of freelancing may lead you to believe. In fact, the life of a freelancer can be boring and isolating, but it isn’t without its perks. Here is a snapshot in an average day over my last year freelancing.
7:00am: Wake Up
One of my favorite perks of being my own boss is waking up without an alarm clock, not that my baby girl and dogs don’t fulfil that role on occasion. Without an alarm, I naturally wake up around 7:00am most days. Sometimes I wake up earlier or later and adjust my schedule later in the day accordingly, but waking up after the sun rises is much better than my old job waking up before dawn all winter.
7:01am: Check Email
Arguably an unhealthy habit, the first thing I do most mornings is check my email and social media accounts. I sleep with my phone on my nightstand, so I’ll spend a few minutes enjoying the warmth of my bed looking through the morning’s news and any messages from clients. Living on the West Coast, many of my clients have already been working for a couple of hours by the time I wake up, so I check for anything urgent I have to take care of before breakfast before starting my day.
7:30am: Working Breakfast
As someone who’s a little too lazy to put my kitchen to good use before noon, I’ll boot up my computer and grab some pastries, toss frozen pancakes in the microwave, or waffles in the toaster most mornings. I eat while getting through the rest of my social accounts and create a plan of attack for the day with a reminder from the Fabulous app. I always list out “my three things” that I will absolutely accomplish by the end of the day, plus a to-do list of tasks I need to take care of in the near future.
I generally work from home, so I just go straight from breakfast to work. I find these early morning hours to be my most productive, and rather than getting in the car for a draining commute I can start work while while I have the most energy. Many days I earn more before lunch than I did in an entire day at my old job!
11:30am: Lunch Break
I get hungry around 11:30am, so when I find a good stopping point I jump in the shower and get dressed, make something for lunch, walk the dogs, and take a break. Sometimes I’ll run an errand. Sometimes I’ll watch a short show on Netflix while I eat. Sometimes I just make food and power through and keep on working if I am feeling particularly motivated or have a deadline or urgent project due.
When working at home full-time, it is easy to go an entire day or two without leaving the house. I make a point to take the dogs all the way around the block most afternoons and regularly join my wife and daughter for afternoon trips to the grocery store as an excuse to get some natural sunlight.
12:15pm: Back to Work
After lunch, it’s back to work for the afternoon. I do more writing in the morning and other projects in the afternoon when I have a shorter attention span. Afternoon tasks include email catch up, social media postings and planning, website development, article promotion, invoicing, bookkeeping, and other tasks I can take care of in 15 to 20 minute chunks.
Freelancers have a lot of non-revenue work surrounding their businesses, which is why I focus on earning first thing in the morning. That way, even if I get stuck working without earning anything in the afternoon, I’m all set for the day.
4:30pm: “Stop Working” for the Day
Around 4:00pm to 5:00pm, I’ll walk away from the laptop and spend time with my family. This is one of the best perks of working from home. I can play with my daughter, hang out with my wife, and do around-the-house activities without having to justify the time I stop to a boss.
While I typically stop working at 4:30, I don’t shut down the computer quite yet. I often check back in, respond to emails, and sometimes get back on the computer to do a little more work before calling it a night.
4:30pm to Bedtime: On Call
Even after I stop working for the day, I’m always on call. I have clients that work all hours of the day and night. I like to be responsive for them and provide the best possible client experience, so I always keep my phone close by just in case I need to respond or fulfill an urgent need.
As a freelancer, I only earn when I’m working and can’t keep clients if I don’t deliver a high quality result consistently. That means working long hours some days, but I also have the freedom to take an afternoon off, a 4:00 Friday, or anything else I choose to do with my time. As long as the work gets done, freelancing offers a very flexible lifestyle. However, it isn’t quite as exciting as you might expect.