Everyone manages their time a little differently, but I’ve been asked several times what a typical day or week looks like. I’m an independent consultant, so my schedule is different from people who work full time for a single company. I work from home and have a pretty flexible schedule. It’s hard to say what a single day is, but here’s my basic weekly pattern.
I usually start my day with email and moderating my LinkedIn group (eLearning Global Network). I do other social media (Slack, reddit, Twitter) during transitions, especially if I’m switching from one project to another. That gives me a little mental break between tasks.
I take a 20 minute nap most afternoons. I have found I’m more productive when I get a quick power nap, so it’s worth taking the break.
First thing Monday morning, I catch up on email and work on my business. That means following up with prospects, working on my website, catching up on my blog if needed, networking, etc. Sometimes this is some professional development time spent reading or taking online courses.
It’s so easy to put off working on my business that I decided I need to do it right at the beginning of the week. I always have something I could be doing for a client, but I try to “pay myself first” and put at least a few hours into working on my business every week.
Client work. Right now, I have 3 different projects for clients.
- Storyboarding a course on child care standards
- Storyline development for a tech startup
- Revisions to content in an LMS that I converted from face-to-face
I try to have two projects in progress at all times, ideally staggered so they’re in different phases. I prefer having some variety. I love writing and storyboarding, but I can only write for so many hours in a day before my productivity drops significantly. If I have one project that requires writing and one that requires development, I can switch between the two and keep my productivity higher.
Tuesdays are usually client work, sometimes including phone calls with SMEs or project managers.
I know I’m most productive in the mornings, so I try to tackle my hardest or highest priority task before lunch.
Wednesdays are usually more client work: storyboarding, development, or LMS work.
I spend at least 45 minutes on my blog on Thursday so I can publish a new post every other Tuesday (at least that’s the goal). Every other Thursday, I join the meeting for the Online Network of Independent Learning Professionals. That’s a virtual community for freelancers and consultants.
I try to schedule calls and appointments on Thursday afternoons when possible. That means I have calls with prospective clients, SMEs, or project managers. I also do some client work.
On Friday mornings, I wrap up my client work for the week.
Friday afternoons are spent closing out the week. I send status updates to clients, update project plans, and set goals for the next week. Every other Friday, I review and categorize transactions in my accounting software so tax time is easier. If I have time, I do some client work or reading for professional development.
What’s Your Schedule?
What’s your schedule? How do you budget and manage your time? Let me know in the comments.
Looking for More?
Liked this post? You might also be interested in my tips for staying productive while working remotely.
Richard Watson published his ebooks on the practicalities of freelancing in the elearning field last fall. The books are a series in three volumes, with information expanded from his blog posts on freelancing. All three combine Richard’s personal stories about his freelancing journey with practical tips for creating and running a freelance business.
Volume I: Launching Your Freelance E-Learning Career
As you’d expect in any book about starting a freelancing career, this book includes very practical tips about setting up a business structure, self-employment taxes, and accounting. For example, you’ll find advice on when to hire a bookkeeper or CPA instead of managing the finances yourself (and the difference between what a bookkeeper or CPA can do for you).
Chapter 4 has practical advice for what hardware and software are necessary and helpful. This chapter differentiates this book from other general sources on getting started with freelancing. You can find information elsewhere about creating a business website with WordPress, but few sources list specific hardware recommendations for a computer for elearning development.
In my opinion, the most valuable information in this volume comes before the practicalities of technology and finances though. The book starts with big questions.
- Is freelancing a good fit for you?
- What are your goals? How do you set good goals for your business?
- What are your core values as a freelancer?
I regularly hear from people who aren’t sure if they want to be freelancers or if they’d be happier as an employee. Independent work isn’t for everyone. Figuring out if it’s a fit before making the leap is important. Identifying goals and values helps increase the chances of being successful as a freelancer. I didn’t use as formal a process as what Richard recommends when I started my business, but I really like the core values section as a way to clarify what kind of business and clients you want.
Volume II: Marketing Yourself and Finding Great Clients
I struggled to name my business, and my professional brand is still split between this blog and my company, Syniad Learning. Richard explores the pros and cons of branding as an individual or as a company. Whatever you decide, he offers advice on how to do that branding and how to build a portfolio.
The chapters on finding clients are great for everyone, even as reminders to those of us who have been working on our own for a while. Richard digs into bad clients, including why they’re harmful and how to avoid them. More importantly, he provides suggestions on finding better clients and keeping those clients as long-term partners.
Volume III: Managing a Successful E-Learning Project
In addition to tips on keeping projects running smoothly, the third volume includes information on writing proposals and determining project costs. If you’re looking for specifics on what to include in proposals and example language, this is a good place to start.
Richard also details the pros and cons of hourly versus project-based pricing, a continual topic of discussion even among experienced consultants and freelancers. (In the interest of disclosure, I’ll note that Richard cites my post on elearning hourly rates as a source for benchmark data.)
I enjoyed the chapter on closing out a project is finished because that’s an area where I think I can do better myself. I haven’t always been consistent about reflecting on what went well and what didn’t, but the list of questions included in this book is a good place to start that conversation.
Overall, I think all three books have a lot of practical advice, especially for those who are thinking about making the leap to freelance or who are just getting started.
You can buy all three books on Amazon:
- Volume I: Launching Your E-Learning Freelance Career
- Volume II: Marketing Yourself and Finding Great Clients
- Volume III: Managing a Successful E-Learning Project
If you’re looking for more books to read, check out my book recommendations on Amazon.