Finding the fuel: A self-care guide for freelancers

Because a day off here and there just doesn’t cut it

Chapter 4

Building “blocks” will change your life

So you’re officially a freelancer now and you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. This is AMAZING, but also terrifying. There’s so much to do!

Have you ever spent entire days (or weeks) doing ALL THE THINGS and still feel like you have gotten nothing done? Or sat down at your workspace and just felt like you have no idea where to start? Knowing when to do certain tasks by building a block schedule for your freelancing life will help you focus your energy and ensure that all aspects of your business are getting the proper amount of attention. 

At your previous job, you were probably only responsible for a few functions. As a freelancer, you run the entire business, bookkeeping, marketing, human resources, creative, everything. It’s a lot! Time blocking enables you to meet more deadlines, achieve more goals, boost productivity, and make time for things you like doing. This means less things fall through the cracks, less anxiety and less stress. 

“There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”
- Desmond Tutu

When everything in life seems overwhelming and impossible to accomplish, time blocking is a really effective way to practice self-care and gradually accomplish important tasks by just taking on a little at a time. Time blocking can help reduce stress and anxiety by helping you feel more accomplished and productive throughout the day. 

Ever sit down to work, freak out, freeze up and have no idea what to do first? It feels like trying to eat an entire elephant in one sitting - impossible. We’ve all felt this at times and it’s a big reason why many people end up not realizing their dreams. Time blocking helps you put one foot in front of the other and focus on one thing at a time, helping you to feel more capable and accomplished in reaching your goals. Time blocking also helps you stick to your designated work hours and prioritize self-care.

What is time blocking or block scheduling?

You probably haven’t heard the term “block scheduling” since high school. A traditional block schedule class period may be 90-120 minutes and convene once or twice a week instead of every day. This concept is extremely effective when applied to your freelance business and your life. Time blocking helps you protect your most important resources - your time, energy and focus. 

This approach helps move you away from stressful anxiety ridden practices like constantly fielding emails, tasks and requests. Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking doesn’t make you more productive, it’s detrimental to your productivity and mental sanity. Our brains aren’t designed to do multiple things at once and our performance and creativity can suffer dramatically when we try to do too much. 

Time blocking your work schedule and personal life by setting aside weekly periods to tackle your to-do list will make your freelancing journey a smoother sail. You feel more in flow, less distracted, more productive and happier.

How to build your time blocks

The key to sticking to your block schedule is batching similar tasks in the same category. This will help you organize your life and keep up with the never ending list of things to do. No matter if you’re full-time freelancing or moonlighting, implementing this strategy empowers you to stop letting tangents ruin your concentration and start taking control of what type of work you do and when. This is living the freelancing dream!

Some examples of how to categorize your work and life tasks could include:

  • Creative time
  • Administrative - bookkeeping, responding to emails, marketing, etc.
  • Home - cleaning, laundry, meal preparation
  • Family and social
  • Health and wellness - exercise, meditation, therapy
  • Free time to just do whatever you want

Are you a morning person or a night owl? Are you more likely to stick to a workout routine first thing when you wake up to get your juices flowing or after work when you need to blow off some steam? As a freelancer, you no longer have to adhere to the conventional 9-5 schedule. Remember, you make the rules now and if creative energy flows through your veins at midnight, then schedule a nap or rest block during the day to charge your batteries so that you can take full advantage of when your mind and body is at its best. 

Setting aside time to tackle certain tasks not only helps you stay on top of your to-do list, but it feels incredibly empowering to do certain things on your terms. 

Time blocking is energy management

Living the corporate life means you have little control over your energy management. Chances are, you are required to show up during designated times and do designated tasks whether you feel like it or not. Being a freelancer means that you don’t have to adhere to any of this and that you can focus on energy management and feel empowered to build the successful business of your dreams.

Even as freelancers, we all have to do tasks that we don’t find the most enjoyable that still have to get done. Time blocking allows you to schedule your work day around when you have the energy to perform certain tasks to the best of your ability. Energy management is about turning inward, understanding what times during the day certain tasks feel most accessible or enjoyable and building your schedule around what makes you feel good and want to come to work every day.

Most importantly, leave yourself some open time for spontaneity. Keeping a few hours open on Wednesday afternoons to do whatever your heart desires, work or otherwise is incredibly freeing. After all, that’s why we chose the freelancing life - for the FREEDOM!