It’s no secret that I live and die by my schedule. If something isn’t in my schedule then it simply doesn’t get done.

There’s a huge amount of flexibility in self-employment and/or working from home which I’ve talked about here and here. However, with flexibility and freedom comes enormous distraction and procrastination possibilities. Ever heard that expression about storage- the more you have, the more you need? I find time is very much the same, and it goes like a bowl of Lindt chocolates at a business expo.

In the olden days, I could happily pull all nighters to get work done and meet deadlines but that’s no longer an option for me. I’m up at 5.30am each morning, so semi-comatose by 9pm each night, and besides that, all-nighters are not healthy, even those fuelled by Peanut M&Ms, aka mine.

Here’s what I do instead:

Each week, and each month, I spend some time in a planning meeting with myself where I schedule out my work for the month and week ahead. At school and at uni I always loved the first week of the year when we’d be given our timetables, and I’d colour code it and everything around it. That hasn’t changed!

I use both an electronic and a paper planner to schedule blocks of time to meet my client and internal deadlines. I include all project milestones, delivery dates, content creation, research, copywriting and consultation time. I also schedule time each week and each month to work on my business and not just in it. This is when I write blog posts, manage my social media channels, do marketing work,  have admin time, complete projects and dream and scheme.

However, this process relies on me having a good understanding of how long to allocate blocks of time against projects, which I developed by time tracking obsessively for over a year so I had a very clear idea of how long it will take me to compete any given project. I use an app called Toggl, but it can be a PIA remembering to hit pause and start, particularly when I’m in the zone. When I time track accurately the results are illuminating, and this knowledge of how long it will take me to write a website about page, for example, helps me be more realistic when both setting my schedule, and giving clients deadlines and thereby setting up their expectations of me.

In terms of allocating projects within my schedule, I work out how long a project will take, and then add 15% to account for any mini-crisis that may pop up, such as unlikely poo explosions or internet outages- same/same, really.

There you have it- my number one tip for managing boss life. Sorry it’s not more high-tech, but it works for me.

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This post is part of my series about freelance life. Each month, I share the good, the bad and the beautiful about being my own boss. I provide insights, hacks and ideas for freelancing and running a business. If there’s something specific you’d like to know about working for yourself, freelance communications or copywriting, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help.