Chicago — Balancing a full-time job with freelance or part-time work can be stressful. On some days, it can feel like you're drowning in deadlines, with no end in sight. Trust me, I know.
Luckily, there are some practical steps you can take to fulfill all your responsibilities at work and for your freelance gig.
Here are a few steps I take:
Get organized with a calendar
In high school and college I’d keep track of my assignments in my head. I didn’t feel an immense pressure to write down my tasks and I managed to get by without doing it. But by the time I got to the workforce and started freelance writing in my spare time, I realized that approach is a recipe for disaster. When you have multiple projects and deadlines to work on simultaneously, trying to rely on your memory alone will only lead to missed interview calls and unfinished articles.
That’s why you should get organized with a Google or Outlook calendar. Be as detailed as you can when you create appointment slots. For instance if you have a meeting on a certain day, note the time and even note what the meeting is about. Include contact information so you won’t have to go searching for it when the time comes.
Make sure your schedule accounts for breaks, errands and other vital activities that may take you away from your work.
So you organized all your priorities into a Google or Outlook calendar. Good job! But if you're like me, that might not always prompt you to look at it. That’s especially the case if you're not in the habit of making it a practice or if you're distracted by whatever project is in front of you. For that reason, you may need a second line of defense - reminders. I like to set reminders to help me keep tabs of what I’m supposed to be working on during certain timeframes. It’s an easy way to pace myself and manage my time. That’s because it not only keeps me focused on the task at hand but it helps hold me accountable for the tasks to come. I prefer my reminder alarms to be startling, to snap me out of a work-induced trance and prepare me for the next task on my list. Make sure to customize your alarm to your liking.
There comes a time when everyone who balances freelance work and a full- time job must take an honest appraisal of what they have time for. Most of us need the additional income to pay off student loans, to pay for groceries, rent or to take care of our families. But that doesn’t mean your health has to suffer as a result. If you feel like the weight of your workload is taking a toll, it might be time to reconsider what you can handle at that time. Maybe you might think about cutting back on your freelancing or finding a gig that’s more flexible. Either way, this consideration is not only vital to your productivity but your well-being.