Taking up freelancing while you’re working at a full-time job is a great option to make a little extra money and practice your craft.
However, it can be tough to balance a heavy workload, extra projects, exercising, education, hobbies and a social life.
As a freelancer for over six years, I’ve learned a few tactics for balancing work and freelancing.
Your full-time employment must take priority. From 8-5, give all your attention and energy to work. After regular working hours, and when you feel mentally prepared for the next day at work, can you invest in creating passive income for yourself.
With this philosophy, you’ll be successful at work – learning and growing there – while building freelancing skills and a little extra money on the side.
Manage Your Time
Time management is essential.
If you’re a procrastinator by nature, freelancing and working full-time is going to be a full-on challenge for you. However, there’s good news: Time management skills can be learned.
At the start of each month, understand what projects are due for work on what days. You might have three deadlines one week, a time at which it would be too overwhelming to commit to freelancing.
Create a dedicated Google calendar – or a hanging wall calendar if you’re visual like me – and label the days when you’ll be busy at work. With these dates in front of you, mark down freelancing due dates on the days when you don’t have a lot going on.
Laying out your work priorities will allow you to see when and how much freelancing you can take on that month. You can spread out your freelancing projects to the days when you won’t be as busy at your full-time job.
Once you have your schedule laid out, stick to it. You won’t have the bandwidth to push off projects for another hour, much less another day.
A key to balance is not taking on too much. This is especially important if you’re just starting out and aren’t sure how much time it will take you to complete freelancing projects.
Take it slow when committing to freelancing work. Keep timetables of how long it takes you on average to complete projects, so in the future, you know how much you can say yes to.
It’s perfectly fine to have more freelancing work one week or month than it is another month. For example, December tends to be a busy month for everyone. The holidays not only up the ante in our personal lives, but more freelancing work becomes available as all sorts of companies look for additional content, design and other projects to shore up their holiday campaigns.
It may be tempting to take on a boatload of work in December; however, consider what you’ll have to give up in exchange. Weigh your options and only commit to as much as you want to handle. Over-committing to projects will leave you mentally and physically exhausted. You won’t have energy to put into important people and activities.
One of the most important ways you can balance full-time work and freelancing is by creating routines or habits around those activities.
Where do you freelance? Create a space where you can concentrate, where each time you go there you’re in the mindset to do your work. Maybe it’s a desk in a quiet room in your house or maybe it’s a co-working space with other freelancers. Wire your brain to get in freelancing mode when you’re there, and the work will get done much more quickly.
When do you freelance? Only you know when you’re most productive. Whether you get up at the crack of dawn to complete your freelancing work or you’re more productive after a glass of wine in the evening, find that just-right time.
When these routines are down to a science, your time management is in check, you’ve prioritized your work, and you’re committed to the right amount of work, your employment and freelancing will be much more balanced.