Daily Freelance Designer Schedule with Self Care
Wake up, wake up, wake up! If you’ve been around for a while, you may have come across my previous daily freelance designer schedule post. However, now that I’m being more mindful of my time and energy each day, some things have changed. As a creative, it’s very easy to experience burnout. With so many non-creating things to do such as promoting yourself, admin tasks, and contact from clients each day, it’s important to still get the work done in between — while also making sure you’re in the best mental and creative space.
I haven’t always been the most organized person, but I have mild anxiety, and dealing with that in the best way takes some structure. I can’t let client pressures or rushed projects get me all in a tizzy. Actually, it had a lot to do with why I’ve honed in on my niche and created processes so that I deal with the type of clients fit best for my work style as well as my lifestyle. So, without further adieu, here’s my updated daily freelance designer (or writer, or blogger, or whatever) schedule.
7:00 AM WAKE UP + BE MINDFUL
I’ve tried to be one of those people that wakes up before the sun every day at 5 am and it just ends up in me crashing before noon. 7 AM is my sweet spot. It’s early enough for me to feel like I’m not at all sleeping in, while also being realistic about the fact that I don’t have to get up and beat traffic.
The first thing I do when I wake up is take a deep breath and take the time to be thankful for waking up, being healthy, and being present. I take the time to acknowledge how I’m feeling each day, and with that in mind, I begin to think about my tasks for the day. Being mindful of how I’m feeling helps me be realistic about the load I will take on each day. Sometimes you feel blah – and on those days it’s okay to cut some things out of this daily schedule and just relax or do something that makes you feel better.
7:30 AM: COFFEE + PHONE TIME
Okay, if you have to catch up on late night texts from friends, or read the news, or play a few brain games on your phone to get those early distractions out then this is your time. I usually get this out of the way while I prep my morning coffee or smoothie depending on what kind of energy boos I’m in the mood for. I also take this time to write those daily tasks I thought about on my whiteboard or put them in Todoist.
8 AM: START WORK
I work in 2-hour blocks, which gives me enough time to do one or two key tasks within each block. As a freelancer, there are so many things to do, especially when you’re booked and busy, so being able to focus and not get distracted is key. I start by checking my e-mails, which lets me know if there are any fires I need to put out (clients panicking over small things) that I should prioritize first. Ignoring your e-mail inbox outside of set times will help you avoid a lot of distraction and keep you focused on the tasks you set without anything jumping the line.
When you find yourself wondering WHAT WORK to do this early – I say whatever takes the most creativity. If you have current clients, work on those fresh concepts. If you’re still looking for clients, work on some concept designs or some strategy and do some research while your brain is fresh.
10 AM: GET DRESSED + MAKE BREAKFAST
I’ve learned that the order of this is very important! If I eat and then shower – I’ll somehow end up laid across the bed and in nap mode. But if I shower and get fully dressed, that helps me somewhat fight the urge to get back into bed if my morning oatmeal makes me feel a little TOO warm and cozy inside. And even though you could obviously lounge around in pajamas all-day – getting dressed makes you feel like you’re not just one of those artsy bums without a job. Typical career wear would be a stretch for me, so I usually go for athleisure. My absolute fave brand currently is Outdoor Voices.
11 AM: BACK TO WORK
It’s time for the second work block of the day! If I totally need a break from the computer – this is the time I take to go thrifting or sourcing for my vintage store. I highly suggest a hobby or side hustle that gets you away from your desk at some point in the day, a few times a week.
1 PM: LUNCH BREAK + YOGA
It’s time to refuel, followed by time to refocus. I have about a 45 min lunch break and then set up for a quick 10 mins of yoga. Even though you can sit and eat at your desk, try totally removing yourself from your office area during this time.
2 PM: SELF WORK
If I’m not bogged down with client work, then this is the time I take to work on my own business. That’s definitely a part of the job too! It’s a great time for planning some social media marketing or working on adding some recent projects to a blog post or portfolio. There are also a ton of other business/admin tasks you can fill in here. Taking the time to consciously work on you and your business for at least one hour a day keeps it running! All of my projects, as well as any self-promo or blog post ideas I have, are organized in Asana.
3 PM: GYM / FREE TIME
This is the part of the day that I take advantage of working from home. This time is the sweet spot between when people are on lunch from 12-2 and when people get off at 4 or 5. It’s the perfect low-traffic time for places like the gym. Or, for actual traffic if you need to run some errands like grocery shopping. Alternatively, this is when I like to clean up or organize whatever small mess I’ve made so far.
4 PM: WORK FINALE
It’s time to put some truth to those “I’ll have that to you by EOD” e-mails. This is when I wrap up my work for the day and package up final files. You can also start early on setting some goals and intentions for the next day. Try to be “off work” by 6 PM at the latest. This is so that you can take some you or family or friend time.
THE HARD PART
It’s honestly so hard to stop working at 6 PM. When your mind is always on the hustle and your office is just across the hall – there’s nothing stopping you. However, you really want to avoid burnout as much as possible. My “cheat” for this is working on my side-business. Since, if I followed my schedule, I haven’t worked on this much yet each day. It’s the equivalent of someone who works a regular office 9-5 and comes home to work on their side hustle. So, I feel it’s totally fair. But working on client work from sun up to sun down isn’t healthy for your mind-state.
In what ways do you add self-care to your daily freelance designer schedule?