Student freelancers have a unique challenge of balancing all of life’s demands, such as classes, family, friends, and of course – freelancing. Being able to juggle all of those things and still have some time for yourself will help from getting burned out and keep you motivated to continue not only your school career, but freelancing as well. Even though each freelancer is different, the tips below should help regain control over your life, while still giving you a little free time to relax.
Keep to a routine
This has been one of the biggest tips that helped me keep my sanity, and one of the hardest to implement. Keeping to a routine will not only help you get things done on schedule, it will also help you make time and plan for the future.
Take for instance your school schedule. You have a set routine, every week, of when you are supposed to be in class. When you are in class, you are focused on what is going on in the class. You know you are there only for class and nothing else. That routine helps you stay focused for class. What might happen if your math class is at a different time every week? If your class was at a different time each week, then you have the stress of making sure that you can get everything done with this constant change of schedule.
Same with balancing things in your life. Keeping a routine tells your brain to stay focused on what is routine. When things are routine, you don’t have to worry or stress over them. Thus, develop some type of weekly routine. Start by setting up a weekly calendar and mark what times you have to be in class. Then mark out the times it requires you to get to and from class. Follow that with marking out the time it requires you to get up and ready to go to class.
Next, figure out the best times for you to study and do course work. This is a different time for everyone. For me, it’s first thing when I wake up. That way I am not tired, everyone is still trying to wake up and start their day, and my brain focuses more on reading at that time of day.
Finally, mark the times that you feel you do your best freelancing. For me, this is after lunch and before 5pm on days I don’t go to school. Other things to consider marking on your calendar: date nights with your significant other or nights to spend with friends, times you spend exercising, times you typically spend with family (like church or long dinners) and anything else you may have that is routine. For me, I have a weekly date night with my boyfriend, and I go and have lunch with him during the middle of the week.
You will find that once you have designated periods of when you do certain things, then the stress of when you will get things done will easily melt away.
This one is another biggie for me. It is important that you stay healthy. If you are anything like me, you can’t afford two or three days sick in bed. Thus, it is important to keep healthy so that you can always be on your A-game. Some simple things to stay healthy include make smarter food choices (even if it means taking longer to prepare meals), exercise regularly, take vitamins, watch your weight, wash your hands, etc. Need I say more?
Especially if you freelance, your clients aren’t going to particularly be overly sympathetic if you have been sick. If you are able to prevent being sick as much as possible, telling your clients that you couldn’t meet a particular deadline becomes fewer and farther between.
Stress is also a major factor when it comes to your health because it weakens the immune system. You should reduce your stress as much as possible to help keep you healthy. Doing stress relieving exercises like taking a short walk/run or enjoying the great outdoors, does wonders for your stress level.
I think this is everyone’s worst enemy. Why do today what can be put off for tomorrow? I’m really bad about procrastination and deciding to do things later, but it always comes back around to get me.
Have a daily to-do list, and make sure that you accomplish everything on that list. If you have some extra time in your study period (see above), and you have a paper due in the next week, then start working on it. Seeing something on a to-do list, glaring at you, will help you keep procrastination away, because really, who likes long to-do lists?
Oh, and while we are on the subject of a to-do list, you should really keep one. With all that we student freelancers have to balance, a to-do list shouldn’t be one of those. Having a to-do list on paper and not in your head helps relieve some stress and fret that is a student freelancer’s life. The fewer things I have to remember on a daily basis, like when a project is due, or when I told a client I would have something done by, the better. And it helps to carry the to-do list around with you too, for those on-the-road additions (or subtractions).
Don’t make promises your schedule can’t keep
When you are dealing with clients that have a business of their own, it is important that you keep your promises. If you aren’t sure you can meet a particular deadline because of a major test coming up or any other circumstances, it’s important to not make promises and make sure your client is informed immediately.
If your schedule is crazy busy, then it is best to take extra care in scheduling when it comes to freelancing. For instance, during finals week, I do not schedule any work for a client. This doesn’t mean I won’t work on something if I get the time to, but I just won’t promise out any work for that week (or early the following week).
Since it isn’t easy for students to move test dates or project dates, you have to work around those types of situations. Make sure your schedule is flexible enough to not only accommodate your clients work, but also so that you have ample time to meet deadlines either set by you or your client.
Most importantly, make time for yourself
It is important that everyone takes a little time out for themselves to help avoid burnout. Some ways I take time for myself is running on the treadmill, taking cat naps on the weekends, spending time with my boyfriend, watching a movie, or playing the Wii. When I take time for myself, I always feel great afterwards, and it always helps boost my motivation to tackle client projects or school projects.
We student freelancers always are constantly going and doing things, but following some simple rules and tips will help relieve your stress, boost your productivity, and still give you some time to enjoy things you want to enjoy.
What are some things you do to help manage your hectic student freelance life?