How to Set Work Hours as a Freelancer – Succeed in 7 Steps

When you’re a freelancer, there are many topics on the table that are not precisely known. When you are on a full-time job you know how many work hours you are working in a workweek, and you have set vacation days and company holidays. As a freelancer, these topics become a little more blurry. You might be asking yourself things like:
How many hours should I work?
What is the best time of day to work?
Should I take vacations?
How do I set company holidays?

Let’s explore each of these questions so that you can make an educated decision on how to set your work hours as a freelancer. First, we must understand that when you’re a freelancer you are your own boss. Therefore, it is important to be honest with yourself about the amount of time you are willing and able to work. It is essential to find a balance between working too much and not working enough. If you overwork yourself you will quickly become burnt out, which will lead to subpar work and could damage your reputation. On the other hand, if you don’t put in enough effort then you likely won’t meet deadlines or make enough money to sustain yourself. It is vital to find that happy medium where you are working hard but not putting your health at risk.

freelance work hours

1. Define your work hours.

As a freelancer, you have the freedom to set your own work hours – but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to do. You should keep a few things in mind when setting your work hours, including your client’s needs, your productivity, and avoiding burnout. It’s essential to be realistic when setting your work hours and to remember that you may need to be flexible at times. You can use different ways to set your work hours, don’t be afraid to experiment with it – you may find that you’re more productive at certain times of day or week than you thought.

2. Set a daily schedule and stick to it.

After you define your work hours, the second step is to set a schedule because we want to make it consistent. However, this can also be a challenge, as you need to be disciplined in order to be successful. Here are some tips on how to set scheduled work hours as a freelancer:

  • Decide what hours you are going to work each day, and stick to it.
  • Make sure you take breaks, and allow yourself some flexibility.
  • Disconnect from work when you’re not working, so you can enjoy your free time.
  • Don’t work too many hours, or you’ll burn yourself out.
  • Set a daily schedule and stick to it, but be prepared to adjust it as needed.
  • Leave a short time for scheduling your daily tasks, for ex., 10 minutes.
  • Keep track of your work hours, so you can see how productive you are.

3. Don’t overwork yourself.

Setting and sticking to regular work hours as a freelancer is essential, but as I said at first, we need to be realistic. Find a work balance that works for you, and stick to it. Otherwise, we’ll end up burning ourselves out.

Working too much can lead to health issues, so it’s crucial to find a balance that works for us. We need to be able to enjoy our free time and not feel like we’re constantly working. We don’t want to end up resenting our work, and that’s not good for anyone.

So, the key is finding a balance. Your work will thank you for it.

4. Take breaks and vacation days.

After deciding on work hours and scheduling it, we need to get one step back and look for longer. Let’s decide what kind of work schedule we want. This step is for scheduling the week. As a freelancer, you can work whenever you want, but that doesn’t mean you should be working all the time. Make sure to take vacation days! In fact, it might be even more important for freelancers to take vacations. When we have set work hours, we can easily get burnt out from working too much. Scheduling some vacation days will help ensure that you stay fresh and motivated with your work.

On the other hand, you don’t need to create a strict schedule, and you can be flexible and adjust it as needed.

5. Learn to say no.

In the first 4 steps, you defined your work hours, set daily and weekly schedules and vacation days. Now you know how many work hours you have in a week and how many hours are free. You can be flexible on it, but try not to overcommit yourself, or you’ll end up burning out. Learn to say no to projects that aren’t a good fit for you. Prioritize your time so you can focus on the most critical tasks. In my entire freelance life, I have declined projects more than I accepted. Some of the clients came back to me with different projects. I wrote something on Twitter about it. Please take a look at it;

6. Train Your Clients

I want to make it another step because sometimes our clients don’t know about how we do things, and it may be harmful both to the project and our working structure. If you are working continuously with a client, you may need to train the client to respect your work hours by setting clear boundaries and expectations. Be gentle but at the same time firm with your clients, and don’t let them take advantage of your time. Make sure your clients understand your work hours and stick to them. If your clients don’t respect your work hours, you may need to find new clients.

7. Set Your Communication Channels

There is a crucial point on freelancing. I’m not sure this topic belongs to this post, but it mostly affects work hours. To keep your structure great and working, you need to establish clear communication channels with your clients. By doing this, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and that work is getting done efficiently. Use the communication channels which feel comfortable. But sometimes, you may determine the best method of communication for each client. Some may prefer email, while others may prefer phone calls or video chats. Have a system and be flexible with different clients. Don’t forget these tips;

  • Make sure your clients know your availability and how to reach you.
  • Let your clients know what to expect in terms of response times.
  • Keep your communication channels open and accessible.
  • Respond to your clients in a timely and professional manner.

By following these tips, you can ensure that you have a clear and effective way to communicate with your clients, which will in turn help to make your work hours more efficient.

If you are new to freelancing, take a look at our guide, “How to Get Your First Client.”

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