Since I’ve started full-time freelancing, I’ve been spending a lot of time figuring out how to structure my day. I need to make time for developing relationships with new clients, while also working on existing projects, invoicing, and taking classes or reading so I can stay on top of changing trends in the business. When there’s not a set schedule to your day, sometimes things can feel overwhelming. It’s almost like if you’re not actively working on a project that’s due tomorrow and typing your face off then you must be wasting your time. Then I saw this article from The Huffington Post that talks about how some of the most brilliant people (Ben Franklin, Charles Darwin, and Beethoven, for example) spent their time.
What I found most interesting was that these people spent a lot of time on their work, naturally, but that they also spent plenty of hours during the day doing other things. They were reading, writing letters, going for walks, or socializing. They didn’t have this obsession with being “busy” that we seem to have, where if you’re not actively working on something due immediately then you’re wasting your time.
In many ways, down time is a crucial part of career success. If you don’t give yourself time to recuperate after a long day, you’re on the fast track to Burnout City. Sometimes it’s hard for me to turn off my computer and read, write in my journal, or do another non-work thing before bed. In fact, I probably should be doing that now instead of writing this post. Also, it can be hard to make time for learning new things when you’re busy trying to work and build your career. It seems more profitable to be out finding new clients than it does to be taking a class. But while you want to keep growing your business, don’t minimize the importance of learning and expanding your skills.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a freelancer like me or whether you work in a more traditional office: the way you approach your day matters. If you’re constantly in a frenzy and have no method to your madness, eventually you’re going to burnout. Instead, build in plenty of time to get your work done, but also place a value on relaxation and learning new skills. Deadlines matter, but you always want to make sure you’re focusing on what your career will look like down the road, not just in the hours and days when you finally turn in that project you’ve been slaving away on for weeks.