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Freelancers: How Setting Office Hours Can Make You More Productive

Setting Office Hours
By Artist's Strategy
Joshua Morgan

Creative entrepreneurs are cursed with the supposed “blessing” of unstructured time. That doesn’t necessarily mean we have lots of free time, just lots of time being used in lots of different ways. While most of us understand the process of starting and completing our art, it’s harder to understand the limits as it pertains to our businesses. It can feel like the work will never end. One of the more effective ways to combat your ever growing list of varied action items set against our fairly unstructured time is to set office hours.

“Setting office hours helps with overall accountability, allowing you to follow through with your weekly action items.”

We often avoid larger tasks (plan updates, marketing calendar overhaul) or even small ones (updating our budget, social media engagement, responding to e-mails) and with set times to conquer the work, we know we’ll have an end point. Having an end point is just as important as a starting point because it gives you the peace of mind to know that this can’t and won’t continue on forever. Knowing you’ll be done for the day with only 45 minutes to go may encourage you to power through and get ‘er done.

Setting office hours will allow you to create a schedule you’re more likely to adhere to and can play into the times that work best for you. I’m great between 8 AM and 11 AM, for example. Those are my “golden hours” where I feel most motivated and creative.

“Do you have a time of day when you are most ready and able? Maybe schedule your office hours during that time, where you will be the least distracted and most present.”

And try to schedule other pieces of your life around those key hours so that you can find as much consistency with the work as possible.

Finding consistency in your office hours doesn’t mean working every day from 11 AM-4 PM. It means being able to work around the rest of your life and responsibilities with some sense of regularity and respect for when you work best. For example, if you want to go to the gym at 9 AM most days, you can start work at 12 PM. Or – if you have a rehearsal at 3 PM, you can work from 11 AM – 2 PM or 6:30 PM – 8 PM, accordingly.

Per the above, while this can be one of the clear benefits of being an entrepreneur, it can often lead to not setting any hours or setting too many hours. Finding that beautiful life / work balance will allow you to appreciate the structure you’ve built for your work and subsequent goals while avoiding becoming a slave to your to do lists.

5 tips on setting your freelance office hours!

  1. Even if they’re ever changing, try to set your office hours at least a week ahead.
  2. If you find that “other” e-mails / texts have a tendency to throw you off course or distract you, create a second e-mail address dedicated to work that you only check during office hours.
  3. Find a space for your work that is distraction free (maybe not a loud coffee shop? Or maybe a loud coffee shop if your significant other, dog or roommate will constantly need something from you?)
  4. Find a structure for your office hours so that you have a plan for getting through your work (prioritized daily lists, an order of daily work A. E-Mails B. Texts C. Social Media engagement D. etc.)
  5. Set personal boundaries with those around you or those who reach out most frequently by saying “I’ll be working tomorrow from 9-12:30 so I’ll probably be out of pocket”.

By the way, being very busy doesn’t necessarily mean there is lots of structure to your time. In fact, being busy can often lead to “busy work” (work that isn’t based on a plan but that is fleeting and inconsequential) because when we weigh out our priorities (assuming the top priority is the organization of your business), we *need* something like office hours to keep us moving forward in the midst of it “all”. And lord knows “all” strikes a chord, huh?

 

By Joshua Morgan for Artist’s Strategy.
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Artist's Strategy

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