The first time freelancer’s juggling act

comments 17

It’s been about a month now since I’ve been juggling my day-to-day work as a contract web designer and my side gig as a freelance art director and I can honestly say that I am enjoying it. The juggling part, not so much.

Falling into a deadly routine

Let me explain. I think I’ve fallen into the same routine that most first time freelancers fall into. Firstly, I’m prioritising the items that will give me money. Logical right? I don’t want to be spending hours working on something and it not being paid work. Sadly, that means that I still haven’t finished off the design work, let alone started building, my own company’s website. *deep sigh*

Secondly, I’m working a heck of a lot more than I did when I was a good ol’ permie. I thought this would be the case. For the most part, I don’t mind it. But I have been noticing that I’m feeling a bit more drained these days. I’ve developed a slightly silly bad habit that if I know I’ve got a fair bit of work to do in the evenings after work, I’ll cobble together a dinner that probably needs more to it, just to save time. Said time is then spent working. Combine this with weekend working and you’ve got one tired girl.

I knew it would be something like this in the beginning. Though I always thought of myself as a pretty well structured individual, in terms of my timekeeping and balancing. Clearly, I still have a lot to learn.

Getting Strict on Myself

From now on, I need to add more balance. Be more efficient. Heck, maybe even draw up an actual schedule that I stick to strictly. Take into account things like getting some exercise and even those mundane household chores that need doing. Last week, it was such a busy one that I actually forgot to go food shopping! Ever tried eating Weetabix with a few spoonfuls of milk? I did. Monday morning. Wow, that was dry.

Also, I’m picking up my camera a lot less. Focussing instead on the work I need to get done. Perhaps I need to schedule some ‘fun’ time for me. Wow, scheduling fun. I am a bloody rock star.

Don’t Get Me Wrong

I’m not averse to hard work. I enjoy my work, so it rarely ever feels like hard work. I just want to make sure I’m doing the right sort of hard work. You know?

This is sort of me thinking out aloud. Writing this up here makes it real and permanent. Rather than just casually thinking, I need to re-think my working patterns.


  1. I wrote myself a schedule recently before realising there aren’t enough hours in the week. I’ve never looked at it since! Good luck with the time management!

  2. The older I get and the more responsibilities I have, I now have to schedule time with friends and fun whereas before we’d just randomly meet up. Good luck with balancing everything Jaina!

    • Thanks Humaira. Growing up, responsibilities, so much to do!

      Oh and when are we going to see another blog post from you?

  3. Hey Jaina, I can relate. I also have problems finding the right balance. It’s hard juggling a full-time job, a blog, freelance projects and still having a social life! Glad to hear the freelancing is going well for you, though!

    • I’m enjoying the freedom of knowing that if my contract or freelance job isn’t what I want it to be, I can do something about it quickly. So definitely think I made the right move for myself right now. It’s a little bit fun not really knowing where I could be in a couple of months time.

  4. Yeah, it’s like the shoemaker has no shoes syndrome. I haven’t got time to create my own site myself, so I’ve just been updating my Linked In as I’ve finished some projects or reached a certain milestone. Best of luck w/ everything, Jaina, I think you are one super talented designer!

    • Glad I’m not the only one struggling! Thanks for the luck. Will take it and bottle it for a rainy day!

  5. Try and make up a load of stuff at the weekend that you can keep in the fridge/freezer and easily put together into quick-but-nutritious meals during the week. I’ve just discovered Audi beans which, although a far to prep they keep well in the fridge and are nice either cold in a salad or cooked up in a dish.

    I also use an hours tracker app and I have set up a “client” for work on my business which helps me track what I’m doing and gives it a status against my other paid clients. You could also try giving yourself blocks of time to do stuff in, work in: 30min- an hour planning here and there and then a couple of hours implementation every few days. The planning is key, both for what you want to achieve during the week and in planning what you are going to do when so you don’t waste time thinking about it each time you sit down to do some work for “you”. A good ‘to-do’ app is also useful (I use things) to keep track of what you want to get done and to assign priorities to each task.

    Sounds like you’ve got lots going on though which is always great for a freelance business!!

  6. Also, of your eating is a bit erratic, make sure you’re taking a good multi-vitamin to cover any gaps in the diet and prevent you getting run down/tired.

    • I’ve been trying to make sure I eat a big lunch and then at dinner, eat something lighter. I never usually eat 2 big meals in the day and I know, if I can eat a proper good lunch, I won’t need to eat much apart from a salad and fruit in the evenings. More so when the temperature rises. Not that it is doing that here. But it’s a good tip. Left overs are a good meal!

      I’ve got a to-do app to sort out the little mundane things that I need to keep a track. Though, need to get an app that I can categorise the items. That would definitely be useful.

      It’s all about making the best of the time you’ve got. I like the idea of working in blocks. As a designer/developer, I know that sometimes I can get antsy about doing just one of those things and need to shake things up a little. Also, I need to fit in learning in there too, as I don’t want me skills to stagnate. But that thought in the back of my mind is always there, “you’re not getting paid to do this….”…. shusssh!

  7. I also have this issue. I have so many projects going on that it is hard to give them all the equal time they require!! Sucks!

    I wish you all the best with this one Jaina!! If anyone can do it, you can!!

  8. Nothing with organizing and balancing your life! It makes the quality of life so much better! Life just gets busier and busier so better to start understanding yourself, your limits, and what makes you happy, NOW.

    • Now being the operative word. It’s true. Life does keep getting busier and all you can do is get on and get yourself sorted.

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