The Balance Between Freelance & University

February 9, 2018

So, what do you do?

To this question, I answer that “I’m a student but I have my own freelance business on the side!”. Then on rolls the conversation whereby they ask how on earth do I cram everything in? Honestly, sometimes I don’t even know. But, let me tell you how I just about manage, anyway…

My editorial calendar is my BFF

Both Charlotte and Elizabeth have great posts on creating editorial calendars for those bloggers out there. However, I took their tips on board and I have created my own editorial calendar for my business.

Being a student (and for my own sanity), it’s handy for me to have things colour-coded. So in terms of my own calendar, I have everything related to university in blue, all of my personal appointments in green, and everything involving my freelance work colour-coded in purple. Find what works for you!

I personally find having everything synced to both your laptop and phone, comes in handy. You can easily add new meetings, coffee dates and deadlines – whatever it is – at the touch of a button, and everything will be ready for you on your other devices.

I set a schedule to suit me

Luckily, I have been blessed with a rather lovely University timetable this year, whereby I have a whole Wednesday off from uni and Thursday and Friday afternoons free. I have decided to set my day off as my  ‘Freelance Day’ (or ‘Freelance Morning’, depending on how much work I have to do!).

On this day off, I usually like to get up quite early (around 7:00 or 8:00 a.m) and I aim to be in the library by 9:00 a.m. My usual desk set-up involves my laptop (plus charger), a strong brew, and a good podcast or some ethereal tunes (Cue Mac DeMarco).

I plan my week accordingly with my editorial calendar, and the app Wunderlist (see here) which is a lifesaver! Normally, I will sit down for fifteen minutes or so, on a Sunday morning or evening and plan my week ahead. The good thing about Wunderlist, is that you can set different lists for each task. For example: I have tabs called: University Work, Freelance Work and Personal Tasks.

My university work comes first

Believe it or not, I’m one of those students who turns up to most of their lectures, and hands their work in on time (total nerd, I know!) all the while trying to balance a personal life, and have everything on track. This is where the extra couple of afternoons that I have off on a Thursday and Friday come in handy! For the most part, therefore, University comes first and foremost, since my freelance business is part-time.

Procrastination isn’t really ideal when I know that I need to do my university work, so I have the chrome extension installed called Strict Workflow (download here). This is similar to other extensions such as StayFocusd (something, which I have also used in the past). With extensions such as these, you can block certain sites that you find yourself browsing when you know in the back of your mind you should be doing something else other than scrolling on twitter.

Try different work settings

In a recent post, I discussed my favourite coffee shops to work in. I think it’s important to test out different working environments, to see which best suits you. I personally find it best working in a quieter environment when I know that I either have a deadline due, or I really need to focus on a certain task or piece of work.

For the most part, I’m more than happy to let the hours go by, sat in a coffee shop with a cup of coffee and my headphones in whilst say typing away at a blog post, or doing more laid-back work (such as some casual not-so-urgent work for a client, or a bit of reading for an essay).

You are allowed to socialise and take breaks

Take this evening and this weekend for example. I’m going out to a little house party tonight (and I’m choosing not to go out afterwards because I’m just not feeling it), and my sister is coming to visit me for a couple of days. Activities like this should be looked forward to and not something to force yourself into.

I can understand that often big social events may be daunting (trust me, I’ve been there), so if you do feel that you won’t be comfortable in a massive room full of people, perhaps suggest meeting up for coffee with one or two close friends (course mates or even flatmates are perfect for this!)

Remember also, you’re allowed to book time off from everything, take a breather. You’re allowed to watch the whole series of Stranger Things or Friends re-runs (Yes, I’ve been guilty of this). Recently, I became vegetarian and I’ve found cooking very therapeutic and I’ve been pretty proud of some of the dishes I have made so far. So, whatever you find most calming, then go and bloody well do it and don’t feel guilty.

I hope you found this post useful for those of you who are also a student and wanting to go freelance! Know someone who would like this post? Share it with them and please leave a comment below. I love to have a conversation!

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