As freelancers, one of the things we dread the most is not having work, right? However, all of us have already had some unwanted time off, still have and will keep having. It’s the normal flow in freelancing, there’s no escape. We cannot predict nor prevent it, only learn how to best make use of it – without freaking out. 😉
When I started out, I used to work every single day – including weekends and holidays – almost around the clock (I used to sleep only about 3 to 4 hours a night, when I slept). So downtimes were actually really welcome back then. They meant sleeping. Since nowadays I have a normal work life, i.e. working only during business hours, rarely more than that, I have to make great use of the available time I have.
The subject has come up to me because I’m currently facing some downtime myself. Yesterday, a client cancelled a project last minute and I had no other project scheduled after that. I already had some tasks scheduled to be done “sometime”, so it was just perfect! Yesterday, I made some calls to make doctor appointments (finally!), I e-mailed clients/colleagues/friends whose addresses I did not have in order to ask them to provide it and also did some accounting. Today, I wrote this post, booked a couple of bus tickets, organized some drawers and sent some e-mails. And the time was not enough to do everything I needed to do.
Apart from our regular to-dos, something I came up with for downtimes is scheduling future blog posts. I know some people already do that, but I don’t. I usually write/post them in the same day. And we all know this takes a lot of time, even though it’s a guest post. Therefore, I could save a lot of time for the future.
Doing some accounting, organizing the office, organizing the files in the computer, brainstorming ideas for everything, contacting prospects/clients/ex-clients, updating the CV and updating your social media information are only some of the things we all already know we can do on our free times. Now it’s up to you to find out what other things you could be doing to make better use of every second you have during your business hours when you suddenly find your schedule free.
As to the part of freaking out, or at least worrying a bit, about not having work, I guess we’ll always feel that. It’s natural instinct. Even though we know downtimes are temporary and they come and go, we can’t help feeling butterflies in the stomach thinking “no work, no pay” and wondering how long it will last. It always happens to me, so I won’t even bother telling you not to do so. 😉
How do you leverage your downtimes?