Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Time management for the freelancer

Between my last post about the kind of freelance income I bring in, and a recent Moneyville post, Here’s how I juggle 3 jobs, I’ve been receiving a few e-mails and comments regarding my freelancing income, time management tips, and if it’s all even worth it. I’m also finding that when I tell people that I work a part-time job, blog regularly, and freelance – along with my full-time job, their first reaction is always to assume that I’m a workaholic who never has time for myself. Or anything fun. And that’s simply just not true.

Yes, I work a lot. That is a fact. But if I didn’t like my work, I wouldn’t do it. I believe in working hard, not being miserable.

Here’s a typical week for me:

(‘Freelance’ blocks of time also include my PT job, and working on this blog)

While this is just a rough estimate of my weekly schedule, you can see that there is plenty of wiggle room when it comes to available hours during the week. I don’t hesitate to take a night off of work during the week if I want to see friends, or if I have another priority – because I know I have extra time during the week to make up for it. Some weeks I work much, much more than this. And other weeks, I work much less. But this is the schedule I am for, and it’s what I usually end up working.

I still have fun. (Writing and blogging is fun!) I also still have time to myself. I still sleep in on the weekends. I still see my friends just as often as before. And I travel more now than I ever have.

The key is not to waste time. I try not to let myself get distracted. You’d be surprised at how much extra time you spend doing a task when you allow yourself get distracted by something. Watching YouTube videos and cruising Facebook when you should be working is not a good use of your time. Especially when other people are counting on you to get a job done. Just like budgeting and prioritizing my money, I budget and prioritize my time.

My iPhone
This wonderful device has helped me out so much. Not only can I e-mail or call clients on the fly, but I can also monitor both blogs, and social media activities while I’m out. I also have a Google calendar app, which holds all my appointments and commitments, and I also make sure to type out blog post ideas as they come to me. It’s great for helping me stay organized – especially when I’m traveling – and I feel absolutely lost without it.

The numbers
To put this into perspective: it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that I work an extra 20 hours/week on my PT job, blogging here and freelancing projects. Let’s also say that I meet my goal of earning an additional $25,000 in freelancing/side income this year. With an additional $25,000, I would fall within the same provincial and federal tax brackets that I am currently in.

20 hours x 52 weeks = 1,040 hours/year
$25,000 / 1,040 =  $24/hour

Is $24/hour worth it? To me it is.

I work hard because I want to
When I was getting out of debt, I didn’t have to work two full-time jobs and a part-time job. But I wanted to, because I wanted to achieve my goal of becoming debt-free as fast as possible. And that’s the same story now. I don’t have to work as much as I do. But it’s a choice I’ve made in order to achieve goals that I have set out for myself. It’s true that I can’t keep up this pace forever. But I have the energy and time while I’m young, so I’m seizing the opportunity to work now, because you never know what might happen in the future.

A part-time job isn’t for everyone. But it always just kills me when people my age say that they don’t have time for one. It’s one thing to not want a part-time job. I get that. But to say that you want one, but don’t have the time? Come on. You don’t have children or go to school. Whatever you’re doing with your time, is that more important than your goal of getting out of debt, buying a condo, or going on that dream trip to Europe? If you really want to incorporate a part-time job into your life, sacrifices have to be made.

Being a freelancer is hard work, but it is also fulfilling. So to me, the sacrifice is worth it for now. To you, it might not be. But the point is, for most of us, with a little time management, working a part-time job is possible if you want it to be. But that’s a big if.

**Please note that I am not an expert on anything to do with time management, freelancing, or making money in general. This post is just a reflection of my experiences and observations. I’ve been a freelance graphic designer for the past 5 years, and a freelance writer/blogger for 6 months.

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. says:

    This. This is just what I needed to read. Thanks.

  2. Katy says:

    You're an inspirational, Krystal! I need to start blocking my time too and stop getting distracted from my tasks… one of my worse habits!
    My recent post Gym Etiquette: Follow Or Go Home

  3. KC says:

    Thanks for sharing this tips, especially your personal weekly schedule. Time management is essential which allows freelancers to do work and meet deadline. In my personal experience I believe that in order to manage time is with discipline this way you can easily ignore work distractions.

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