Based in Chicago, Illinois, The Freelance Beat is a blog exploring the triumphs and challenges that freelance journalists encounter in their early and mid-careers.

How I'm Reclaiming My Time

How I'm Reclaiming My Time

Did you catch that on-point Congresswoman Maxine Waters started last week? If you didn’t here’s the video of Rep. Waters persistently asking for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to directly answer her question. If you missed it, where have you been? Here’s the video below:

Maxine Waters Grills Steve Mnuchin On Russia & Trump 7/27/17

As a reporter, I sometimes have to press powerful people with questions. But once I watched Rep. Waters demand a direct answer to her simple question, I started to think about various situations in which I wished I could get my time back.

I’m going back to full-time freelancing soon, and I’ve started thinking about how I want to maximize my time. I’ve been working a full-time, contract position, and that’s ending soon. Now I’m taking the time to structure my business and figure out how to best use my time.

So here are some steps I’m going to start taking to reclaim my time:

Exercise more.

When I worked part-time and freelanced, I sometimes went on afternoon walks or did an afternoon yoga practice. I’m a morning person, but I’m way too focused on food to work out, and I’m too tired to work out in the evening. Now that I’m returning to freelance, I want to exercise every day not only for my body but also for my mind. Going for a walk near Lake Michigan gave me time to contemplate life, think about story ideas, and get back in tune with myself.

Focus on projects that matter.

I’ve been working on a couple of long-term, sort-of-investigative projects. I want to focus on longer reported features. I’ve always desired to do impactful work, and now I feel like I have a chance to do it. My focus will be on finding homes for my longer features.

Command higher rates.

I’ve created a database of higher-paying clients, some of whom I have a relationship with and others I don’t. My goal is to target higher-paying clients for my reported features and shift away from “cranking out’’ shorter pieces, though I’ll totally continue to do shorter stories as I see fit. The goal is to do more meaningful work for fairer compensation.

Say “No.”

My grandfather used to say that there aren’t many people who are very satisfied with their job. I’m butchering the saying, but that’s the gist of it. There’s no need to do stuff that you’re not excited about. I want to focus on projects that make me excited to wake up in the morning. It’s nice to have a steady paycheck, and one day I foresee going back to 9-to-5 life. But for now, I want to work on improving my portfolio with pieces that will make me more appealing to editors. And if nothing else, it’ll help me to pitch more ambitious projects in the future.

Use apps and a planner.

I started using Trello for a former client, and I found the platform to be overwhelming at first. But I’ve tried it out again and am getting the hang of it. I have a physical planner for writing down things. (For some reason, I writing things out helps me to remember things better than typing it out).  However, I think the Trello notifications will help my workflow. I can track story ideas from pitching to published. Similar to the way that I’ve used apps like Toggl and Wave to automate my time tracking and accounting, Trello will help me with my project management. (Other platforms like Basecamp or Asana are good for that, too).

Related: Why Taking Time Off Is Good for Work

Freelancers, how are you reclaiming your time? Tell me in the comments or email me at (Yes, your email will actually make it to me).

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