Welcome back to the second week of the Project Management Roadmap. Last week, you learned how to define a detailed project scope. This week, you’ll learn how to fit the work necessary to complete the project into your busy schedule.
For new freelance copywriters, it’s sometimes too easy to assume you have plenty of time to take on any project. And when you don’t have the time … well, sometimes you just figure you’ll find or make the time to get it done. Some people can pull that off. Others miss deadlines or deliver lower-quality products — both surefire ways to ensure you don’t get another project from that customer.
So as we discuss the concept of schedule, I want you to keep in mind that scheduling a project is as much about how it fits into your overall schedule as it is about how long it will take to complete each task.
Are You Available?
You may already use a calendar program on your phone, tablet, or computer to help you schedule your freelance career with your personal life. If not, I want you to start thinking about your overall schedule in terms of block scheduling.
Now, either choose a calendar program you like or get a pen and a piece of paper handy, because we’re getting ready to create a block schedule.
I’m partial to Google Calendar. Why? First, my day job already makes use of the Google ecosystem for email, documents, and scheduling. It just made sense for me to stick with it. Beyond that, it allows me to have multiple Google accounts (personal, full-time job, freelance) and share the calendars with each account.
I make sure to schedule my commitments on the appropriate calendar so I can see each individually. But by sharing them, I can be logged into any one of the accounts and see all three calendars at once. More importantly, I can see where my open blocks of time are in any given day or week with one simple look.
So in your calendar program or on your sheet of paper, I want you to start blocking out time for the following:
- Your non-freelance work including any part-time or full-time job you may have, plus any volunteer work you may do.
- Family commitments big and small. From going to your kid’s soccer game to walking your dog every day at lunch. If it takes more than 15 minutes, put it on your schedule.
- Any personal appointments you may already have scheduled. And don’t forget the appointments you make with yourself — exercise classes, weekly date night with your spouse, or anything else you feel is a priority.
- Any activities you need to do to work on your freelance career. Make sure you include time to develop your skills (write EVERY day), peruse the news or read books looking for that next Big Idea, or self-market (such as add a blog entry to your website or LinkedIn profile). Make time for this stuff now or you’ll find yourself putting it off later.
Got your block schedule all setup? Then you’re ready to tell a potential customer just when you’re available to start.
Now it’s time to figure out how long the project will take. Remember, even if you know a standard white paper will take you 30-40 hours to complete, you still have to figure out how to space that 30-40 hours within your block schedule.