- Toni Koraza is a London-based copywriter, non-fiction editor, and founder of digital agency Mad Company.
- He uses the ‘batched schedule’ method to organize his many freelance duties into manageable tasks.
- Koraza says batching helps him create a better workflow and produce higher quality work in less time.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Bad schedules put freelancers in bad places. Sunday afternoons are hardly enjoyable if 1,142 client messages melt your brain into a veggie soup. An overwhelmed workload can lead you to becoming counterproductive, agitated, and even possibly depressed, anxious, and miserable.
Conversely, a simple and effective schedule can help freelancers deliver timely results across multiple projects while decreasing the risk of job-related burnout.
Following a better schedule will bring the best out of your professional and personal life
I’ve started a short-form publication, published several hundred stories, signed six long-term clients, wrote two book drafts, registered a creative micro-agency in London, and moved countries, all while under various lockdowns and dealing with great uncertainty. I can thank everything for a schedule tweak I discovered only recently.
I started using a ‘batched schedule’ method to better manage the pressure of signing new clients and spreading myself over various digital businesses. With this plan, I sign into my calendar and batch each task to complement the next one. The idea is to create a synergy of work that makes multiple projects not just possible but also enjoyable.
Here’s how to batch together a highly effective schedule and streamline your daily workflow.
1. Create categories for your various tasks
Think of umbrella topics distinct to your freelancing business.
- What clients bring in the most work?
- What are the major topics and niches of your business?
- When do you generate leads and pitch clients?
- What skill do you use the most in your business?
Creative writing is the backbone of my business. I currently have six clients, two of which I work for on a daily basis creating cover content and copy for SEO and other traffic-growth strategies. I answer current and new client proposals between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., together with other requests and emails.
2. Block out time that is non-negotiable for output
Use your peak creative time for high-intensity output. I usually start writing around 9 a.m., and finish over 3,000 words before lunch. I don’t answer calls, messages, or emails between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. You can reach me only if you come banging at my door. The same output is almost impossible at any other time of the day, and therefore is sacred.
3. Assign a daily mission to each specific topic
Every Tuesday, I’m building Mad Company, batching all major publication and startup development tasks for that day. I write reports and promotions in the morning, read submissions, talk to my editor, and schedule upcoming stories. I do work for Good Annotations exclusively on Thursdays and Fridays.
4. Write down your minimum viable task to jumpstart the workflow
Find one action that warms up your freelancing skills. Aim for the intersections of easy, short, and engaging. Personally, I answer a relevant Quora question to kick-start my writing routine. You could also journal about your business, code for a personal project, or shoot a TikTok video.
The focus is on output rather than consumption, so reading news or listening to the radio is not a minimum viable task.
5. Schedule the elephant right after the warm-up
The elephant is the long, audacious, and crucial goal in your freelance schedule. I usually write a few thousand words for a client or my business, often over-delivering on the contract. I sometimes submit three articles on request of one, which my clients never seem to mind.
6. Organize your social interactions
People can drain energy, and you can clutter your mind with countless distractions. If you’re a freelancer, your self-discipline is the backbone of any good and timely work. Schedule calls, messages, and everything that has the power to disrupt your schedule after you’re done with any tasks that require your creative energy. I
deal with most business-related correspondence between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Batching also helps coworkers or clients organize their needs around your schedule.
Using this schedule, I usually sign off at 2 p.m. and have the rest of the day to recharge and enjoy
Working long hours doesn’t mean you’re effective or productive — even Tim Ferriss believes you can’t do more than four hours of productive work in a day. Freelancers can accomplish more in four hours with a batched schedule than in 20 hours of aimless work.
By batching your tasks into complementary groups, assigning groups to each day, and then work during your peak productivity hours, you’ll be able to accomplish your best work in due time and create a healthy work-life balance.
Toni Koraza is a London-based copywriter, non-fiction editor, growth manager at Good Annotations, amateur fiction writer, and founder of digital agency Mad Company. Follow him on Twitter.