This article is part of our free Freelancing to Financial Freedom series which teaches moms to make a part time income on the side through FREELANCING.
When you’re having problems keeping your household budget balanced, you’ve got two choices: cut back on your spending, or increase your income. However, most single parents have already cut everything out of that household budget already that isn’t absolutely essential. If you’re in that situation, then it’s time to start looking for additional income. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got one or several children, whether they’re toddlers at home or older children at school – there’s a freelance job out there that’s just right for you. All you need to do is find the time to do it.
Now, we are assuming you’ve taken the plunge into the world of freelancing. That is, for the uninformed, you use websites like freelancer.com to find content writing jobs where you get paid to write articles for websites. If you have not started freelance article writing, we highly suggest you read our article topics about how to get started. This is one of the BEST ways for single moms with a few hours of spare time a day looking to make some extra cash working from home (by writing). Here are our articles about this topic (part of the Freelancing to Financial Freedom series):
- How to Make $1000 a Month as an Article Freelancer
- Make Money Online Writing Articles
- How to Make Money With Fiverr.com Gigs
There are several reasons why single moms look for freelance work. Some women have a part-time or full-time job already, but they’re not earning enough money to make ends meet. Some single parents are stay-at-home moms who are looking for a way to get back into the workforce. Other moms have jobs that bring in enough money, but don’t offer any chance for career advancement. Better jobs means better pay, and freelance work that you do in your spare time can get you the skills you need to climb the career ladder.
But first, you need to find the time! You’ll need time to look for freelance work, and then you’ll need the time to do that work. Even if you think you’re busy every minute of the day right now, once you really look at your schedule you’ll probably be surprised to find fifteen minutes here, a half an hour there, or even a two-hour block of time during the week that you could use to make money as a freelancer.
Here are 3 ways you can find time – or make time – for freelancing in your schedule:
1. Find Hidden Free Time Each Day
Being a single parent can be exhausting, and you’ve probably gotten into a routine that you don’t even think about any more. The alarm clock goes off, you get up and get yourself and the kids off to work and school, then the day goes by in a blur. You come home and fix dinner for your family while the kids are doing their homework, and then you gratefully sit down in front of the television for a little mindless entertainment before going to bed and starting the whole cycle over again. But what if you could change that routine, and open up some time for freelancing? You might even find that you have more free time in the end! Try these time-saving changes to your day:
Morning. Use the early morning to plan your day, catch up on your e-mails, or do a little freelance work. Good planning is key to succeeding at freelance work, and if you take fifteen minutes to make sure that all of your work is on schedule and that you’ve answered all of your clients’ e-mails, you’ll save yourself hours later. First thing in the morning can also be a good time to actually work on freelance projects like article writing, which can often been done in less than an hour. If your children are old enough to dress themselves and make their own breakfasts, that gives you a little more time to work.
Evening. Another way to save time and avoid rushing around in the morning is to do as much as possible the night before: get the bowls and cereal out and on the table, pack lunches for school, set out clothes and supplies for the next day. Older children can make their own sack lunches while you’re getting dinner ready, and you’ll be able to spend some quality time with them, talking about their day or any problems they have. Younger children can pick out their own clothes for the next school, and you can make any wardrobe adjustments when you put the kids to bed.
Lunchtime. Do you have a half an hour for lunch at work? Then think about using those thirty minutes to do some freelancing. A used or inexpensive laptop doesn’t need to be connected to the computer to do word processing, so take one to work with you and work on your freelance projects during your lunch break. If you don’t have a small laptop that’s easy to carry around, use paper and pencil instead. Even if you don’t have time to complete projects during this half-hour period, you can at least be jotting down notes and ideas, or planning your work schedule. If you do have an internet connection, you can catch up on your client correspondence. If you generally work at your desk while you eat, you can do your freelancing using your work computer, and then save those files on a flash drive (also called a “thumb drive” or “memory stick”). Just be sure to check with office policy first, and make sure it’s all right to use your work computer for personal projects.
After School. Your child’s homework time can be your freelancing time. If you’re working hard on your projects, you’ll inspire your child to work hard on theirs. You can either work in separate rooms, or work together at the same table. One advantage of working in the same location is that you’ll be available for questions. Of course, the disadvantage is that you’re both more easily distracted. However, if you set rules for this time and treat it as classroom time where work is done quietly, you and your children can both get a lot done during this hour.
2. Organize Your Week For Maximum Productivity
When you’re thinking about your weekly schedule, keep this word in mind: efficiency. Your goal is to make everything you do as productive as possible, and to cut down on wasted time. One of the easiest ways to find more time in the week is to find ways to accomplish as much as you can with each task or time period. Try these tips to make the most of everyday chores:
Shopping. If you’re in the habit of stopping off at the store after work every day, you might think it’s more efficient. After all, you’re on your way home anyway, right? Think again – what about the time stuck in traffic, or waiting in line, or trying to get out of the parking lot? That all adds up. You might also be spending more than you should on individual purchases instead of saving money by buying in bulk. Plan one weekly shopping trip instead, or even one every two weeks if you can.
Cooking. If you’re buying groceries for a week or two in advance, you’ll need to do some meal planning first. Think about things that you can cook ahead to freeze or refrigerate and reheat later. Enchiladas, casseroles, hearty stews, or even a large pot of spaghetti sauce will save you time because you’ll only need to heat them up. You’ll save time both cooking and washing up, and you won’t have to worry if you’re running late that day – there will always be something quick and nutritious in the freezer.
Cleaning. The time you spend cleaning house depends on the size of the house, and how many people and pets are in your family. You might find it’s more efficient to focus on one area each week. Some people prefer to do a quick job on the whole house every week, and then do a more thorough cleaning once a month. If your children are old enough, you can assign them chores to help you, starting with keeping their room clean. Taking care of pets (and their messes) is also a good way to teach kids about responsibility.
Activities. If your kids have after-school sports and activities, do your best to group them together so that you keep the driving back and forth to a minimum. This isn’t always possible, since activity and sports schedules are set by the school or athletic team coach. While it’s important that you’re there to cheer your kids on as they practice, you can also use that time to work on your laptop or write in your notebook.
3. Plan A Month Ahead
A lot of freelance jobs can be done in a smaller period of time. For example, you might be able to spend fifteen minutes doing data entry, or take half an hour to write an article, or use a free hour to do research for a larger project. Getting the free time for those larger projects isn’t always easy. Some jobs require you to spend two or more hours at the computer at once, such as online customer service jobs. If you’re looking for a career as a freelance writer you’ll need to have time that’s free of distractions so that you can do your own research and writing. In order to create larger blocks of free time in your schedule, you’ll need to organize your time on a larger scale. Buy or make a calendar with plenty of room to write on, then follow these three steps to take control of your monthly schedule:
Step 1: Block out things you can’t control. If your kids are in school, you’re going to have the same set of dates every other parent has to mark on the calendar. Most schools will send home a calendar for the month or the semester. You can also check the school’s website for important dates. Use the school calendar to start writing in the things you have to be available for, like sports events, recitals, or parent-teacher days. Be sure to add in days reserved for teacher training (usually called “in-service days”) because there is no school that day. If you work outside the home, you’ll need to plan for day care or time off for those days.
Step 2: Write in things you have some control over. Once you have all of the school events on the calendar, add the things that you need to schedule regularly, like doctor’s visits, dental check-ups, or any regular events like church services, after-school activities like library story time, or monthly or weekly play dates you’ve arranged with other parents. If possible, slot these into spaces on days that are already almost full. If you’re already driving around doing errands, try to do as many as possible on one day.
Step 3: Add things you can be flexible about. Now you can add other family events, like birthdays, vacations and special treats, or visits to relatives and friends. See if any of those can be moved around to fill in almost-full days.
Your goal is to have as many large blocks of free time as possible. Try to find entire half days if you can, and a day with 8 hours of free time is even better. It’s a good idea to write those in on the calendar as well, just like any other commitment. After all, if you take on a freelance job, you have to be committed to finishing it, and that’s what your new blocks of free time are for. If it turns out that you have already finished your work, and you don’t have any current projects to work on that day, you can use that time for other things. Catch up on little things around the house. Spend time playing with your kids if they’re there – or relaxing and enjoying some quiet time if they’re not! You can devote the time to looking for more freelance work, so that you have something to do during your next freelance work period. You can even take care of a chore that’s scheduled on the calendar for the next day, and then change that day’s schedule to show freelancing time instead.
Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll avoid the stress that comes from feeling like you have too little time to do everything in a day. Make time for freelancing, and you’ll make money – and that’s a stress reliever for sure.