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Chapter
1

Identify priority activities outside work

As a freelancer, you get to enjoy one of the best benefits of working for yourself: your time is yours. You have flexibility and freedom over how you spend it. Depending on the day, this can feel liberating or terrifying.

We believe that all freedom needs a fluid structure behind it. We’ll walk you through how to craft a weekly schedule that supports work-life harmony by creating a balance between your personal needs, work needs, preferences, and social health. You’ll feel connected to others throughout your week, even if you work mostly by yourself. Groovy, huh? 

Some of us are scheduling addicts and love to timebox everything. Others might like to be more spontaneous and play it by ear. This process works for both ends of the spectrum, and for everyone in between. Feel free to get as granular and structured as you like, or treat your schedule as an intentional guide to the week that you can adjust as you go. 

Important reminder: If all this is feeling scary, remember that you have a FREE tool available to you to help you maintain work-life harmony: Groove!

One of our first Groovers, Becca Dudley, says: “Groove holds [her] accountable to get work done, to feel good about it, to feel like [she’s] part of a community, to feel like [she’s] not working on things alone.” 

Say goodbye to the scariest parts of freelancing. Groove’s got your back.

In this playbook, you’ll create a personalized schedule, for your week that helps you feel socially connected, making time for all the priorities in your life inside and outside of paid work. Here using this template, Below is a copy of Sam’s schedule. Sam is a fellow solopreneur who'll go through this playbook alongside you. You’ll see how they reshape their day to fit their energy and needs.

Defining social health and work-life harmony

Social health: A key component of mental health, social health is essentially the opposite of loneliness. It’s “the dimension of well-being that comes from connection and community.” 

Freelancers don’t have traditional coworkers or a team around them, but that means there’s an opportunity to create new relationships that are supportive and energizing. It can feel daunting though, so this guide will give you the steps to create a socially connected week that keeps your social health front and center.

Work-life harmony: Your work and life fit into each other in a complementary way.

Sounds vague? That’s kinda the point! Our lives have changed a lot in the past few years, along with our relationship to work. There’s no “one size fits all” approach. You may love a commute to a co-working space and working fixed hours, or you may feel best working in PJs in bed at night. This is what fluid structure is all about — finding a system and relationship that works for you.

Your time is finite, be thoughtful about how you chose to spend it 

With freelancing, you can design your work around your life, so we should start first with your life

Oliver Burkeman writes about how our lives are finite and have limited hours in them in his fantastic book Four Thousand Weeks. Usually, our to-do list is longer than the hours we have, so we sometimes start with the easiest, most urgent, or most externally accountable tasks first.

But that’s approaching it all wrong — because our time is finite, we need to put our most important tasks first, or else we get through all the urgent tasks and have no time left for what really matters. 

And with that, we’d like to introduce you to Sam. Sam is a super solopreneur who runs their own business as a life coach. They love their work and feel fortunate to work with some pretty cool clients who are eager to learn and grow. But at the same time, Sam is trying to keep a little more space in their life for their passions: baking and rock climbing.

Determine your “can’t miss” activities

Determine your non-negotiables that work must fit around. Work is important, but your life outside work is even more important. By building your work schedule around your life priorities, you’re ensuring you’re making time for them.

1. In your workbook, list out all the activities you already participate in — daily, weekly, and monthly. 

  • Include with what frequency, times, and dates of the week these happen. These can be for fun, self-improvement, or commitments to others (e.g. daycare dropoff M-F, pottery class, volunteering, daily journaling time, etc).

Here’s what Sam’s activity chart looks like:

2. Take a look at your list and start to prioritize. 

  • Do you want to keep all of these activities? Are there any you participate in that you actively wouldn’t mind stopping? Just because you’ve done it for a while, doesn’t mean you need to keep doing it. This is a space to reflect on what’s important and brings you joy.

  • Which ones are non-negotiables and which ones are flexible?

3. Beyond this list, are there any activities you’d like to add or do with more frequency?

  • Be realistic here — sure, we’d all like to take up gardening, but is this a priority goal for you right now? 

4. Beside each activity, list the intention behind it. What are you gaining in your life by making space and time for this?

5. Now it gets tough. Rank the importance of each activity, and again, try to be realistic. Not everything can be a high priority. 

  • Low priority: You’d like to fit this in, but it really doesn’t need to be done for you to feel balanced and taken care of.

  • Medium priority: This is in line with your goals, but could be adapted, or could be given or taken depending on the time. If something needs to happen, it could be adjusted (e.g. your partner does daycare drop-off on alternating days).

  • High priority: This is super in line with your values and goals for this particular season. It also might be something that just needs to happen.

Take particular note of the intentions, and if you need those intentions in your life right now. Has that affected the priority right now? 

6. Before we end with compiling the “Yes” list, let’s make your “No” list. Mark which activities you are going to pass on for now. As Oliver Burkeman writes, we can’t do everything, so it’s important to note what we’re actively saying “no” to. It might be just for this season.

7. Look at your “yes” list. Add up an estimate of how many hours this is.

  • Given a week is 168 hours, you need around 56 hours to sleep, and we haven’t even added in work or non-scheduled leisure time or rest, is your list realistic? If not, move more to the “no” column, or reimagine the activity as something that could take less time.

8. Take your final list and add them to your calendar template in your workbook.

It'll look something like this:

Recap

You now have a list of non-negotiable, “life” activities that you can start to plan your workaround, which we’ll do in Step 2. 

By starting with this list, you’re honoring yourself and your commitment to this wavy career path you’ve chosen.  

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