Freelance After 50 Newsletter

F50 Issue #3: Design Your Life and Schedule

Published 10 months ago • 5 min read

F50 Issue #3: August 15, 2023

Designing Your Life and Schedule

Have you ever walked a dog and felt like the dog was walking you? It’s the feeling you get when you’re at the mercy of your goals.

At first, life is good. You may start out with the perfect schedule, like the perfect canine companion. But that dog gets switched for other dogs as your success grows and your schedule fills up.

Maybe your first dog is small, like a chihuahua. It’s excitable and pulls you in different directions, eager to explore everything.

Then in the next block you’re handed a St. Bernard, like the one in the NeoCitran cold and flu medication commercial from the 1980s. It knows where it needs to go and drags you along while it fulfills its mission.

Finally, as you pursue more goals, the walk speeds up. You’re handed a greyhound and find yourself running down the street, struggling to keep up.

Life is like this too sometimes if you let your goals overrun your schedule. Whether you’re working, retired, or unretired, it’s easy to sacrifice your work-life balance and preferred lifestyle.

Fortunately, as we’ve talked about in previous issues, freelancing offers additional freedoms, like the ability to design your own schedule. When you become a freelancer, you can choose the type of work that fits into the life you want to live.

For example, many freelancers build their schedule around important needs:

  • Health issues - ability to work from home and take more breaks, attend medical appointments and special exercise programs that are only available during the day.
  • Family needs - ability to help family members and look after grandchildren by having a flexible schedule.
  • Lifestyle preferences - ability to travel, work from different locations, and design an ideal work schedule suited to either a morning person or night owl.

So, let’s get that dog walking under control. Here are five questions to ask yourself so you can enjoy a life and schedule filled with freedom, fulfillment, and financial opportunities:

1. Why do you need a schedule?

This might seem like an obvious question, but it’s an important one to think about. A schedule is more than just a way to remember what you need to do. It gives you purpose.

A article titled “Lesson One: Who Do You Want to be Next?” explains the benefits of having a purpose:

“Purpose is one of four core dimensions of well-being, along with awareness, connection, and insight. Having a sense of purpose is key to attaining life satisfaction, a more rewarding state than fleeting moments of happiness.
There are more pragmatic benefits, too. Science shows leading a purpose-driven life can help improve memory and cognitive abilities and lowers the risk of serious health issues like heart problems and stroke. It’s also correlated to enjoying a higher income and net worth.”

If you’re working, a schedule will keep you focussed and productive. And if you’re retired, a schedule will give you more freedom, not less. It provides a structure for your goals so they don’t upend your life.

2. What do you value most in life?

Now think about your ideal lifestyle and where you most meaningfully spend your time. Those things can be part of your greater purpose and serve as the main focus of your activities.

As you design your schedule, ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s missing that you want to regain in your life?
  • What do you want to protect within your schedule?
  • What brings joy to your life?

In other words, what are you most grateful for? Reflect on the things that give you purpose and make you want to get out of bed in the morning.

3. What do you need to do?

No matter what stage of life you’re in (working, retired, or unretired), make a list of the things you need to do each day, each week, and each month. Some examples are:

  • Working at a job
  • Doing laundry
  • Preparing meals
  • Doing yard work
  • Taking care of loved ones
  • Cleaning your home
  • Driving grandchildren to school
  • Attending medical appointments.

Note when you typically perform these tasks and how much time you need to devote to each one. Also, determine when you need to be available for loved ones, especially if you’re in a caregiving role.

4. What do you want to do?

Now brainstorm the types of endeavors you want to pursue now or in the future. Here are some ideas:

  • Volunteer work
  • A new hobby or exercise program
  • Educational courses to learn new skills
  • A new job or freelance contract
  • Social groups
  • Quality time with friends and family
  • Quiet time on your own.

If you decide you’d like to begin freelancing as a new income opportunity, figure out the kind of work you’d enjoy that would also fit into your lifestyle. For example, some freelance jobs have daily, weekly, or monthly deadlines that allow you to choose how you organize your time.

That way, you can include the things you value most along with the things you need and want to do.

5. How will you manage your schedule?

Now that you have your lists, it’s time to design your ideal schedule. Choose how you want to live and create a way of life that brings you joy and balance.

To manage your schedule, use a physical wall calendar, a personal organizer like a Day-Timer, or a digital tool like Google Calendar,

Then, choose a method of organizing your time. For example, we often recommend “time blocking” to increase productivity. This method involves creating a schedule of daily tasks with specific blocks of time devoted to specific tasks.

It allows you to effectively prioritize your personal and professional activities. And if you decide to become a freelancer, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of your schedule so you can pursue a line of work that fits nicely within the way of life you’ve designed.

Now you’re ready to grab the leash and take your dog for a walk — or at least know that your schedule won’t be taking you for a walk!

Handy Tools

According to a Harvard Health Publishing article from Harvard Medical School,

“In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

As you’re designing your schedule, we recommend listing the things you’re grateful for and making this a regular practice. It will help you understand what you value most in life.

You can use a physical journal or try a handy digital tool like the 365 Gratitude Journal. It’s an app that provides Daily Prompts (with messages to inspire you), a Gratitude Jar (to “capture memories as they unfold”), and even a fun Gratitude Game (where you can unlock rewards).

And if you enjoy having social connections, the app allows you to connect with others to inspire and support them along the way.

Words to Live By

"Beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living within that way of life." – Hunter S Thompson

Found in the book Letters of Note and James Clear’s newsletter.

Until next time,

Co-founders of Freelance University®

431B 41st Avenue NE - Unit 94, Calgary, AB T2E 2N4
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Freelance After 50 Newsletter

Craig & Kelly Cannings, Co-founders of Freelance University

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