The digital gig economy has perhaps forever changed the way we work, with more freedom and flexibility than ever, we are now able to work remotely at our own pace while adhering to deadlines. On an unseen level, the disruption brought about change in the daily routines of digital gig workers who are no longer confined to a fixed schedule. Differing from a 9-5 job, one is not tied down to a single task and place for a fixed amount of time every day (not forgetting commuting). However, with more freedom and flexibility comes more responsibility in managing oneself. Given so much flexibility, it’s imperative for one to plan their days ahead, as the nature of digital gig jobs is mainly project based.
Though there are many aspects to planning, this article focuses on two areas: Time and Finances.
“If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail” – Benjamin Franklin
Planning is taking control of your life; knowing what to do and when. On a mental level, it helps prepare us for the day ahead. Without the planning of work for the course of the day, you may risk having your work time spilling into the rest of the day and vice versa.
Time management is especially important for freelancers and digital gig workers alike. Splicing up your time between work and personal schedule is important, as having a schedule gives you a glimpse of your day and where you have allocated time for what. Planning a daily routine helps to keep your day organized.
“Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 per cent Return on Energy!” ― Brian Tracy
Apart from having a daily schedule, another aspect that one should take into account is establishing working hours and not working beyond those designated hours. But Digital gig workers should firstly identify the time of the day when they are the most productive. As it differs for individuals, early risers may be more productive during the morning while night owls thrive after the sun goes down.
So what are your most PRODUCTIVE hours?
You can track your most productive hours using this prime time calculator spreadsheet. Establishing working hours during the time of the day when you are the most productive lets you get the most of your day as you maximize your peak performance.
Use a Task List
After establishing your fixed working hours and identifying your peak productive hours, it’s time to prioritise your tasks for the day. Start with a simple task or to do list and work on the ones with the highest priority. By giving your time and attention to the most important task, it helps you in being more productive as you may lose a lot of time shifting gears between tasks.
Eat That Frog!
The “eat that frog” concept stems from motivation writer Brian Tracy, author of one of the most well known time management books, “Eat That Frog”. The notion behind “eating a frog” is to tackle the biggest, most dreaded and important task of the day, the first thing in the morning. Your ‘frog’ is basically the most important and biggest task, it’s the one that you will most likely sit on. Brian encourages us to start off each day by asking yourself, “What is the frog of the day?” What is the one task that you absolutely loathe? After identifying that frog, make it a habit to tackle that frog before anything else.
So what is your “frog?” What is the one task that you despise doing each day? Once you have chosen your “frog” make it a habit to do that task first the moment you are awake, as your frog is the task that you are most likely to procrastinate on.
“Plans are of little importance, but Planning is essential.” ― Winston Churchill
Besides time management, having a financial plan is of utmost importance especially for a digital gig worker where there is an inconsistent stream of income. For starters, a financial plan should include savings for an emergency fund. The rule of thumb is to have at least 6 months worth of expenses in saving that include your rent, bills, food and basic necessities as a buffer or cushion. This way, you will have a safety net to fall back on those rainy days, if work is slow or if you are unable to work for a prolonged period of time.
The 50-20-30 Budget Rule
There are many ways to set up a monthly budget, one of the easiest ways is by following the 50-20-30 budget rule. Popularized by Senator Elizabeth Warren in her book “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan.” Basically, the rule is to divide your income by spending 50% on needs, 30% on wants and finally allocating the remaining 20% to savings.
Saving for retirement
After setting up a budget, don’t forget to allocate a portion of your savings for retirement. According to a study, life expectancy will be on average 4.4 years higher for both women and men globally by 2040, if the current trend persists. Living longer means one will be in retirement for an extended period of time, therefore stretching one’s expenses further in life. It is imperative for digital gig workers to have financial security in their golden years. One may start with exploring private retirement funds that one may contribute to or set aside an amount of money into a separate savings account (that cannot be easily withdrawn, think fixed deposits) would be a good start too!
In order to succeed in the digital gig work industry, the importance of planning (in both time management and financial) cannot be stressed enough. As a digital gig worker, you have 24 hours in a day and it’s on one entirely to decide what to do with it. With so much control within the hands of digital gig workers of their time and day. Having plans and actually sticking to them requires a lot more work and discipline. However, it will take you for the long run as life is a marathon, not a sprint.