Behind-the-Scenes of Careful Cents: A Day in the Life of a Female Biz Owner

Have you ever wondered what the heck a freelance business owner does all day? They probably just sleep in, never get out of their pajamas, and eat junk food all day, right? Well, sort of! Here's what a day in the life of a female business owner looks like.

Have you ever wondered what the heck a freelance business owner does all day? They probably just sleep in, never get out of their pajamas, and eat junk food all day, right?

Well, sort of! Being your own boss does means you can control when you work, how much work you do, and what your schedule is like. But it’s not without its challenges. It takes a lot of effort and time management to stay on track.

Thanks to the brilliant minds at One Woman Shop (OWS), you can see what a day in the life of an entrepreneur is all about. A few times a week, their Instagram account is taken over by female business owners who do everything from selling jewelry, to creating art, to marketing, and everything in between.

And I’ve had the awesome privilege to carry the One Woman Shop baton several times! In case you don’t know exactly who I am, or what I do, here’s how I introduced myself:

My name is Carrie and I’m taking over Instagram today. I’m a financial writer and founder of a freelancer community called @carefulcents where I help go-getters build thriving business through meaningful relationships. I currently live in the Denver area with my chef husband (we’re both self-employed!) and have an obsession with coffee and art!

start of day careful cents

Here’s a complete behind-the-scenes look at a day in the life (and business) of what it’s like running Careful Cents.

8:00 am (ish) — I start my day by checking the calendar app on my phone to see what my schedule looks like for the day. I use Google Calendar’s mobile app, since it syncs with my desktop calendar on any device or computer. Checking my calendar app allows me to stay on top of all my appointments, deadlines and tasks (without ever leaving my bed…score!).

8-8:45 am — time for a walk or yoga, then cooking breakfast before getting ready for the day. For me, it’s an utter SIN to skip breakfast, so it’s always my #1 morning priority and having a 30-minute walk in the mornings has been a large part of my routine since I moved to Colorado. While eating, I usually read a magazine or a book from my reading list.

breakfast day in the life

9-10:30 am — time to boot up the laptop and get ready to work. Some days I start work at 9:30 am or even 10 am (it just depends on how late I stayed up the night before). But most of the time I walk into the my home office at 9 am. Each day is a little bit different but they all follow the same basic structure.

Morning = orange and pink tasks

  • Prep time – First thing in the morning I start prepping for the day by viewing all my to-do’s based on the type of task it is. I then color-code my calendar where orange and pink tasks are times for prepping, answer emails, social media and managing money.
  • Budgets + bills + money – I like to stay on top of my finances as much as possible, so I always start the day by checking my bank accounts and seeing what invoices have come in. This is when I log into FreshBooks, categorize any business transactions, and evaluate the money for the week.
  • Social media + newsletters – Now it’s time to catch up on social media (replying and interacting with the community), and doing a quick browse of my inbox to make sure there aren’t any emergencies that have to be handled. Then I start writing and prepping newsletters. I send out a bi-weekly newsletter for Careful Cents, a weekly newsletter for The Careful Cents Club, and prep a few weekly newsletters for clients.
  • Editing + content planning – Next, I look at the content calendar for Careful Cents and my clients. I’m a freelance writer so I balance multiple client deadlines and write content for various websites. This is when I come up with new pitches, start outlines and jot down any other ideas.

Asana calendar colored

Afternoon = green and blue tasks

  • Writing assignments + content creation – This is the time of day when I’m most productive and have the most energy, so it’s when I do the majority of my writing work. I log into Asana (which is free for 15 team members) and start going down the list. Most of the writing and blogging I do is for clients, and they are all on a regular schedule (weekly or monthly). This is also when I write blog posts for my own website.
  • Accountability/coaching calls + mastermind chats – Later in the afternoon is when I schedule weekly meetings with different accountability groups, and coaching calls with freelancers that I coach and mentor.

But anyways, back to the daily schedule…

10:30 am — this is my favorite time of day!  I take a 15-minute break from working to get refreshed, and sometimes have a mid-morning snack. (On this particular day it was half a bagel and cream cheese.) I brew a cup of coffee, pour it into one of my favorite mugs and sit it on a Mr. Coffee mug warmer.

10:45-1:00 pm — after my mid-morning break it’s time for editing and blog management projects for clients. I also work on the Careful Cents’ content calendar and organize my client and project deadlines. I work until lunch — or until I’m so hangry I can’t take it anymore.

1-4:00 pm — it’s back into the office for some mega productivity time before dinner. I turn on my favorite playlist, or the focus@will apppull up Google Drive on my Samsung Chromebook, and bust out some writing assignments for clients and other blogging projects. Occasionally, I’ll have a 4 pm call with an accountability partner, or a 5 pm mastermind chat.

computer work time day in the life

4:15-5:00 pm — I usually stop work before 5 pm, or at least before dinner time, but some days I won’t step away from the computer until after 6. Especially if I’m catching up from a recent workcation trip, or working on a new project. 

6-9:00 pm — several times a month my husband and I attend local meetups with other entrepreneurs and business owners. Today, we drove into Denver for a meetup at this cool place called Avanti (see the wallpaper in the background). We always chat about business and eat yummy food. If you’re in the Denver, CO area hit me up via email or Twitter and let’s connect.

Carrie Smith Nicholson day in the life

Thanks so much for sharing my day with me! As a freelancer, it’s tough to run a business from home or on the road, but it’s been a very rewarding and freeing experience.

What does a typical day look like for you? Share a quick snapshot of what a day in the life of your business would look like!

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  1. Marisa says:

    I love the way you segment your day. For me, scheduling is the hard part. I have a tendency to take a 5 minute break that somehow morphs into a 7-hour Netflix binge. And while I’m getting better at managing my time, it’s great to see how other people “miraculously” manage to not spend the whole day on Netflix.

    Oh, and I’m totally going to start making a hit list. That’s brilliant.

    • Carrie says:

      It took a long time to work out my current schedule, Marisa. I experimented a lot and tried out different strategies. The one thing that really works for me now is to focus on energy management instead of time management. That’s why I segment my day into certain types of tasks, based on the amount of energy and headspace it takes to complete them. This has worked out really well for me the past year!

      Glad you like the Hit List idea, my husband thinks it’s pretty funny too. 🙂

    • Chung says:

      Check out ‘freedom app’ if you haven’t. You can set it to block yourself from using the Internet / Netflix. You can set a password and give that to your partner or whoever so you don’t go and unlock it yourself. I think that’ll help you withyournetflix problem.

  2. Erin says:

    I loved getting a little inside look at your day, Carrie! I’ve been trying to focus more on energy management as well. I’m not usually a morning person, and do my best work in the afternoon into the night. So in the morning I do emails, blog reading, commenting, social media, etc., and once 12pm rolls around, I’m busy brainstorming and writing. I take a break around dinner until my boyfriend goes to sleep, and then I’m back at it until midnight. I’m still experimenting! I also love the Hit List idea.

  3. Nicola says:

    Thanks for sharing this! It’s so interesting to see how self-employed people manage their time – for me, my time at work is pretty much all planned for me 🙂 I’d love an hour lunch break – oh, what a dream. One day, I will!

    • Carrie says:

      Ha! It took me almost a whole year of working on my daily schedule to be able to have time for an hour-long lunch break. It takes time and a lot of experimenting with your calendar! Good luck — it will happen one day.

  4. Very cool! Thank you for sharing! I’m with Holly–I’m vastly more productive in the mornings and the afternoons are when I need to do rote, simple tasks (and drink lots of green tea!). I ramp back up in the evenings after dinner and usually have another creative spurt of writing before bed. I also do yoga in the early evenings–it’s the perfect interlude between my 9-5 day job and my side passion of blogging and writing.

    • Carrie says:

      Thanks for sharing how your day works! I enjoy black tea occasionally, but have never been able to get into green tea much. 🙂 I used to be a hugely productive morning person, but over the past few years, I’ve noticed that my energy has changed.

  5. I always enjoy reading these types of posts. It’s fun to see what people do on a daily basis. I usually get most of my work done in the morning (I am a morning person), and then slack off towards the evening. I also stopped using an alarm clock in the mornings, but I make sure I go to bed at the same time each night.

  6. Christine says:

    The Hit List is brilliant! I have goals written down but I never thought to summarize my day and write down things that I must accomplish. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Hanson says:

    I really enjoyed this post, thank you! You have a good method of being productive and staying organized.

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