When you work for someone else, your work schedule is largely decided for you. Your employer tells you when to come to work, when to leave, and if you need to work over-time. As a mystery shopper, you are an independent contractor working for yourself. As your own boss, many mystery shoppers delight in being able to work when they want to, setting their own hours and working around their personal lives. Yet this freedom and flexibility can also create problems for some mystery shoppers.
Set A Schedule. While mystery shopping allows you to enjoy the flexibility of working around your personal life, this flexibility can create problems for you as well. As you look at your busy personal schedule, it’s easy to think to yourself that you can squeeze in an extra assignment here or there and pick up a few extra bucks. While this sometimes can be the perfect way to pad your wallet with some extra cash every now and then, if it becomes a habit you can end up leading a very stressful life as you constantly juggle work and personal activities.
To avoid stressing yourself out, set a work schedule to live by. Look at your schedule on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis – depending on what is best for your lifestyle. Add in your regular activities such as your book club, babysitting the grand-kids on weekends, date night with your spouse, the schedule of your “other” job, and so on. Then consider how many hours a week you would like to work as a mystery shopper. In your tentative schedule, include plans for both working as well as free time that you can spend running errands, enjoying downtime with the family, and so on. Try to avoid booking up every minute with personal activities and mystery shopping jobs to allow time for life to simply happen.
Make Ends Meet, Don’t Over-Commit. In your tentative work schedule, consider how much money you “need” to make as a mystery shopper and how much money you’d like to earn. With these two figures in mind, determine how many assignments you need to commit to in order to make ends meet. This number of assignments should be a priority for you over meeting with friends and other fun activities. If you take on assignments above and beyond this figure, be sure to allow plenty of time to spend with family and friends so you don’t over-commit yourself and to avoid getting burnt out.
Note, since the compensation on assignments varies quite a bit, the “number of assignments” you need to work on a weekly or monthly basis may vary. This will just give you a good starting point in your scheduling.
Make Your Time Count. Life has a way of just happening, with circumstances, minor issues, drama, and more happening all around you. When “life happens” while you are trying to work on a mystery shopping assignment, what initially should take about 45 minutes to an hour ends up taking far longer. Make a concerted effort to block out everything that is not critical and urgent, and devote your attention to your assignment when you are working. You can get back to untying the kids’ shoelaces and putting new batteries in the remote control after you’ve completed your assignment. When you do this, you will find that what once took you several hours to complete really could take half that long. This will free up your time to enjoy your personal life (or to take on additional assignments) in the long run.
With these tips in mind, you can become a more efficient mystery shopper, successfully balancing your work time and personal time.