Monday, September 22, 2008

Finding Time to Work on Your Own Stuff: a Freelancing Necessity

I have turned over a new leaf. I will no longer spend my weekends slaving away on freelance writing projects – except if there are unusual circumstances (must be flexible because unusual circumstances have a habit of showing up in my life completely unexpected).

I was keeping a schedule over the last three months that was nearly running me into the ground. Burnout was just around the corner. And to be completely honest, it was my own fault because I wouldn't establish a writing schedule each day. Since I stopped turning my nose up at creating a more structured work day, I have gotten much more accomplished. Besides, I need a life.

I have made a commitment to start working on my own stuff more regularly. Prioritizing my day is the only way to find the time. I need to do all sorts of things: design a new website, write the content, re-purpose some articles, develop a special report, promote my business…you get the idea.

I have been squeezing in time every evening and on the weekends to brainstorm and work on my stuff. When you are everything to your business – the business manager, administrator, accountant, creative/designer, etc. – It can become overwhelming. When I start to feel that way, I think of the answer to the question: 'How do you eat an elephant?' You do it one bite at a time.

Working on your own projects is an important part of growing your business. Taking classes, creating products of your own to sell, writing advance blog posts, writing a book and other projects could ultimately affect your bottom line – profitability and income. It's an investment in your business and your future. After all, you spend hours working on writing projects for your clients everyday. Shouldn't you make time for your own business?

10 comments:

Amy Derby said...

I know what you mean. It can be very tempting to spend all our time on the things that make us money NOW (translation: paying work) while neglecting the tasks that will bring us more money in the long run (like promoting our businesses, maintaining our own websites, etc). It has taken me a very long time to find any kind of balance, and I'm still not sure I'm very good at it. :-)

Avid Writer said...

Well, Amy, I did well with working on my stuff this weekend. I'll have to take it one weekend at a time...

Devon Ellington said...

I'm a morning person, so I do my first 1K of the day first thing -- after the yoga, but before breakfast and shower.

Then I "start my day" and check email and switch back and forth between projects.

I don't like a structured work day -- I know what I need to get done, I'm good on deadline, but I need huge swaths of unstructured time to be truly productive.

The more I try to schedule myself the way I would in a cubicle, the less productive I am. And isn't that the point -- to FREElance?

Also, I often prefer to take a floating day off during the week and then work on a weekend.

But yes, you must make time to work on your own stuff, because otherwise you're just repeating the pattern that didn't work in the 9-5 world.

Avid Writer said...

Devon, I am not naturally a very structured person either. But since I share my day with four kids under the age of eight - one who is a toddler and spends the entire day at home with me - I find it's what works best for now.

I have blocks of time during my day that I have to devote to them: discussing their day, going over homework, cooking/eating dinner, baths, reading and finally bed.

I have several regular clients now, and I have to structure my day so that I can get their projects done on time and have time that's my own - whether it's during the weekend or weekday. That's what I love, love, love about the freelance life. It provides me the flexibility I need - even though I'm a little more structured than I used to be.:)

Lori said...

You go, girl! Good to see you prioritizing. It's so easy to get sucked into the gotta-be-there-every-waking-minute mentality when you own your own business. Fact is, you don't. You need to be there during normal business hours or within whatever sensible timeframe works for you.

Avid Writer said...

Thanks, Lori. I can honestly say I am learning every day about how I can make freelancing work best for me and the way I live. So far so good! :)

Devon Ellington said...

That's the great thing about freelancing -- we can find out what works best for us as individuals, and adjust it as we need to.

Avid Writer said...

Devon, I could kick myself for not doing this sooner. :)

Maria said...

I was faced with this same dilemma about a year ago. I was so busy writing magazine articles and online content as a freelancer that I wasn't building up my own long term income streams. I decided to work the first hour of each day on my own projects (eBook, my own blog and sites) and gradually move away from writing for others. It's been a fun journey, and I enjoy writing more for myself.

Avid Writer said...

That's great, Maria. You give me hope that I can do this!:)

 
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