Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How Freelance Writers can Benefit from Doing Less

I'm reading Leo Babauta's new book "The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…In Business and Life." Leo Babauta authors the now famous blog Zen Habits. Lately I've been completely overwhelmed with work, stuff and clutter in general.

While I am ever grateful for the constant stream of work and my wonderful clients, overwhelmed is not a good place for me to be. Ask the people in my life who are forced to live with me. My number one goal for 2009 is to significantly simplify the way that I live and do business. Leo's book is very inspiring. Some of these lessons I suspect will help my business prosper and keep me from burning out:

Understand that less can be powerful

I guess I'm what you might call a "generalist" (if you like labels) when it comes to copywriting. I offer a very wide variety of writing services. What often ends up happening is I try to handle lots of things that get thrown at me all at once. I'm dealing with the repercussions of this right now actually.

I do it because I want to be sure that I have enough money to survive and pay my bills each month. Things were pretty desperate for my family when I first started freelancing, but I'm realizing that this method is no longer working for me. I feel like a machine that just cranks out projects. I'm in the process of redefining my goals, the writing services and some of the rates I provide for my clients.

Apply limitations in life and business

This is a hard one for me, but if I learn to do this I will work much more effectively. I need to limit the number of projects I take on each week, the number of times I check my email each day, and the number of side projects I have going on and the number of days that I work, just as I plan to limit the number of things I own and allow into my home (goodbye clutter!).

Focus on one thing at a time

I keep thinking about that saying: "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." I've got to stop trying to shove the whole thing down my throat. I'm the self-professed queen of multi-tasking, but it's making me crazy. Leo wisely says that switching gears to single-tasking allows you to focus on just one thing which preserves your energy, mental health and allows you to do a much better job. It's less complicated reducing the chance of errors and stress.

Life is what it is. We can't avoid the messes and complications that happen in our personal lives or in business. But you can simplify things considerably which could help you rediscover joy in what you do again.


Laquita said...

Great post :o)

Jennifer said...

I love Zen Habits. It is so goo to read that someone else is facing the over multitasking problem. I too try to take on enough work to pay all of my bills and still be able to save. Your plan to simplify sounds great.

Kimberly Ben said...

Thanks Jennifer. I Love Zen Habits too. Leo's book is giving me some excellent perspective about the way I run my life and my business. For me, simplifying is a MUST.

Kimberly Ben said...

Thanks for stopping by, Laquita.:)

Rebecca Smith said...

When I'm overwhelmed with writing projects, "single-tasking" really works for me. I prioritize my tasks and then try to knock one out after the other. The satisfaction I gain by crossing something off my list energizes me to keep on writing.

Kimberly Ben said...


I'm trying to train myself to "single task" more and you're right - it feels INCREDIBLE to be able to cross a task off the list.:)

shelly said...

I must read that book. I spend a lot of time running around but never really accomplishing anything.

Kimberly Ben said...

I know exactly what you mean, Shelly. The book is really good BTW.

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