One of the constant things in my life, in the lives of many freelancers, is the constant quest for balance. I, of course, have a lot of work I need to do for my clients, but I also have work I need to do branding and networking my own business, work I need to do for Cloudscape Comics, personal writing projects, an d networking with other creative individuals. That’s a lot of stuff on my plate and it’s hard to feel happy about accomplishing any one of them when there’s always so much more on the list yet to do. I may have finished a website for a client but my blog is out of date, I have five business contacts to reconnect with, I haven’t looked at my novel in a month, and I need to read a book before I return it to a friend. How does one deal with all that?
The most common recommendation people give is setting aside particular times or days for particular activities. Most of my networking and personal branding is done the morning. That’s when I like to meet with clients, attend events, answer my emails, work on my blog. Of course, sometimes that’s not possible and the afternoon or evening will have to do, but whenever possible I choose the morning.
Then I have lunch and after lunch, that’s when I do work for clients. I write their websites, plan their commercials, edit their brochures, and what have you. If I’m lucky, all of that will be done by dinnertime and after dinner I’ll be able to work on my more interesting creative projects – comics, my novel, scripts or what have you. And then if I’m really really lucky, I get to read for an hour or two before bed.
Then Friday evenings and most of Saturday or gently put aside for spending quality time with my girlfriend while all of Sunday (and sometimes Saturday evenings) are once again put aside for creative projects.
This isn’t a perfect system and various times I’ve had to switch things around but as a whole it’s working out okay.
I’ve found the most useful part is giving myself particular blocks of time in which I need to be working on particular tasks. For example, requiring me to devote four hours that afternoon to a person’s website or three hours to a brochure. I find my intention is much more focused on an assignment when it’s within these proscribed hours and I’m also less distracted by other stuff. And then when I’m finished, I can turn to something else with a much clearer mind. It’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned when figuring-out how to best develop myself as a freelance writer.
That and to treat myself as a client who deserves as much attention and effort as my other clients. Sadly, scheduling time to work on my own business and making sure I’m not sacrificing that to meet my other demands is something I still need to work on.