Unlike the workdays of traditional nine-to-five employees, routines constantly change for freelance writers. If you’re anything like myself, this uncertainty serves to keep a freelancing career fresh and interesting. Having said that, the ever-evolving deadlines, rotating rosters of clients, and various administrative tasks associated with keeping your writing business afloat can put a serious damper on productivity. While many cubicle slaves dream of the flexibility a freelance writing career offers, I personally struggle to keep my output constant in the absence of an established routine.
Further complicating matters, juggling personal and professional projects often proves immensely difficult. Whether you’re an aspiring fiction author, a busy blogger, or a stay-at-home mom, keeping track of all of your responsibilities is tricky. As a young, single guy, I’m fortunate to have a relatively quiet personal life that affords me plenty of extra time for focusing on my side projects, but I still find it hard to stay productive as the week flies by.
Inspired by a couple of different posts from bloggers with writing careers, I’ve decided to embark on a two week productivity challenge to see how I can boost my own output. Charity Craig wrote an interesting piece for The Write Life detailing her tips for simultaneously working on personal and professional work endeavors. Charity suggests assessing your workday to pinpoint when you do your best work, in turn prioritizing your workload to fit your productivity patterns. I was also inspired by an article written for Tom Ewer’s Leaving Work Behind. In this blog post, freelancer Gina Horkey recommends building a model work day to keep yourself on track. Gina further explains how to use the Pomodoro technique to maximize your efforts.
Faced with the realization that April 1st will be here in just two short weeks, I am starting my productivity challenge today. For reference, it’s worth mentioning that one of my largest freelance contracts at the moment is a telecommuting position at the helm of an Internet company’s marketing department. In that role, I generally spend anywhere from 25-40 hours each week writing for the organization. This fact alone made Charity’s aforementioned piece particularly interesting to me, as while I do have more flexibility than the average office worker, I am constrained by a significant time commitment. In stark contrast to article writing or copywriting jobs that remunerate according to output, this particular position pays me for the minutes spent on the clock. Of particular interest to me is whether or not I can successfully utilize the Pomodoro technique without a negative effect on my logged hours for this client.
I am also excited to see how productive I can be outside of my established time commitment. I would imagine many of you who have yet to begin freelancing full-time can sympathize with my conundrum: how can I increase my productivity without letting my prior work commitments slip? The tweet below appeared in my Twitter feed a few days ago, and I think it certainly contributes to this discussion.
— Quotes For Writers (@quotes4writers) March 13, 2015
In an effort to keep myself accountable over the next two weeks, I have established a short list of goals for my workweek, which you can find below:
Week One’s Goals
25 hours of work for my telecommuting position
3 new blog posts for Writing From A to Z
5 articles to be sold in a content marketplace (500-700 words/piece)
2,500 words for an eBook in my pipeline
1 guest blog article (500-700 words)
Phew, sounds like I’ve got a fair amount of work on my plate in the coming days.
Feel free to follow along and share your own insights. How do you effectively juggle professional and personal projects? Do you have a favorite calendar, task app, or other digital tool in your arsenal?