Happy New Year, everyone! I am getting back into the swing of things, and want to share what’s been on my mind.
Most days I’d say I have the best job in the world: I get to draw and paint (and sometimes write) and get paid for it… plus as a freelancer I do it from home. Being my own boss and having the flexibility of a freelancer is really terrific.
But sometimes the workload can get a bit ahead of me; maybe I took too much time away from my desk during the holidays, or came down with the flu, or had to help a family member handle an emergency. Suddenly deadlines are looming and I start to feel panic creeping in. Work faster! Don’t get sidetracked by that overflowing laundry basket! Stop taking time to chat with whoever calls me on the phone! Stay up later and get up earlier!
Some of these are bad ideas. What we’re talking about here is how to practice good time management, which happens to be my New Year’s Resolution. Here is a list of a few things I came up with in that regard:
1) Make reasonable goals each day; break jobs into distinct tasks that can be accomplished
2) Focus. Avoid distractions such as Facebook, TV, and domestic chores that can wait. I was fortunate to hear one of my favorites in the children’s book world, author/illustrator Sophie Blackall when she presented at the SCBWI Winter Conference in 2012, and I asked her how she was able to accomplish all that she does. She said, “Well, to begin with, there is no television in my house.”
3) Prioritize; make a list of the things that must be done, and rank them.
4) Take care of myself: eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, exercise, at least a little bit, every day. Stress can cause insomnia — everything looks bleaker at 3 am. — so I need to keep my body in good shape in order to be productive during the day.
5) Learn when (and how) to say no. I hate to disappoint family and friends when invited to do something or asked for a favor… but sometimes it must be done in order to have adequate time to fulfill obligations I’ve already undertaken. This might be the hardest one, because I work at home.
6) Ask for help. Our oven really needed cleaning after the holidays, and I just did not have time. My husband did a fine job!
Here is some more —
Advice from FreelanceFolder, a community for freelancers, entrepreneurs, work-at-home business owners, and web-workers.
Just this week I saw a post in FB Kidlit Cafe. It was originally posted on the blog Simply Messing About by author/illustrator Laura Nienhaus Zarrin and is an interview with James Burks on this very subject.
I know I am not alone when it comes to this issue, and I welcome your feedback and the sharing of any coping skills you’ve found helpful!