How to Juggle Freelance Writing Work With…

…a day job/the school run/writing a book/having a life (delete where applicable).

If you only had freelance writing work to do then you could cope, right? If you could just sit at your computer/laptop/desk-with-quill all day long and get paid to write, life would be pretty sweet, wouldn’t it?

But invaribly, unless you’re some kind of robot, you’ve probably got other stuff going on.

Perhaps you’ve got another job – yes, an actual real-life day job to hold down while you build up your freelance writing career.

Maybe you have other schemes you’re working on other than your freelance writing work – a book or website to launch for instance.

You probably need to write blog posts and market yourself on social media. Not to mention all the while constantly seeking out even more freelance writing work.

Of course there’s the odd chance you’re actually trying to fit in a life between all this too.

You remember – a life. Complete with friends to see, kids to play with and a partner to try not to completely ignore.

Even if you don’t have a family vying for your attention it’s likely that you’ve at least got hobbies and friends that are feeling a bit neglected.

So how do you fit all this in around your freelance writing work?

Well, first of all you need to remember why you’re doing all this in the first place. Why are you neglecting areas of your life? Why are you getting up early and going to bed late and hardly seeing your friends?

Asking yourself this one important question can help you to focus and clarify your goals, both for your freelance writing work and for other areas of your life.

Your answer might be because you’re gearing up to one day make freelance writing your full-time job so you can quit that other one that keeps taking up all your valuable time.

Or it might be because you feel it’s important to leave your own little dent in the world – to leave a lasting legacy behind – so you’re creating a masterpiece blog and inspirational books and products so all your writing isn’t used up on other people (i.e. clients).

Whatever the reason, it helps to write it down. It always helps to write it down.

OK. What next?

It’s simple really: Think about (or better still, write down again) all the things you spend your time on that aren’t directly related to getting paid.

List them all and ask yourself why you do each thing. Write down why you’re working on everything you’re working on at the moment and if the answer doesn’t either make you money or align with your overall larger goals, eliminate those tasks (or at least make plans to eliminate them gradually).

I’m going to say that again so it really goes in:

[Tweet “If a task doesn’t make you money or align with your overall goals, eliminate it.”]

Bit drastic, isn’t it?

Not really.

There’s really no need to carry on doing something out of some kind of misplaced sense of duty or – worse still – out of pure habit. If certain tasks don’t either go towards keeping a roof over your head (and perhaps the heads of a few loved ones) or fit in with your grand scheme to take over the world, stop doing them!

And guess what I find happens when I eliminate all the unnecessary things I think I should be doing? Apart from having more time, more money and more friends I mean?

That’s right: NOTHING.

Nothing bad ever happens. Nobody cares. Nobody even notices.

What do you think? What can you eliminate? Or is this all far too simplified for your liking? Let me know in the comments below.

You may want to check out some other things I use to save time on the Resources for Writers page.

photo credit: garryknight via photopin cc

12 thoughts on “How to Juggle Freelance Writing Work With…

  1. oh, i know it is EXACTLY like you describe it… I think my culprit is Facebook and other social media and blogs.

    For instance, since i often also work on Facebook, i go in to do some work and at some point, i end up wasting 1 more hour just browsing, for no good reason. I KNOW it, and i am trying to fix this for months now and i just can’t! should i just quit working on Facebook so that i don’t end up wasting that other time afterwords? LOL

    or, i go and read a blog post (because i got a notification in my mail, just like i did with your blog post just now ;-)) – so i go and read a blog post, real quick! but then i like it and i ant to comment on it, and then i want to tweet it, and share it on Facebook aaaaand – one more hour went away because i saw something else on Facebook, or saw another blog post, and left another comment… you get the picture.

    It really isn’t that simple to get rid of those tasks that eat up your time and are not really inline with your goals. Because they are so tightly related to the things that relate to your goals that there’s no getting rid of them. or am i wrong? please, teach me if i’m wrong 😀

    1. This is the problem isn’t it?! I used to do exactly what you’ve described Diana (still do sometimes if I’m honest). Because it’s part of my job to read other related blogs and interact on social media this can be a HUGE time suck! The best way I’ve come up with dealing with this is to designate a set amount of time in the day or week to do the ‘time suck’ tasks – and try to ONLY do them then. For example, set aside a good hour or two hour slot each week for reading and commenting on great blogs, or set aside 45 minutes per day for social media sharing etc. The key is to stop when the time is up – but of course that’s the hard part. One thing I’ve tried – and it does work – is setting a timer. This is the only way I can jolt myself out of these time sucking activities sometimes! If I haven’t finished when the timer goes off then I finish on my own time – the time I’ve set aside for lunch or ‘after hours’. Worth a try perhaps?

      1. sounds like a very reasonable solution, Kirsty! well, not the timer part – i will look around nervously, waiting for the timer to go of any second now and oh, how i am NOT ready for it to go off LOL – but setting aside an hour every day, perhaps even the same time, to do time-suck (as you call them) tasks – well, that might as well work! Will let you know – thanks for the great suggestion! Putting it in practice starting tomorrow 😉

  2. Great article. I really like how you stated everything in a matter of fact tone. I think many people get so panicked about an opportunity, even if it doesn’t pay, that they just jump at the chance. Hopefully this article will enlighten those who are overbooking to realize that there are just as many paid opportunities out there and to have faith in the process.

    By the way, I loved the image of the old lady juggling. It cracked me up. 🙂

    1. Totally agree Wendy – there are well paid opportunities out there and there are ways writers can make the most out of the opportunities they already have without spending more time on useless tasks. Glad you enjoyed the article (and the picture) ;o)

  3. I really do a juggling act myself, but you did a good job of summarizing how crazy things can get (websites to update, blog posts to write, better paying work to find, etc.). Although I’ve balanced the different areas of my life fairly well, after reading your post I did review my lengthy to do/goal list and find one thing that I could delete. One tiny thing, but at least it was something. 🙂

    1. Hi Anne. Well everybody’s different of course, but what led me to write this post (and what I wrote down and eliminated) were mainly tasks relating to email management. I found dealing with email was taking up a lot of my time and while this was indirectly related to making money in the long run, in some cases I knew there were ways I could eliminate certain types of email that were taking up too much of my time.

      For example, I put pricing on my writer’s website so new clients didn’t have to email each time they wanted to know my rates. This one thing alone saved a bit of time but more importantly it sparked off a new mindset for me: I found I wasn’t monitoring my emails as closely as I was before. I even trained myself not to open my emails for the first two hours of being on my computer in the morning.

      After that, I started looking at my to-do list as a challenge to see what I could eliminate. Did I really have to read the first draft of my eBook again or could I just send it straight off to be proofread? How much time would that give me back and how could I spend that time?

      I’ve gotten used to knowing what’s urgent, what’s important and what’s neither – now it’s more of a mindset I have than anything I do consciously.

      Hope this helps!

  4. Kirsty, I’m with you on email. I wake at 5 am and do not check email until 8 am. I get so much more done now that I don’t let everyone else’s needs dictate my day. I feel much more in control of my schedule and, ultimately, my career. This small change has made a big impact on my productivity. Thanks! Lisa

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