When I first started freelance writing at home, I was thrilled at the freedom my endeavor brought me. I allowed myself to write whenever and wherever I chose. The same was true of the errands I needed to run and my housework. Everything was being performed willy-nilly and at uneven intervals. As a result, I had a few articles and essays accepted, my house was a mess and I found myself running ragged trying to accomplish my errands at the last possible minute. My stress level increased ten fold and I didn’t feel good about myself.
The problem with having so much freedom was that everything could be put off until later or even worse, tomorrow. And we’ve all heard the cliche; tomorrow may never come. Well, I can attest to the fact that it does come, and when it does, you have twice as much work to deal with as you did the day before.
When I held a job outside the home, I had to arrange my housework, writing and errands around my work schedule. Although this could become stressful at times, it was something that I accomplished successfully on a weekly basis. Once I started working at home, and I supposedly had all the time in the world to do everything, I was getting very little accomplished. I quickly realized I needed to create a work schedule for myself.
Before actually making my schedule, I spent a week observing myself and my family. I noted the times I felt the most energetic, creative and tired. I listed the times my family most needed my attention and the times when they were able to cope alone. I kept track of the chores that were getting accomplished and the ones that were being pushed aside. I also wrote down the things that had to be dealt with on a weekly basis without fail, such as grocery shopping, preparing dinners, the children’s schedules for school and church.
Once I became aware of exactly what needed to be done, I was better able to create a schedule of when each item could best be accomplished.
Originally I thought that sitting down at the computer as soon as I dropped the kids off at school was the best time for me to do my writing. Under observation I realized that I was spending a lot of that time, reading emails and staring at a blank page. I just wasn’t at my creative best first thing in the morning. When I switched to doing my housework during that time period, I found that when I finally did sit down at the computer, I was raring to go and could write better and faster without the guilt of a pile of dirty dishes or laundry weighing me down.
My writing was best saved for the late morning, and early afternoon portions of my day. For me, grocery shopping and errands are best accomplished after school because my children are older and usually busy and in need of rides at that time of day. I can easily incorporate a trip to the dry cleaners or post office into a drop-off at a friend’s house or a pick-up from practice.
Evening in my home is family time but I must admit that I keep an open notebook by my side at all times, day and night, for article ideas that hit unexpectedly. I find that if I write down a few key words I can follow my lead the following morning when I’m back at the computer.
The most important thing to remember when making your schedule is to include some “me” time into it for personal pampering and relaxation. You are an important member of the family that you are attending to. Plan accordingly.
It took me several tries before I perfected my own personal schedule and there are times when it needs to be altered such as during vacations and holidays. I’ve learned that by setting and religiously sticking to a personal schedule, my writing time is more productive, my surroundings are more pleasant, my family is happier and my life is much less stressful.