And my schedule, while it isn't fail-proof, I find that having daily requirements helps me to stay on track. Every freelancer, especially writers and editors should have checklist or schedule to stay on task.
A solid schedule and perhaps a handful of color-coded notebooks make all the difference. At least for me it does. And because I love you, I wanted to share my daily checklist as a means for inspiration to help you come up with your own checklist, or enhance your current one. There are some tips too!
- Schedule flex into your schedule. Always allow for 10-15 minutes of break time between each task. By doing so, you will allow your mind to recover and it will give you a chance to stretch, take a walk or play with the kids. Give your creativity the chance to build.
- Be realistic about how much time it takes you to do something. For example, on the first day of your new schedule, be very flexible....sit down and see how long it actually takes you to write a query letter from start to submission. Once you know how much time that takes, you can adequately schedule your time. I know it takes me an hour to write a query letter (research, publication selection, writing, submission).
- Schedule meals. I'm not kidding. I eat at 8AM, 1PM, and 6PM. But that doesn't mean the meal is just made. So, give yourself 30 min to an hour to prep, cook and eat.
- Decide when you are going to stop working and stick to it. Because of the nature of my day, I am up early, but that means I am done with work by 3PM. After that, it's all fun and games from there. Choose a schedule that fits your lifestyle and stick to it. If you want to be done with work by noon, then get up at 4AM...but stop at noon, even if you have something else you're dying to finish. It can wait. Consistency is really important.
- List out all freelance writing and scheduling tasks
- List out other responsibilities (i.e. homeschool the children, pick up children from school, walk five miles, sew a blanket, etc...) Work-life balance is key.
My Daily Checklist
- Email 2 pitches
- Contact 2 editors seeking freelance editorial work
- Write for 2 hours (or 2,000-3,000 words, whichever comes first) on a creative project (5AM-7AM)
- Develop 5 ideas
- 1 hour acquisitions/editing work
- Update editorial calendar for U.P
- Read for 1 hour
- Apply for 2 freelance writing jobs
- Write 1 blog post
- Perform research
- Homeschool/Play with kids
- Write 1 essay
- Find 3 newspaper ideas
- Send out creative writing to 3 publications
- Write an ebook (25-30 pages)
This may seem like a lot, and I'll admit that it is, but I have incorporated my writing/editing life into my home life in a way that works for us. We take "stop breaks" which means that for every hour that I work, I play with the kids for 20 minutes. Twenty minutes is enough time to color, paint, read, play with toys and more. It is important that our family structure is well connected.
Also remember, I am up early, some mornings at 4:30 AM to get the day started. No matter what is going on, my family does come first. Working out is a priority too. And so is my personal writing. As long as those things happen, everything else falls into place and I don't feel stressed out. Yes, there are days when something gets eliminated, who cares. It's one thing and I know that the next day will be fine.
Do you have a writing schedule? How do you organize yours?