Left to my own devices I’d be all flex and no work. Or all work and no flex. There must be a happy medium.
As a writer, deadlines are my best friend. Without a sense of urgency, why would I sit at my desk when there are coffees to drink, books to read and friendships to nurture?
Plan my day, week and month down to the last millisecond? Tried it. Doesn’t work.
That kind of structure feels like the 8-foot high fence around my high school… something I’ve just got to break free of. One look at a jam-packed schedule and suddenly I have an overwhelming need to do something much more fun. Like stand in a queue at the RTA. Or get my teeth drilled.
How about fitting work in around the fun stuff? Yeah, right! Too much time not working and I get visions of writers starving in garrets. That’s not the life for me, thanks very much. And besides, fun is no fun if it’s served with a side-order of deadline-driven guilt.
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So I’m trying a new “system.” It’s about the gazillionth one since I’ve been a soloist, so I can’t guarantee it’ll be the last, but I’m committed to giving it a red hot go for two months.
Here’s the plan: Monday to Friday I do eight hours of work that is either billable to a client or generates new business. All ‘other’ work – keeping up-to-date with industry journals, checking who has and hasn’t paid their invoices and managing email – gets squeezed into tiny timeframes around the edges.
Two weeks on, it seems to be working. I feel disciplined, but in a flexible way. There’s room for spontaneity, as long as I’m prepared to make up for it later. This morning I dropped everything to watch a pod of dolphins playing in Sydney Harbour – pure unadulterated joy, with no guilt-on-the-side.
Admittedly there have already been days when putting in eight hours feels like running a marathon. Have you got any tips to help me push through the pain barrier?