How disciplined are you?
If youâ€™re like most freelancers, you love the â€œtime freedomâ€ of your lifestyle. No more punching a time clock or being chained to a desk. No more â€œhanging up quicklyâ€ when the boss walks by.
As a freelancer those days are gone foreverâ€¦but one quickly learns that in order to make a great living as a copywriter, youâ€™re now the â€œbossâ€ to whom you must be accountable!
Itâ€™s ironic, to be sure. And as you strive for higher and higher income and greater and greater success, youâ€™ll realize that neither will come without strict time discipline on your part.
Setting Your â€œPolicyâ€
Now that you work from home (as most freelance writers do), people will know that youâ€™re available for rides to the airport and other favors. Since part of the pleasure of freelancing is its time flexibility, you might want to be able to say â€œyesâ€ from time to time.
However thereâ€™s a big danger lurking called â€œpart time work,â€ and if you spend too much time not working, you wind up with â€œpart time pay.â€ If you have a family or small children, enormous amounts of time can also be siphoned away through small but endless interruptions.
The best way to deal with â€œtime thievesâ€ is to institute a â€œpolicy,â€ as most businesses do. When you say â€œIâ€™m sorry, my policy is to devote two hours per week to doing favors and this week Iâ€™ve already used them up,â€ youâ€™ll probably find little resistance. Thatâ€™s because policies are like printed signs: people rarely argue with them.
A Simple But Powerful Daily Schedule Document
As a freelancer, youâ€™ll need to create your own work system and your own documents. Over the years Iâ€™ve refined my own system and documents to near perfection (Iâ€™m always changing and improving as ideas come to me).
One of my most powerful documents is my â€œDaily Timesheet and Schedule.â€ It helps me prioritize my most important projects, lays out what I need to do in half hour increments, shames me into doing my daily exercise routine, and forces me to be accountable throughout the day. If someone needs a favor of me, it must go on the Daily Schedule where it â€œbumpsâ€ a work item.
Here is the Formula for
Creating Your Own â€œTask Masterâ€
Since itâ€™s so easy for us freelancers to procrastinate when weâ€™re faced with a task weâ€™d rather put off, I put right at the top of my Daily Schedule the question, â€œHow will I earn money today?â€ And then I must write it down in the top position for that dayâ€™s work.
This forces me to put aside the fun but less important jobs, to focus on the most lucrative.
My Daily Schedule also has two columns: the left hand column is for â€œTaskâ€; the right hand column is for â€œActivity.â€ The Task column shows what I should be doing at any appointed time. The Activity column shows what I AM doing.
Having to write down what Iâ€™m actually doing under â€œActivityâ€ exposes those moments when Iâ€™m doing something I shouldnâ€™t be doingâ€¦those time-wasters that detract from my income. You can imagine how powerful it is to acknowledge – by physically writing it down – that youâ€™re not doing what youâ€™re supposed to be doing!
If you adopt this system for keeping you on the straight-and-narrow, be sure to create your plan for the day the night before. That way you can gather the tools, papers, research and other items you need so you can truly stay on schedule throughout the day.
By working from such a schedule you can identify your personal work weaknesses, increase your billable time and effectiveness, and conquer your procrastination.
Try this system for yourself and see if you donâ€™t get more done, earn more, and feel more successful – because you are!