I’m counting down the weeks till my full-time-total-self-employment begins. A large factor in pushing me towards this momentous decision has been the sheer number of things I need to get done. Projects breed projects. Word gets about. People ask me for things, and I quickly learned to ask “how much will you pay me?”
And I’ve learned time management. I’m still learning. An early essential was a decent diary with plenty of space for writing the day’s tasks down. It’s hardback and A5.
There are some tasks that happen on the same day every week. For example, I prepare the weekly releases for loveyoudivine Alterotica, and change the settings on the website to make the ebook available to purchase. So on Tuesdays I do the prep, which takes up to an hour, and on Friday afternoon I make the changes and write the promotional front page which can take up to an hour. I can go through and add these things to each week of the diary.
I blog at Top Hat Books on Monday and Wednesday. Fridays is an occasional “Friday Funny” if something’s caught my eye that week. So those blog days are added to the diary, and if I get a flash of inspiration I can note down the topic. I don’t rely on my memory. As Homer Simpson says, learning new stuff just pushes old stuff out of my brain.
And then I fill the pages, day by day, of each week. If I get some ideas to pitch to a magazine, I’ll note them down. I list the romances I’m working on. I mark in the deadlines for commissioned pieces – a week before the real deadline.
I’ve had a problem though in that I add all my ideas in a long list under Monday. I have yet to learn how to estimate how long any task will take me! This means that I inevitably get to 5pm Monday and have to transfer anything that’s not been crossed off, over to Tuesday.
Knowing roughly the time needed for a task seems important as it would stop me saying yes too often. It would also prevent me getting into those awkward situations where I say “I’ll do that by Friday” and then, on Friday, having to rush/stay up late/make a pathetic email saying “Uh, okay, you’ll have it Monday.” I’ve never had to do this to an editor – instant career suicide! – but I’ve let other people down, and it rankles. It’s unprofessional and impolite.
I’ve got various other projects in different stages of development. Some things need doing, such as regular romance releases. Other things are projects I want to do, but I know that once I start, I have to commit to it, so I’m waiting until January. I suppose I have this idea that once I’m full time freelance, I’ll magically have loads more time to fill, but the truth is this: I need to get stricter on how I structure and plan.
Once I’ve burned all my bridges, I have no other option. If I get up and waste all day on Facebook, I won’t earn any money. I will have to be brutal when I look at my projects. I can’t choose the stuff I want to do. I will have to do the fee-paying projects first, and if there is time left over, then I can do the rest.
It’s scary. If I get it wrong, no one will pull me into their office, tell me off, and give me another chance. If I get it wrong…