For anyone who thought my desk might actually look like this on a normal day, here is a more accurate picture of my "tidy" desk during the week. And yes, this is after clearing off space.
True story: I opened up this window to type this post around 5:30 p.m. last night. And right now it's 8:30 a.m. and these are the first words on the screen. Although I had some ambitious time management plans when I first started out this freelancing thing, reality has set in. I was always really adept at juggling multiple projects at work, prioritizing what had to get done, and churning out lots and lot of stuff. But fewer deadlines and unclear priorities are a new beast for me (I can take my personal projects at my own pace right? Um...do I ever want them to get done?). Some thoughts on my current time management situation:
- One of the things I was looking forward to most about freelancing was a more flexible schedule. Lunch with friends, more time for hobbies, the ability to join weekday Bible studies. Not to take away from my work time, but mostly because I knew freelancing was not an 8-5 job. Sometimes it's a 12-10 job, sometimes 3-midnight. I don't want to over-plan my day, either.
- Much (ok, almost all) of my work so far is for clients in California. This has been a huge blessing and it's really great to continue work relationships with people I love working with, but has got my hours a little wonky, since they're basically working 12-8. I do really like getting a head start in the morning on them, though...definitely keeps me from more late nights.
- Training for a half marathon has totally thrown my schedule upside down. Exercise was never part of the plan. If you include running time, warm-up/cool-down time, and taking time to eat a nutritious breakfast time, that adds about 1.5 hours to my morning routine 4-5 times a week.
- One to-do list. Rather than the multiple to-do lists I'm accustomed to keeping, since my life is much more fluid and flexible, I'm using just one list.
- Take breaks when needed. Not just computer breaks (although those are important), but coffee breaks, reading breaks, and breaks from the race of keeping up with other blogs and social networks.
- Make appointments. If I want to have lunch with a friend, I schedule it days in advance when possible. I also have standing volunteer hours at Dress for Success Miami, which is great to add structure to my day. Not only do appointments help me chunk up my work time and use it better, it also gives me something to look forward to and measure toward during the week.
- Realize I don't have to plan every minute, especially when it comes to my workouts. I prefer morning workouts, but a) it's been hard to get up in the mornings lately (soreness from this new exercise thing doesn't help) and b) sometimes I get inspired when I wake up and sit down and start typing million-word blog posts like this. To keep myself on track, I make sure to put on my gym clothes in the morning and then when I do get to a stopping point, run down to the gym in my building knowing that once I get on that treadmill, it's a bigger pain to stop than it is to keep going.
- Do something. Anything. It doesn't have to be for money. It doesn't have to be for a larger goal. Doing begats more doing, so instead of thinking about my website while browsing blogs, I'm trying to close the browser and start working on the website instead (writing in Word, for example...I know I'll need to open up the browser again to actually do web work).
- No more caffeine after noon. Iced tea with last night's dinner was a bad move, but I now have a whole pageful of notes and ideas (things I can do right away) that I took on my iPad under the covers. I'm paying for it this morning, though, so time to rein it in. This one's a party animal, can you tell?