Are You About to Ruin Your Weekend?

This week, I’ve been showing you ways to make your freelance business more fun. It keeps you motivated and on track. And keeps writing from turning into another J-O-B.

In my final message today, I’d like to help you have fun “off the clock.”

Nothing ruins a good weekend like thinking about work the whole time.

That’s why when I finish my work today, I plan to enjoy two full days off without working, thinking about work, or scheming to escape to my desk to work.

It wasn’t always this way. I used to work all the time. I thought because there was something on my list, I had to work 24/7 until I finished it all.

When I wasn’t working, I’d think about everything on my list and feel guilty until I started working again.

After a few months without a full day off, I realized I would never finish everything because the project list was growing faster than I could work.

There was always something I could do: working on client projects, marketing my services, writing my book (to position myself as an expert), and enhancing my website, as well as all the little things that go into all those big tasks.

As writers, we tend to work all the time. Even if we’re not in front of the computer, we’re usually brainstorming our next big idea.

But if we focus and work more effectively when we're working, then we'll have more freedom to relax and enjoy our time off.

I finally realized I would have to create balance in my life. I would need to do enough work to reach my goals, but not so much that I never had a break.

Work When You’re Working

My first step was to schedule work time and really work when I was working by focusing and finishing. Then when it was playtime, I could have fun without worrying.

You can read about my action plan and how I stay on task here.

Your goal should be to get as much work done when you’re working as possible. Don’t let little things distract you from work. For instance, unless you’re a social media expert, you shouldn’t be spending time on social media sites during the workday. It will pay off later when you’re able to take a full day without worry.

Just because you’re working hard doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. To have more fun while you’re working, check out this article I wrote about fun ways to research your product.

Play When You’re Playing

The next step was to schedule time to have fun.

If you are at the beginning of your career, you might feel like every moment you’re not in front of the computer, you’re losing money.

You might think you don’t have time to take a day off to have fun, but it’s good to take a break because we lose the ability to concentrate after staring at the screen too long.

Scheduling time to play gives you something to look forward to and reminds you what you’re working for – more playtime instead of a 9–5 job.

Don’t waste your time off. Turn off the computer, go outside, or do something active. Sitting in front of a screen all day will not recharge your creative abilities.

I make a point to always take Friday evenings off. At 5 p.m., I close the computer and put it away. I also make a point to use my cell phone less and get out of the house for several hours.

Also, I try to get all my work finished during the week so I can take the weekend off.

I created this schedule to help me keep my sanity, but I’ve realized it really helps to keep me focused during the week. It’s just no fun to spend your time off worrying about what you didn’t finish or what you should be working on.

Stop Doing What You’re Not Good At

Next, I tracked everything I did to decide if I needed to do it or if someone else could do it for me.

A lot of the little things I thought were important weren’t necessary, so I stopped doing them.

All the other stuff, like accounting and taxes, I outsourced. These tasks were a waste of my time, stressed me out, and I would never be as quick or effective as my accountant.

You’re a writer. Your job is writing. If you spend several hours a day on administrative tasks, you’re not making good use of your time.

Take a few moments today to create a list of all the things you should stop doing.

Then mark off what doesn’t need to be done and stop doing it. For example, driving somewhere to work when you can work from home is something you can stop doing. You’ll feel much better – and your business will become a lot more fun – right away.

Next, look at the other tasks that you can stop doing over time and make a plan to phase them out. For one thing, there’s no need to file paperwork if you have electronic copies of it. You can make a plan to get everything scanned into your computer and backed up so you can stop the hassle of keeping papers organized.

Finally, circle the things someone else can do for you and start making plans to have someone do them.

I instantly felt better when I created my “stop doing” list. When I started hiring people to take care of the stuff on my list for me, my business became a whole lot more fun.

Plus, because I wasn’t pulled in several different directions, I could focus more on my writing.

Now, before you say that you can’t afford to hire someone, think about this:

If your goal is to make $100 per hour writing, then anytime you’re doing anything that doesn’t bring in $100 per hour, you’re losing money.

My accountant charges just $50 per hour, and he can do our taxes in a few hours. It used to take me several days, and I would stress over it for weeks. I’d much rather pay him and spend the time he’s working to write.

Your homework for today is to make your business more fun by scheduling time to work and play. Then make your “stop doing” list and start putting it into action.

Let me know how this works for you by commenting here.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: January 20, 2012

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