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my un-epiphany: calendar for the freelancer

I’m staring at a blank calendar – seriously attempting to fit my daily life as a freelance copywriter into these solid, inflexible, militant spaces.

I can’t believe I’m about to do this…but, I have to. After my post last week where I pondered the ability of a calendar to boost my productivity, and I both encouraged you, my readers, to do the same and then said I would lead the charge, after all of that, and a lot of soul and brain searching…I’ve decided that I can’t wedge my work life into a strict schedule.
At least not by the end of today.

I already have many, many meetings placed randomly throughout every day over the next 3 weeks. And, like Ron Miller said so well in his diatribe explaining why he couldn’t and wouldn’t do this scheduling thing with me, we really are at the whims of our clients.

If a prospective client contacted me and asked for a meeting on Tuesday at 3:00, would I really say, ‘No. Sorry, I do research every Tuesday from 3-4:00’??? No, I would not. Now, I do see the other side of this. I could say, ‘I’m sorry, I already have a meeting schedule at that time, but I could meet at X, Y or Z on Wednesday.’

But, I have a few other points (that don’t have other sides):

  • My muse writes when she wants to and I’m positive she won’t be okay with ‘making it happen’ from 10-12:00 every day.
  • If I’m on a roll, I can’t just stop because my schedule tells me too. That’s just plain bad writing practice.
  • Just a scenario: I’m working on a project A (as scheduled), when I get an email that gives me a huge lead for project B – it’s time-sensitive and ground-breaking. Project A can officially wait; project B needs me.


There is still a small part of me that thinks I should create this new schedule and begin following it as soon as my current un-scheduled schedule has been filtered in to the strict flow because I said I would and I do have hope. And then, there is a large part of me that feels like a cad, a loser and a wuss for hyping you up and then bowing out so ungracefully.

But, as I’ve struggled with this for the last 4, long, internet-empty days in Vermont, my urge to let my work life follow the fancy of my creative strides is far too strong…and I just can’t fight with my muse – she’s way too good to me and way too valuable.

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Ron Miller says:

    Ah the Muse is a harsh mistress, Julie and we must give into her whims, but we can also be more efficient without being rigid.

    I learned something this weekend myself on my trip to Maine. I took my laptop with me and much to my chagrin (at first), there was no internet access in the condo where were staying. As it turned out, it was kind of nice. I needed to get work done and I needed to be efficient because I wanted to spend most of the days away from the condo. Each morning I woke up and worked for 2 hours or so. Without the distraction of the internet, I was highly efficient and I was able to enjoy my day out knowing I had achieved my work goals.

    Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to ignore the internet when you know it’s there, but what I did do (this morning anyway) was make a to do list. I used a pen and paper and listed small goals for each project. I drew a check box after each goal, and I checked it off upon completion, and I got through almost the entire list (and it was fairly ambitious).

    So the lesson is, I think that we don’t have to rigidly schedule our days, because as you point out that really doesn’t work, but what we can do is plan our days better and work more efficiently, and I think that’s ultimately probably what you’re after.


  • --Deb says:

    And, isn’t that also part of the beauty of being freelance and your own boss? The ability to order your day according to each day’s needs? Yes, there are things you need to do, and things you need to schedule–especially if they’re things you don’t LIKE to do–but trying to control your day, minute by minute? Where’s the fun in that? As obsessive as I am about being organized, that’s farther down that organizational road than I’m willing to go.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Deb and Ron…thank you for your wisdom and kindness. Yes, that To Do list and the knowledge that I am Queen of my domain (literally, LOL) – are the keys here…

  • Ron Miller says:

    That’s exactly right. We became freelancers because we didn’t want to adhere to somebody else’s schedule. I find that sometimes you know you need to do something, but your head’s not in it. That’s when I switch gears and go for the low hanging fruit.

    Maybe I should be writing a blog post or an article, but I can’t do it for whatever reason, so maybe I’ll just check Google Reader and research ideas because it doesn’t take a lot of mental effort. If I scheduled research every day at the same time, I wouldn’t have that flexibility.

    And don’t forget sometimes, you want to clear the schedule and have lunch with your spouse or pick up your kids up from school or have coffee with a friend, and that’s part of the joy of freelancing too (that and not shaving, but I imagine you and Julie don’t share that particular joy with me.) :-)


  • Julie Roads says:

    Au contraire, Ron…there are many days that I stand proudly in my shower and declare that I will not shave either my legs or my armpits – because, damnit, I’m a FREELANCER!

  • Lisa says:

    Ohhh, how I’ve tried the whole scheduling thing … My discovery: When scheduling doesn’t work, I feel guilty that I can’t be more structured and disciplined. When it does work, I feel resentful that I’ve lost my autonomy and creative flow. There’s no win here, either way.

    What DOES work for me are smaller steps toward productivity. Prohibiting internet during certain hours hasn’t helped me, but limiting the number of times I bounce through Twitter does. Closing off my email is a nightmare of missed messages and lost opportunities, but I’m quite happy to have gotten rid of the chimes and floating notifications that herald every electronic arrival. Wandering through personal feed categories during work hours is a no-no, but the nebulous categories that fall in between hard work facts and personal interests make good brain food for dull moments.

    Hope you figure out a mix that works for you. Your Tweets have been missed. ;)


  • Julie Roads says:

    Thanks, Lisa…and I missed Twitter too! A little too much! You make a great point about the guilt factor…and the schedule is bound to slip off course!

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