This series is about learning how to organise my time in a better way, so that I can function on something more than running-on-empty, which is how I feel 90 percent of the time. While working as a freelancer brings you a very flexible lifestyle, it can only work if you are able to manage your time effectively – which is something I’m not so great at.
Is the real problem learning time management skills? It’s a big part of it. When you work for yourself, all you have to answer to is deadlines. They roll around one after the other, and as long as you are submitting work to high standards on time, there is no one to answer to. If my mood fancies a long walk along the river, there is no one there tapping their watch and shaking their head, because, well, there is no one there. And when it means I have to then work past midnight for three consecutive days, I have no one to blame but myself. And virtually every day, I’m thinking to myself, tomorrow I will be better organised. And guess what? It never happens, because being organised isn’t just going to happen on its own, I need a plan of action to make it happen.
I’m hoping that finding more organisation in my work life will spill over favourably into other areas of my life. Being disorganised in general is horrible. It makes me a bad friend because I never find the time to call or email anyone other than about work stuff. It makes me a worse partner than I could be, because I’m never switched off in the evenings and on weekends, instead I’m stressed and anxious about tomorrow. And it probably doesn’t make me much fun to be around in general when I’m on deadline, as it makes me very impatient and snappy. Get me, I’m a hoot!
It also means I hardly ever find myself able to relax and enjoy the things I like doing. I hardly find the time to cook, enjoy a glass of wine and good conversation, or lay in bed on a Sunday with the papers. Not because I’m spending every available second of the day doing productive things instead; I’m just sort of faffing about and watching videos of skateboarding dogs on You Tube and putting off whatever it is I’m meant to be doing. It also means I am completely irritated with myself virtually all the time at my seemingly complete inability to do anything in a timely manner. If I just did the things that needed to be done as part of a regular routine, I’d actually be able to enjoy my spare time rather than feeling guilty about all the things I’m not doing.
So the first step in this plan of action is to list all the things I have to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis in three different lists. I’m not going to write them here, because you’d die of boredom reading it. Importantly, I’ve realised that I can’t just do this for work, because in order to function more effectively each day, it has to include everything I do. Why? Because it looks to me that being organised is a big house of cards. If I don’t get to the gym every day, I get crabby and lose focus. If the dog doesn’t get a long walk, he’s a nuisance around the house and I have to spend hours hoovering up whatever he decides to destroy. And so on.
So if you’re following along on this programme, I urge you to write your own list, and see exactly where your time is going every day, and help you understand where it should be going. I told you that I love writing lists.