I wish I had a dime for every time someone has said to me, “I don’t know how you do it all!” Many of the people who say this know that I’m married and have three kids–now aged 7, 8 and 17. And that besides my paying clients, I write this blog, blog once a week for WM Freelance Writing Connection, and am finishing up writing an ebook on freelance writing.
So given that this is productivity week, I thought I’d discuss some of the things I do that I believe make it possible for me to balance my busy family life with a good-earning writing career.
1. Exercise. I try to either walk uphill for an hour first thing in the morning, or do Wii Fit yoga before work, or I hike in the woods near my home or bike with my kids. Time spent exercising never subtracts from productivity-it makes you so much more creative and productive that it more than makes up for the time spent, I find. And it’s so important to stay healthy, or you won’t be earning well for long!
2. Have fun. I never miss my regular monthly Mah Jongg game. I go geocaching with my family. Last week, I learned to cross-country ski. I sometimes play Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook with a bunch of my friends. These kind of breaks away from writing for high-quality family time and recreation are absolutely essential.
3. Rest. If you’ve read my previous post on the secret of my writing success, you know that I am always off my computer and away from all writing chores from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown each week. Remember, we’re not called human doings, but human beings. Our bodies weren’t designed to work all the time.
4. Outsource. I have housecleaners come twice a month to take care of all heavy cleaning. I send my teen to the mini-mart for a gallon of milk. I pay a Webmaster because tech stuff makes me cry. If it isn’t time-effective for me to do it, I find someone else to do it.
5. Let go. I do not have a pristine, utterly clutter-free house that looks like a design magazine is about to come take a photo. The pile of shoes and toys on my porch is atrocious. If we can walk about the house without tripping on anything, I’m pretty much satisfied.
6. Ruthlessly organize and prioritize. From my years as a legal secretary, I know to come into my office each day with an agenda. I know what the most important things are that need to get done, and the secondary objectives I’d like to get to, and I knock them out.
7. Turn down low-paying jobs. I focus on finding well-paid work and don’t waste time on low payers. That’s right, prospective clients call me and I turn them down if their rates aren’t in my ballpark.
8. Sleep and TV. I don’t do a whole lot of either. Six hours or so a night of sleep seems to do me, along with the occasional weekend nap. I frankly find the vast majority of TV shows really boring at this point in my life–a couple hours of shows is plenty in a typical week. I Tivo everything so I save 20 minutes watching commercials for every taped hour. Mostly, I’d rather read, write, think, or plan.
9. Say no. The fact is, I don’t really do it all. I turn down a lot of things. Will I organize the elementary school’s auction? No. Will I clean out the closet? No. Will I give a Torah commentary at the synagogue this week? No. Don’t try to conform to anybody’s idea of a supermom…those women are all having quiet nervous breakdowns, I believe.
What do you do to manage your busy schedule? Leave a comment and let me know.