Of all the things I expected to struggle with in my freelancing career, time management wasn't one of them. I have ALWAYS been able to get more done than was expected of me at any job, and I figured I'd keep using the same system to get things done in my home office.
No can do.
No, I do not sleep in or watch soaps. I am showered and at my desk by 8 a.m. every morning. The only time I ever watched t.v. during the day was after I had root canal. I am putting in the hours, but the blocks of time are disappearing and I'm not 100% happy with the net results. I do run 'home' errands during the day: grocery shopping, laundry, post office, etc. and I work out during the day about twice per week. I do this because it takes up much less time during the day and is overall more efficient. Still, I need to be aware of those hours and plan for those hours.
The plan was to do freelance work when that work was available and to do book work when there was no freelance work available. Excellent plan, except for the fact that I PANIC if I go for a week without anyone calling me. I can't relax and take advantage of the downtime to work on my book. Instead, I scramble making phone calls, working on promotional post cards, putting in 'face time' at various client offices. Invariably the following week I'll be inundated with calls, but still the next time famine hits I re-panic.
Time for some serious time management. One of the members of a networking group I belong to (see panic above) is a professional organizer. He came in to my home office and helped me set it up so I can function more efficiently. He is pro-Covey, but he didn't insist on that system - he allowed me to dust off the Handspring Visor my mother (way more technologically advanced than I am!) gave me years ago and start using it to plan my time according to my goals. In the first week of following his system I managed to carve out 5 hours of book time. I slept better, felt less anxiety and was 100% happier about my day. This week I fell off the wagon a little - I kept moving my 'book' time. Still, I have hope for this process. Seeing my time blocks spelled out is making a huge difference. If I want to blog more often, I need to schedule some time to do it. Simple as that.
Having the entire day available to self-manage in order to meet monetary and personal goals is an incredible opportunity, but also an incredible responsibility. There is no corporation to blame for wasting your time. If my time gets wasted, the spotlight of blame goes on me and I don't like it.
Uh-oh - I am 12 minutes into my next time block. Maybe I should rig the Visor to a stun gun and shock myself every time I'm working on the wrong thing...