You’ve waited for this day for what feels like forever.
Finally. You get to decide your own schedule.
You can wake up when you want.
Start work when you want.
Stop working when you want.
Life is good.
Except it’s now day three of this new, freer life, and you haven’t been writing as much as you thought you would with more open space in your day.
You spent more time making breakfast yesterday morning than you did working on your book.
You only answered four client emails (all confirming the times during which you are theoretically available to talk).
This … isn’t exactly what you pictured freelance writing/working from home would be like.
You were so frustrated by strict time constraints and short lunch breaks that you forgot how hard it actually is to manage your own schedule when there isn’t a higher-up looking over your shoulder.
Also, you forgot how distracting literally everything in your house is, including the dust that has collected over every piece of furniture you own (HOW? YOU SIT ON THAT COUCH!).
So … what now?
Now, dear writer, it’s time to take back control of your schedule, instead of continuing to let it control you.
This means you should:
- Establish a consistent wake-up time you can stick to
- Give your self a start and cutoff time, during which all work for the day must be completed
- Block out specific time for specific tasks (e.g., answering emails, research, meetings, etc.)
- Schedule small breaks throughout your day (unless you’d rather work straight through for eight or more hours, though that’s really not good for you in the long-term)
- Leave longer stretches of time, either in the mornings or evenings, for you/family/friend time
- Figure out a distraction-blocking method that actually works for you.
Does all that make your days feel a lot less fun and free? Probably. But that’s because you’re still supposed to be working. It doesn’t matter if you have an office cubicle or a work couch, a break room or a back porch, a Starbucks three floors down or your own personal coffee pot. Yes, you’re in charge of your own schedule now. But that means you actually have to STAY in charge of it.
What a transition from a traditional work environment to something less traditional actually means is that you have more freedom to write in a space and within a time frame that better fits your creative needs. For example, some people literally can’t function before 10am. It’s not always feasible to expect them to show up work-ready at 8am anyway.
This method of structuring your work as a writer obviously doesn’t work for everyone. Some writers find themselves paying for co-working spaces just so they have a place away from home to (hopefully) get their work done. Some just stick with their day jobs and save their side gigs and hobbies for nights and weekends. It’s all about what works best for you — no way is any better than another.
But whatever you do, plan first. Make sure you can hold yourself accountable well enough to power through that to-do list, with just enough time left over to binge-watch some TV and not feel like writing is taking over your life (in a bad way, that is).
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.