Today’s blog post is going to be rather quick, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for awhile, and I wanted to share my thoughts on it.
If you’re going to do any kind of freelance writing, you’re going to have to budget your time just like you would budget your money. But the only difference between time and money is that, most of the time, you’re the one spending your money. It’s hard for other people to spend your money without your permission.
Time, on the other hand, can be spent by someone other than you. That’s right. Your time, yours, is often spent by people that aren’t you.
Think about it. How many times have you been completely focused on something, working on your writing or whatever else, and an email popped up on your phone. Or a Facebook message. Or a cat meme. Or a commercial. Or a phone call. Or a unicorn.
Okay, not a unicorn.
But you get my point. People spend our time all day long. Media, (social and otherwise), has an excellent talent at spending the time of other people just by sucking them in. All I need is to go on Facebook with the sole intention of marketing my business, and, if I’m not really paying attention, I emerge seven hours later having seen yet another hundred pictures of adorable baby animals, laughed at some funny memes, and, for some reason, with an intimate understanding of how giraffes are born.
I don’t know how these things happen. But they do. Because other people have spent my time. And I let them.
I don’t say this to discourage using social media, watching the news (okay that one I do), or having a social life. But if you’re going to work for yourself, you get paid by productivity, not by the hour. Waste time at work and you can probably still get paid and get the minimum amount done.
But being your own employer, you can’t afford to do the minimum. You are every department. You run the show. And your income rests solely on your ability to ignore the crap and get your work done. To put in the extra hours. To get up early and not get side-tracked by tweets. To have as good of a strategy and budget for spending your time as you do for spending your money. (And even better, if possible.)
Trust me, I understand time constraints. I work as a special education instructional aide, I’m studying for the CBEST and CSET to get my special education credential and master’s, I run a handmade crafts business and a graphic design business on Etsy, I write fiction, and I freelance on 3 different outlets.
Busy is my middle name.
But until fairly recently I was still struggling to get anything done. It all sounded great, but all of my entrepreneurial pursuits were competing for my time, I had trouble focusing, and realized that I spent most of my time staring at my computer instead of doing anything with it.
So, I set up a spreadsheet broken down into the various activities I do outside of my school job. Now, I make sure that I have something in every box before the end of the day. I do the things I hate to do first, so they’re out of the way when my mind is fresh and I’m less motivated to ignore them. I save social media marketing for absolute last because I know that, while I’m better at focusing my time, if I’m doing it at the end of the day and I happen to get side-tracked, that’s okay – the rest of my stuff is done.
In short, I’ve come to realize that I have to be consciously spending my time, otherwise my time will just be spent. And usually by other people.