As freelancers, it's tempting to take every job that comes along and let your calendar be at the mercy of your clients. But take care to let those priorities we articulated last time be the determining factor when organizing your schedule. And what better time to take a look at our calendars than at the beginning of the year?!
Believe me, if I had my way I'd have awards for the most fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants gal around. Spontaneity excites me and timelines often terrify me. But once little Ruthie girl came along I knew that if I wanted to get anything done, it was necessary to have a schedule in place. Keeping a daily agenda allows me to enjoy that spontaneous spirit with my little girl when we decide to rush off to the carousel just in time for the last ride of the day.
Because an entire calendar year can be intimidating, let's break it down to the following :
Yearly: Block of birthday, anniversary and holiday weekends and be strong when it's tempting to compromise. Be mindful as you book back-to-back work, keeping one weekend a month off-limits for rest and recreation -- whether you're able to get away for two nights and unplug or just camp out with some puzzles and pizzas at home. You'll be grateful when that weekend off comes around and offers a reprieve. (For example, when possible I block off one weekend for every 6-8 weddings.) If we don't protect these on the front end, it's easy to become bitter at your work when special events roll around but there's no time to celebrate.
Monthly : When Ben is in production our Saturday and Sunday real estate becomes priceless. While the majority of my shoots take place on Saturday, we try to keep our Sunday's hands-off and reserve the time for family/close friends only -- filled with things that refresh. Plug in repeated activities such as weekly library story times, exercise classes, flea markets, free museum days, etc so they don't sneak up on you! During busy season when weekends tend to fill up, be extra mindful to schedule rest during the week when able.
Weekly : Clumping like-tasks together yield efficient and quality work results. I try to reserve one entire day for emails and editing (Monday is ideal as I can catch up from the weekend and give a sneak peek to clients); one weekday for potential shoots, another for errands and home/work things that Ruth and I can do together (grocery, farmers market, post office), and a final day blocked off just for mama-baby time. It's so easy for work to creep into that last one so I try to find activities for us outside of the house -- and if I have the flexibility to choose which day of the week this is, I consult my monthly calendar to look for the museum or library days already plugged in! While you're here, take a look at your evenings and take care not to fill up every single one -- a break for supper and bedtime stories does the heart and family good.
Daily : One of my favorite things about having a kiddo is the omission of an alarm clock. She's guaranteed to be up by 7am and therefore so am I. But I've noticed that when I have even just 15 minutes by myself or with Ben before she wakes up, our mornings are smoother and sweeter. These extra minutes offer a chance to wake up, focus, spend time reading, etc. As a parent it doesn't take long to feel like your every minute is dedicated to another human being and on the long days, this can lead to a feeling of bitterness. An extra 10 minutes in the morning can help prevent that. (I try not to use this time for work as once I'm in that mode it's very hard for me to get out.) We'll dive deeper into a daily schedule next time.
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