>Time management

>I often get asked how I fit everything in, and when I’m doing the job right, I have to admit, I do get through a lot of work.

The secret is good time management.

My absolute favourite pastime is diary work and when I was freelancing full time, from 7am until 11pm, Monday to Sunday, my diary was full 3 months in advance. If I had a spare hour-long slot in any of those 3 months, I’d panic. Often I’d be filing copy on my way to a package holiday abroad, or if I was holidaying in this country, I’d post it from there.

Another trick is to cut out the stuff I hate and try and fill my working time with stuff I want to do, stuff I enjoy doing, and stuff that pays well. I was working 7am – 11pm, 7 days a week because I didn’t have a minimum fee. I do now. I also have a day job that gives me a regular income … but I made damned sure it was a day job I’d enjoy, that paid well, and that was related to what I do best.

Saying “no” to things that didn’t pay enough or that I didn’t want was a massive learning curve, and one that took me ages to get over. But it’s the best thing I ever did. If I’m going to be busy, I’d sooner be happy at the same time.

When I plan my diary I put everything in, including lunch breaks, travel time, R&R, diary work, right down to “cook tea, wash up” and “bath, wash hair” (yes, really). Obviously the priority, after weekends and bank/public holidays, is to fill in my day job time first, then the lunch breaks. (Did you notice my priorities there?) The blog gets a slot every week day and the gig list gets several slots every month end. Regular holidays go in there too. But as I work most public holidays (unless I give myself a holiday), the slots on those days are filled with writing work too.

It’s a proper diary too, one you can see, touch, feel, smell, carry.

I also try to write about things that I enjoy, which is why I go to stately homes or on walks or around tourist honeypots with camera in one hand and notebook and pencil in the other. This is the best way to make sure I have a good quality of life while at the same time maximising my earning potential.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling conscientious, or broke, slots in the evenings and at weekends get filled too. But usually this is my me time, and if I feel like doing some work in my me time, then I do it and it’s a bonus. Saturdays are generally filled with chores anyway – the chores still have to be done and those get ticked off as I go along too.

The diary is written in pencil so that changes can be made – nothing I do is cast in stone. But once it’s done for the month I can sit back, see what I have to do next, and start ticking.

This is how I do it. How do you do it?

Here are 3 more books currently in my book bag:

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