There was a time – not too long ago actually – when finding clients was the big issue for me.
I was new and didn’t have a lot of paid work to fill my hours. I am sure you can relate to that.
While searching for solutions, I would inevitably come across other writers looking for solutions as well, but their problem was entirely different to mine. They were after ideas to manage their work load.
They were cribbing about falling to achieve the work life balance in their lives. They needed answers. I mean – seriously?
That’s a good position to be in to be fully overbooked and turning down low paid work, right? Apparently not. As it turns out, being fully booked out is a good problem to have; but it still has its disadvantages.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance, for one. Especially, when you are a woman – with small children still in your care. The process of taking time out acquires a whole new meaning. Lo and behold, time becomes a luxury.
Here are a few ways you can deal with it.
Get over your FOMO
In case you haven’t heard, FOMO stands for the Fear of Missing Out. This means different things to different people.
For me, I am addicted to information on the web – and I reckon most writers are. I am terrified at the thought of missing out on important news, events, information and the like. It’s hard for me not to check my email constantly (which by the way you should do as it will make you more productive).
It could be social media participation for you. Or just being socially active in the real life. Get over it already.
You can’t possibly know everything. Just by accepting that, you will make things easier for yourself.
Start saying no to whatever it is that you claim to not live without.
Books, TV, movies, Web, Social Media, Smart phone. Cut down – wayyyy down. You will free up precious time. And you won’t even know what you missed.
Start using your planner – religiously
Let me tell you a few things I am not especially proud of.
I have once forgotten to pick up my son from his day care centre.
Just a few months ago – as my son never lets me forget – on a Sunday afternoon, I took my 4-year-old to his best friend’s birthday party, all dolled up, proud as a peach holding his present that he chose so carefully. On the way we discover, the party was on SATURDAY.
Ouch! (And I should clarify that I had pencilled that in my calendar, I just read it wrong.)
Yes, that happens and a whole lot more when you don’t write that all in. Like the other small stuff. Start with every small chore that needs to be done. Make time for doing the laundry, dishes, cooking meals. Do these things seem mundane to you, not important enough?
I know, who puts in things like this in the calendar? Daily chores and everyday stuff.
Well, you do. Unless you want to start forgetting things that are important. Things that matter.
Be as organized as possible. Be there for your work – and your family – when they need you the most. Schedule some time with significant other and your friends. Set time aside to spend with your kids. And don’t forget to give yourself a break to reward yourself and keep your engines running smoothly.
Break projects into manageable chunks
You might have a fairly big project in your lap that is causing major stress. The best thing is to break it down.
Seems like the logical answer, right? You’d be surprised how many people don’t do it.
Instead of trying to finish it as soon as you can. Aim to spread it out. Try to secure long enough deadlines that give you some wiggle room.
When you have long projects going, you feel like you need to turn down work. This doesn’t have to be like that. Make sure your project doesn’t take up all your working time. Always work on more than one project. If you only have one big one, spend the rest of the time (no not catching up on your sleep, or pampering yourself) marketing yourself.
Remember the feast or famine cycle that we freelancers go through. You might be fully booked now, but this won’t last for ever. You still have to keep on marketing and promoting yourself. Keep getting the word out.
Now, when you are in this enviable position, you can start looking into outsourcing some of the stuff.
If you have a steady supply of projects coming in – in other words you have got it made – think about hiring an assistant to take care of the administrative jobs. How about someone to make the calls or send the queries out for you? Someone looking after all the technical aspects of your business?
If you are a writer, than concentrate on creating content. If you are a graphic designer, invest all your energies designing. Hiring someone will mean you take a pay cut, but it will pay off in the long run.
On the home front, get as much help as you can. Ask your hubby, your best friend, your mom. And then return the favour when you can.
Embrace it all
For me, my success happened when I stopped fighting it.
Stop. Fighting. It.
I accepted that I am a mom with small children. I only have 24 hours in the day and I can only do so much.
For me, working full-time hours is not an option. Instead, I concentrate on going after better paying clients and specializing in my niche to command higher rates.
At the end of the day, I am working 16 hours but only getting paid for 6. I am still making a pretty damn good income.
And all’s well.
Your turn: What’s your best tip for managing your freelance career when you are also a Mom to little kids?
Featured photo credit: Woman walking on a rope over a cityscape via Shutterstock