Do less and do it well
Once again, it’s school holiday time.
As someone who runs a business from home, this can be a tricky (and sometimes, frustrating) time. In the freelance writing game, it’s very often ‘feast or famine’ — either too much work or not enough. And for the first few years, it’s very tempting to say ‘yes’ to any work that comes your way, until you are well-established in your field.
As luck (or Murphy’s Law) would have it, my busiest times have usually been during school holidays. This has often meant a stressful holiday period, trying to balance meeting deadlines and holiday fun. It is further compounded by the fact that writing for a living isn’t as simple as sitting down for a few hours and ‘getting it done’. Writing often means needing to be in the ‘zone’ — feeling the inspiration and getting the words to flow freely, rather than trying to extricate them one by one. As a health writer, I also need time to research my topic.
As any writer would know, the zone isn’t something you can turn on and off. It’s either there or it’s not. Sure, there are things you can do to help you get in the zone, but with two noisy (and sometimes arguing) children in the background, getting there can be difficult. Even if you manage to find your way there, that magic place where the writing comes easy, can be shattered in an instant with the words “Mum, I’m hungry” or cries of “Stop it! Leave me alone!”
Really? You won’t believe it. Honestly, no sooner had I typed the words above, my eldest comes in and says “Mum, I’m hungry!”….so I’ll be right back……
(insert 37 minutes….)
Right — where was I? Oh that’s right, being interrupted!!
In the past, working during school holidays has meant early mornings, late nights and working across the weekends. By the time school term started up again, I was in need of a holiday myself. But of course, everything else that had been put on the back-burner while I was juggling work and school holiday activities was beckoning.
So these holidays, I decided to do something different. I didn’t take on any work.
Yes — I said ‘no’.
Instead, I am working intermittently while I can, on things that are not urgent. They are important, but not urgent. They also don’t require me to be ‘in the zone’ so much, which means that I can make the most of snippets of time that becomes available.
Tasks such as updating my website, planning out the remainder of my year, setting goals, learning new things that will have a positive impact upon my business, as well as building relationships with key people.
Quite frankly, it’s been great. I haven’t worked at night, or early in the morning. I spent last weekend attending a personal development workshop, visiting friends and sleeping in. This weekend we are spending time with more friends (celebrating the end of AFL season, to be honest!) and taking the kids to the Melbourne Show.
Instead of fitting school holidays (and the kids) around work, I’m fitting in my work around them. For the past three days, my son has been at a tennis clinic, and my daughter was occupied either watching a movie, playing with her barbies or at my parents’ house — so that’s when I worked.
This morning, the kids sorted out a plethora of books, pens, pencils and other ‘crafty’ activities that have been accumulating throughout the house, so I took myself off to the study to work. This afternoon’s activity was cup-cake making — something we all did doing together.
The great thing about my new approach is that I don’t feel guilt. No guilt about not spending time with the kids when I’m working, and no guilt about not working when I’m with the kids.
The other positive, is the quality of my work is a lot higher because I’m focusing more on what I want to get done, rather than how I’m going to fit it all in. There is also a lot less frustration, because writing deadlines do not exist for these two weeks. It’s an arrangement that seems to be working, and one that I will endeavour to employ in future school holidays.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the busyness of work and family life. It’s even more easy to be swamped by the juggle that is work and school holidays. One thing I have learnt however, is that sometimes we need to take something out of the picture in order to have more balance, more fun and less stress.
Sometimes we need to do less, so we can do it well.
And on that note, it’s time to enjoy those cupcakes!
Until next time. xx
She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.
So if you would like her to help you, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org