By Katharine Rhodes (pictured), freelance writer, and part-time student
I went from working in an office where whatever I did my meagre salary would fall into to my bank account each month to becoming self-employed. I used to spend the last half an hour on a Friday staring out the window, making cups of coffee no one wanted and walking to the printer every five minutes to check everyone’s social plans for the evening. It was beautiful. And then I began to freelance and suddenly wandering around my house boiling and re-boiling the kettle and checking Whatsapp did not ensure the arrival of any money. So I had to revaluate my approach to time management.
Here is what I learnt along the way:
- Mark Twain it
Mark Twain famously said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.”
Now I am not actually suggesting you devour live reptiles before your morning caffeine hit but before you do anything else do the worst task on your list. Or make a list (see tip two). Once done you can move onto the work that you enjoy.
- Lists lists lists
Everyone knows there is nothing more satisfying than a to-do list, particularly one where you can immediately tick things off.
There is nothing like a to-do list for creating a false sense of achievement and the illusion that you are actually working.
I keep mine in a diary, which I use to log the hours of work for different projects. Other, more organised, people will tell you to use Excel to do this and they are definitely right, as it makes pesky things like tax returns much easier.
- Managing your expectations
There is nothing worse than organising your day around something fun and exciting only to have it cancelled on you at the last minute. The same applies to plans with yourself. If you chill when you are supposed to chill it makes it a lot easier to work when you have to work.
“It’s okay to live in a state of things hovering over your head as long as you have them scheduled into a plan. Always budget more time that you need,” says Jennifer Taylor, a full-time teacher and part-time student.
- Blitz the boring bits
Boring tasks are boring. Even easy ones like phone calls just don’t seem to happen. I’ve found a way to tackle these is to power through them super fast. Lump them together and they can be your frog for the day.
- Make dead time, well, alive
Someone, somewhere, at some point, who was very successful at something, told me that every Friday night they read the Financial Times in the bath. This recently inspired me to use dead time, or more pertinently time that I would usually spend scrolling my life away on social media, to my advantage.
So in conclusion: worst first, lists galore, don’t cancel fun plans on yourself, blitz the boring bits and make dead time work for you. If all else fails reward every minor achievement (even if that’s just opening your emails) with a generous supply of tea and biscuits.