6 Rules to Be a Freelance Academic Writer
(and a Mother at the Same Time)
I am a freelance academic writer with 16 years of experience in the industry. It seems like forever to me now, and I can’t remember doing any other job than writing. The most surprising fact for me is I don’t get sick or bored of it; on the contrary, every day I like my job a bit more, and sometimes I wonder whether there is a limit… but this article is not my ode on writing.
Besides writing, I am also a mother of two beautiful children, Amy and John, and they are the most important people in my life. I need and I want to dedicate all my time to them but at the same time I can’t live without writing. A dilemma, isn’t it? Actually it was, but now I have a pretty happy life where I manage to do everything I need and want together with my amazing kids.
I have to admit that this perfect picture has been preceded by years of hard work and practice, but we know nothing comes easy in our lives. I tried many strategies of self-organization and time management to plan my days. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t, but the most important thing I understood was that there isn’t any universal technique. You borrow a bit from each strategy and mix it up with other tools that work, and after several attempts you finally get a perfect model for your life's organization. I share mine because I hope people will find something useful for themselves.
Get up Early
I had wanted to incorporate this habit for a while, and finally succeeded when I began my 30 day writing challenge. I knew that apart from my permanent work load, I needed to have time for this challenge so I decided to wake up at about 6 in the morning. It was quite the discovery because I found out I am more productive during the morning hours. Moreover, I managed to do more work than any other part of the day. Now, I wake up early while everybody’s sleeping and enjoy the quiet and opportunity of being undisturbed. I have approximately 2-3 hours before my kids and husband wake up, and I use this time wisely.
Improve Your Time Management
It takes about 20 minutes to cook breakfast for kids, 2 hours to clean my house and 25 minutes to do my regular laundry. I know exactly how much time I spend on every activity, and it has benefits. First of all, I can always tell when I’m free or busy. Second, I can decide what to do during my free time or how to spend it with my family. So as you have already guessed, I time everything I do. It may be a little annoying at first but it becomes natural to have a set timer on your phone all the time.
Allocate Special Time for Procrastination
I confess I haven’t won the war with procrastination … yet. But I've definitely won some battles. I found out when you set aside some time to surf your Facebook feed or window shop online, you actually stop wanting it so badly. It works for me… most of the time.
Keep a Journal
A friend advised me to try writing down some things from my everyday life and it helped me in many ways. After some time, I developed the journaling concept and it became my journal, diary, and organizer, all in one (I always buy a notebook that has separated sections). I often take notes of important issues or ideas I come up with, for instance, a future present for Amy or a new project for John. As a result, I rarely forget something.
Never neglect the opportunity to reward yourself. If you have a huge work load, you need to complement that sense of accomplishment with a small present for yourself. It may be a cupcake after a written paper or a new dress after you’ve done everything you planned for the day. As for me, I dedicate some time to reading. I adore books and every time I get into my comfortable reading nook, it feels like a real reward. I think that this is an essential part of self-organization and practice it all the time.
Dedicate Time to Your Family
I won’t hide that when my kids call me “super mom,” I stick my nose up in the air and feel very proud of myself. I know it would never happen if I didn’t spend time with my family. So I complete all my planned work either before my children wake up or before they return from school. Sometimes, I work after they go to sleep. It may seem hard, but I’ve grown used to it. Furthermore, I try to spend special time with my husband. Movies, theaters or quiet evenings in cozy cafes... Believe me, it is always pleasant to feel that thrill while putting on light makeup and a sweet dress.
These are the main guidelines I follow, and they definitely work for me. Of course, there are other details that must be taken into consideration. Whether it's mood, the taste of your morning coffee, the intensity of the morning sunlight that breaks through your window, the smiles on your children’s faces when they see their favorite sandwiches with peanut butter, or the smell of your husband’s fresh shirt, these things can be more important than any rules. So remember the small details that make you happy, try different strategies to improve your life, and always spend enough time with your family.