I’ve had a few weeks off from writing the blog – and I confess, it wasn’t entirely deliberate. I’m sure it happens to all of us once in a while – that sinking feeling when you realise that a project is a bit (all right, a lot) more time-intensive than you thought, and you’ve overbooked. There are various options available at that point, but as I don’t subcontract, and it’s a point of principle to do the work I have committed to, I decided just to get my head down and get on with it.
Now that the end of the tunnel is in sight, and I’ve had time to glance up from my desk, I realise that it’s spring. OK, so I am still wearing three jumpers and a shawl, and I am practically sitting on top of my little office heater … but there are signs of new life, longer days, and general hope for the future (as long as I don’t allow myself to dwell on world politics).
And in spring, I don’t know about you, but I like to take stock and think about how I can shake things up and keep my working life moving in the direction I want.
- Rearranging my working day. Despite the heavy workload of late, I have been working on a personal writing project. I’ve been meaning to do it for decades, but haven’t found the time or the motivation before. I won’t say more than that right now, but suffice it to say that it’s going well. I put it first in my schedule each day, which is a relatively new idea for me. It might seem counterintuitive to prioritise work that may very well never pay, but it’s keeping me happy. If I didn’t put this before the paid work, it would never get done at all, and I might earn a bit more, but my spiritual wellbeing would suffer. It’s a luxury, but it is keeping me sane. And I figure the lesson I have learned here might apply to other ways in which I divide up my work time. It can be helpful to do things in a different order.
- Deciding what to say yes and no to. Every year that passes better conditions me to divine in advance which work offers are going to turn out well (and be well paid) and which are going to add to the grey hair count. This is a process of continual fine-tuning. By the time I have been freelancing for 40 years (retire? Such an outmoded concept) I expect it will have reached optimum capability. For now I console myself with the fact that the feelers are getting more sensitive all the time.
- Thinking about refining my accounting systems. I think about this every year. That’ll do, right?
- Tidying up. I should illustrate this post with a picture of my wider office (the desk, at least, is passable). However, I’m slightly worried about having the blog taken down for publishing obscenities. Let’s just say I have a day blocked out to deal with this soon. It’s going to revolutionise my life for sure, but I don’t think I’ll ever be qualified to write a bestselling book on this subject.
- Dusting down the website. What do you mean, it’s not still 2015? I have briefed the IT department to program the website to update this automatically, but right now it’s the Easter holidays, and he’s looking after the children. What can I say? Sometimes life intervenes.
Liz Jones has worked as an editor in the publishing industry since 1998, and has been freelance since 2008. Occasionally she disappears under a massive pile of work and has to tunnel out with her bare hands.