Here are a couple of snippets from conversations I had with a client last week …
Me: Can you help me prioritise the tasks I need to do this week? I know I need to do a, b, c, d, e, f, g, and possibly h, but I’m not sure which are most urgent.
Client: Sure. Please do c, f, e, h, a, b, d, then g. If you finish those, do i, j and k.
Me: I think I’ve nearly finished. Can that be right?
Client: I think so. Have a good weekend.
Having worked flat out on this project for a couple of months, it seemed incredible that I’d been so engrossed in meeting the deadlines of last week that I’d totally failed to notice that everything would be off my desk this week. So imagine my surprise when I sat down on Monday morning and realised that I don’t actually have anything pressing to do this week. I have a new project coming in towards the end of the month, and some further stages of the busy project to oversee in the next few weeks, but for now the pressure seems to be off for a few days.
What a relief. Or is it? As someone who likes to be busy, I always find it a bit odd when I have a (fortunately rare) bit of down time. When I first became a freelancer, someone who’d been at it for some time told me to make the most of the quiet times because there won’t be many of them. She was right, but I find it very difficult to step away from my desk when I’m so used to being there. I think that’s probably a hangover from working in-house when you’re expected to be at your desk from 9 til 5. Seven years of being my own boss haven’t fixed that quite yet.
Having said that, I have been quite productive in other ways and it’s only Tuesday. Here’s how I’m using my quiet time …
- I’ve published an eBook for ELT Teacher 2 Writer. ELT T2W is one of my other hats. Anyone who has ever published a book on Smashwords will know how time-consuming it can be to meet all of their formatting criteria for inclusion in their Premium catalogue. Amazon is much more straightforward, but having a chunk of time to devote to getting this done is time well spent. On publication day there’s always more activity on our social media so it’s also good to be able to follow up on that as it happens.
- I’ve spent some quiet time doing some reading for ELT T2W. It’s great to be able to focus without emails and Skype messages coming in all the time.
- I’ve written a guest blog post for the Indian Copyeditors Forum and this blog post, which was totally unplanned.
- I’ve read the latest members’ magazine and had a mosey round the forums on the Society for Editors and Proofreaders’ (SfEP) website, having just become a member.
- I’ve thought about installing Adobe DC on my desktop PC. I might actually get round to doing it tomorrow but I’m not feeling brave enough just yet.
- I’ve updated the Recommendations page on my website and my LinkedIn profile.
- I’ve had a wardrobe clearout and taken six bags of stuff to the charity shop. Some stuff I hadn’t worn since I worked in-house in 2008. Ridiculous.
- I’ve arranged to have lunch with a friend on Friday. Can the quiet time last until then? I hope so!
How do you spend your time when you don’t have much paid work on?