Structure. Routine. Schedules.
This is one of the shambling horrors of my life, undying and undefeatable. How the heck do I manage my time and keep my sanity? For me, the answer is to create reliable routines and task management/calendar systems for myself, and then stick to the plan.
The sticking? Yeah, that's the hard part. In freelance life, it's easy for your personal life and work to blur together. Maybe you go grocery shopping in the middle of the day. And then you accommodate a client and take a two-hour conference call starting at 7pm. And then you're sending work out at a little past midnight, and then keeping your kid home from preschool because you feel guilty about working such dodgy hours...
Bit by tiny bit, circumstance will do its damnedest to wash away every sign of structure you've ever built for yourself. The end result is chaos in the streets (or, OK, in your life.) Maintaining a healthy, shiny system for doing the work is just as important as doing the work itself. I don't know about you, but without structure, I just don't get as much work done. Sometimes as little as no work at all!
I've been on the downhill slope of the structure sine wave for a little while now. It's been pretty terrible, I have to tell you. But the nice thing is that every day brings a chance for a fresh start.
This week, I've made that fresh start.
To be more specific than you may care to know, I've been cleaning out my calendar (If you're curious, I use iCal, with subscriptions to multiple Google calendars, all also synced to my phone). I've resumed vigilant obedience to my task manager (Things.app, also synced to my phone). I've been making sure I have reminders on my computer and phone for time-sensitive events like meetings and karate lessons. For one shining moment, I even hit Inbox Zero!
And you know what? I got truckloads of stuff done this week, leaps and bounds more than any week in recent memory, and it's only Wednesday. Some of them were things I've had knocking around for weeks. Some I've been meaning to get to for months. And while I'm not a full-blown GTD kind of girl, David Allen has one thing completely right: When you don't have enough structure, the weight of all of the stuff you're not doing drags you down and keeps you from creating. And we all know that making stuff is my most favorite thing in the world.
It feels good to be back on schedule. Now to stick to it.