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Is Freelance Writing Wasting Your Time?

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on June 21, 2012 in Work at Home Parents
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I was browsing through a popular working mom forum recently and found a popular thread that was both interesting and disturbing. In the thread, moms were discussing their work schedule - a popular topic I like to discuss as well. On the forum, the moms were describing how much of their day they spend dedicated to writing part-time and it disturbed me. A lot.

The Ten-Hour Work Day

The biggest trend I saw for most of these work-at-home moms was that they were working over about ten hours per day. They would do a bit here and a bit there throughout the day. That's nothing new for those of us who work with kids.
The work schedule tends to swell to include all of the various duties that moms perform every month, so I wasn't surprised to see that some moms start working around ten in the morning and do a bit here and there until they finish up right after the kiddo's bedtime.

Time Wasted

What bothered me wasn't that the posters were working when they can - that's a necessity. It's that they weren't actually working most of the time they described as working time. Most of them complained about all of the time they waste surfing the web, checking emails, following social networks and procrastinating. So out of the ten hours they are "working" on and off, they were actually only getting about two hours of work done per day.

That means about eight hours of the day were stressful and wasted because they were thinking about work while not actually working.

Two hours per day is the perfect amount of time to work if you're a part-time writer - at least in my humble opinion. You can easily fit two hours of work in before the kids get up in the morning if you're an early riser or you can squeeze it into a good nap time if you're dedicated.

Most of us seem to work our two hours in the evenings after the kids are in bed. So long as your hourly rate is high, ten hours per week can be nicely lucrative as well.

The Time Problem


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The problem isn't the amount of time these moms actually work that is billable - two hours is two hours. The problem is the amount of time that the moms are using up valuable brain power actively not working!
Why would a mom spend hours every day thinking about work and dreading work and doing little bits and pieces of work when she can have it said and done in the span of a naptime?
I have a feeling it's more a habit than anything else.

Your Time Challenge

The time problem seemed to be pretty common among those with kids working at home, and it's very habit forming to procrastinate and waste time. If you find yourself in a similar spot - spending all day long thinking, dreading and dabbling at work; I'll offer you a true WAHM challenge.

Challenge yourself to do all of your work at once for a change. Make a list of the things you need to do tomorrow. How long should it realistically take? One hour? Two? This isn't a question of how long it's taken you with all of the distractions - it's a question of how long it SHOULD take.

Once you have your list and a reasonable time frame, your goal is to make it fit in that time frame and not even think about it the rest of the day. Set your alarm to get up two hours before your kids do. Or block out your evening so that you have two hours after the work of the mommy day is done.

Then, when the alarm goes off or the kids go down, sit down and work. Don't play on Pinterest or read fifty blog posts. Just work. Go right down your list of things to do until they are done.

You'll be amazed at how much more productive you are and how little time it really can take to earn the same amount you were making dragging your feet throughout the day. Plus you get the rest of your day back to enjoy and be productive in other areas.

If you finish your work time by making a list of things to do tomorrow, you can do it all again the next day. And the next. Pretty soon you'll have a formidable work ethic and a schedule that is far more productive.

Just be sure to leave yourself time for marketing once you get your billable hours productive and you'll ensure that you keep that productivity level constant and profitable going forward.

Good luck!

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Rebecca is a full-time everything. She teaches English and reading to her much loved, if challenging, high school students during the day and is a freelance education writer in the evenings. With almost ten years in the classroom and advanced degrees in business and information science, Rebecca specializes in materials that inform, educate and entertain. Rebecca indulges herself by pretending to have spare time and writing about the ups and downs of being a freelancing mama whenever she gets a chance.

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5 Comments

  1. Andrea June 21, 2012 Reply

    Thank you for the tip. I am a new WAHM and am still trying to find the time to get my hours in. It seems when I set my alarm in the morning, the baby decides to wake up earlier than normal. When I have tried to work after the baby goes down, he struggles to get to sleep and then I’m exhausted. It is definitely a new adjustment. I do find that I work during every nap. My newborn usually takes about four naps a day right now so it works. Hopefully when he is older and more on a schedule, I can find more regular time to work.

  2. Amandah June 22, 2012 Reply

    I’m not a WAHM, although I feel like one because my cat Benny is like a child. Anyway…I’ve gotten into a good flow with my freelance writing. I limited the time I check my social media sites and cut back on email. I’ll look at my email if I know a client is emailing me something. I also got back into working out since the temperatures are hot, hot, hot! I need to work out and had to schedule it. Now, I’m back to working out 5-7 days and feel better. It’s helping me with my writing too. :)

  3. Amandah June 22, 2012 Reply

    Okay, it’s still early for me. I meant to say, “My freelance writing business is flowing smoothly.” I better get a cup of coffee.

  4. Crystal June 22, 2012 Reply

    Good point, Rebecca – I always LOVE your posts! I find it to be true that tasks expand to fill the time allotted to them. If you’ve got a lot of time and enjoy stretching things out, no problem. But if you’re a busy, busy, BUSY WAHM, it’s amazing how much you can get done if you set a time limit and can focus all your attention to the task at hand.

  5. Allena June 22, 2012 Reply

    Rebecca- I am your new biggest fan! All I can say is RIGHT?

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