Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Arranging Your Work Day

How and when do you work? Some of us have jobs outside of the home. Some of us have jobs inside the home. I work from home. What used to be a spare bedroom is now my office (except when company comes, then my office is a corner in our bedroom with a folding table and a lamp).

I think one problem with working from home is that you work pretty much all the time. When I get up, the first thing I do is carry the dog downstairs (she’s too old to come down by herself anymore) and take her out. I then turn on my computer and my day has started. If I don’t get too caught up in something, I’ll take a break at 7 to watch the opening of the morning national news to catch the headlines, then I try to watch the full 30 minutes of the 5:30 evening news.

I’ve figured out that if there’s an evening show on that I want to watch, I can instead listen while I do things on the computer.

I keep an ongoing To-Do list and cross things off as I get them done. I enjoy taking the pencil and marking through them. I switch from project to project. I might do an hour or two editing work, then stop so I can let what I’ve read simmer. Then I’ll do a couple of hours on my own book (which has a looming due date of April 15th). Then I may take on work that I do for a national company. Then back to editing and so on.

I do some work on weekends, but spend more time relaxing, cleaning house, checking the garden, and doing my most horrific chore, grocery shopping. I need to switch that chore to a weekday. I could write a long litany of things I hate about going to the grocery store on the weekends.

What about you? When do you find time to write? How do you squeeze it in? What about all your other writing-related activities, like promotion on Twitter and other social sites, networking with other writers, contacting media, editing, blogging, and on and on.

What is a typical day like for you?


  1. I have to keep a list too. I'm such a emailer/social networker/blogaholic that I have to have it taped to my monitor to keep me focused on getting my WIP's worked on, my editing work done, my errands run, my meals eaten, take my daily long walk, and GO TO BED by midnite! :)

  2. I do write down errands and chores, but somehow I remember to eat and sleep. Thanks Marvin. You are a social butterfly across the Internet!

  3. Lists are my best friend too.

    I'm not working full-time at the moment, so I'm not sure how I would manage to blog, write, etc when I am working again...

  4. It's funny how writers, at least here, are all list makers. Marvin, like you I waste far too much time on the internet. I am an email addict. I can't just leave it alone.

    Helen like you I work from home and have a very strict schedule. I also am always juggling many projects which I enjoy because when my steam runs out on one it is very easy to jump to another and no time is wasted staring out the window - radio lessons, textbooks, TV scripts, novel, short stories etc. I find it works great like that.


    NB: Hilarious that Chinese translation. I love direct translations in any language- very amusing.

  5. I know if I didn't keep an ongoing list, I would miss a lot of stuff.

    And Lauri, I'm a bit like you. I have to really watch myself or I'd be checking email boxes all day, especially when I'm waiting on an interview subject to get back with me. But I have to go online three or four times a day, just to cull through it or it backs up. The problem is, I'll star something so I'll know to go back to it, then it disappears off the page because of all the other mail. This weekend, I've got to check all starred mail to see what I've missed!

  6. I have teenagers in school all day, so I consider the time they're gone my 'work time.' I have consistently been writing from late morning to mid afternoon, doing errands before and after. Even though the kids are older, I try not to work when they're home because I get so sucked into the computer monitor it's a bit disconcerting to be present, but not.

    Right now, in the revision stages of my first novel, I consider anything to do with writing as part of my work - reading blogs or writing a post, research, getting my name out there with published essays and articles etc. It all results (fingers crossed) with the same end.

  7. I'm about the same, Helen. Get the dogs out, the kid up and out the door, grab my coffee and hit the computer. If I want to write that day, I will skim my emails and whatnot, and spend two or three hours writing and then looing at blogs or my forum, and answering emails. Eat lunch, figure out dinner, do a few chores, nap, and hit the computer another couple of hours, do more chores, serve dinner talk to my guys, hubs and son, and work another 2 or more hours before bed.

    For me, to get anything done, I have to treat everything like a job, which it is, but at home. That's whether I'm writing, doing promotions with my clients, reading submissions, writing blog articles, or scheduling guests. It's a job. Not always easy because there is a great deal of jugggling going on between writing and getting things done around the house.

  8. Your day sounds like mine! If I am home, I'm in my office working.

    I tend to intersperse housework type duties throughout my day, but I also don't stop for weekends. (My husband does the grocery shopping - thank God!)

    I've always been a sporadic writer - a little bit here & there - so it fits in well with my schedule. I'm very Type A and restless, so I can't focus on one task for long without going bonkers. My 'break' is usually writing!

    L. Diane Wolfe

  9. I work at home part time, outside the home full time, and homeschool a 5-yr-old. And yeah, I write novels.

    I used to go to bed feeling guilty each night because I could never get enough done, until I went back to having a detailed schedule. I divvied up writing, editing, promotion, housework, etc. so I have one focus each day. Of course I also do these other days, but as long as the "main" item gets done, the rest is gravy. I sub-schedule each, so a different room gets tackled each housework day, I know which promo day to send out my newsletter, etc.

    I don't just schedule To Do lists, either. I include creative pursuits, movie and games, date nights, etc. I can look forward to these now and enjoy them without guilt.

    This approach has really increased my productivity and decreased stress. It's helped me begin to tame my chaotic blogging and social networking habits...though I'm still working on a schedule for the latter. Viva la micromanagement!


  10. Grocery shopping on the weekends so much better than the weekends.

    I'm another list fiend. What needs to get done today, this week, and month.

    I'm liking Lisa's method of adding the fun stuff to the list as well. I'm going to give that a try...:D


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  12. I start out taking care of home issues (clean-up, dishes, etc.) while I try to consume enough coffee to be awake. Then I spend the next few hours blogging and checking e-mails and others' posts.

    Once I'm really awake, I log in to do my paid work online. I take another break to check e-mail and blogs around noon (and sporadically throughout the day, as necessary), then back to paid work until my husband comes home from his out-of-the-house job.

    I try to focus on him and on projects around the house after that for the rest of the evening. It really depends on the day, though.

  13. Whenever I try to schedule my day something comes up to 'unschedule' it so I need to come up with a better system. Right now whenever I have a free minute I run in my office (also known as the guest bedroom) and either blog, visit blogs, work on marketing,or write until the next interruption!

    Jane Kennedy Sutton

  14. TexasRed, you are much more organized than I am. You are my idol.

    And, Jane, I know just how your feel. Something always seems to come up to waylay plans and schedules!

  15. My day job takes up most of my day until around 3:00 and then my kids' activities and dinner takes until 6-7:00. Then I usually mix in doing some laundry or baking while I check blogs, facebook, twitter and email. Sometime after 9:00 is my writing time. I'm very productive if everyone else goes to bed or if they're all in the family room watching a game on TV or something. I accomplish quite a bit in my few hours of alone time.

  16. I also work from home. Usually I get up around 6 or 7 in the morning. I take my dog out for a little walk, then I sit down around 7:30 or so to start working. I work until about 2 for my job, and then I start working on my personal writing and editing projects. Sometimes, it feels like there aren't enough hours to devote to the stuff that I love, but one day. I have it all mapped out. :)

  17. Yes, Helen, it's a problem, working at home, meaning working all the time. A couple of things have helped me. First, taking planned "off time" so I'm not always working. Second, I teach exercise classes part time and that gives me something to schedule against.

    And lists help too, although I've been known to work more on the lists than the writing!

  18. I write when I can, on the train, or at home. I market also on the train, at work, at home.

    Morgan Mandel

  19. I write when I can, on the train, or at home. I market also on the train, at work, at home.

    Morgan Mandel

  20. I am an organizational misfit. I work full time; leave home at 7:30 AM and get home around 5:40. When I get home I wander around on the internet then write for a while, then read some blogs, do a little research, read a little from what ever two novels I am reading at the time and watch some TV. I have no idea what I will do next. Still manage to write three to five thousand words a week on my WIP. (Actually I have 2 novels going plus a textbook and a short story collection—truly the victim of an extraordinary mixed up mind. I also blog sporadically, play with the grand kids and took in an Elton John concert last weekend—wow I’m tired, time to do something else—not sure what. Just wanted all of you to know that there are a few of us just wandering around, surprised at what comes up next.

    “The answer to the great question of……..Life, the Universe and Everything…… (is) Forty-two.”
    -Douglas Adams-

  21. I fall for every time suck imaginable, especially my own blog and those of my blog buddies. Unfortunately, the wireless hook up makes the internet all to easy. Sometime I think I should go back to dial up so I don't waste so much time!

  22. Well, maybe we should all try rambling around. You sure are getting a lot done!

  23. I have wireless and it still can be slow, like today. It's DSL, though.

    We can't get cable where I live. We think about getting satellite, but then we stay at a hotel with umpteen channels and there's still nothing to watch. To relate that to the Internet - I probably would love cable, but I'm doing okay with DSL

  24. "When I get up, the first thing I do is carry the dog downstairs (she’s too old to come down by herself anymore) and take her out."

    That's sweet. Poor dog. We have a three story. No problem for the dog, but it's getting hard for ME to go up and down. :p

    I have a day job, so I write at night and on the weekends. I have a dormer in our third floor bedroom that I use as my office. It's tight, but effective.


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