Over the summer, I took three weeks off. My family and I traveled to Ireland and Scotland, and then stopped in New York on the way home.
During those three weeks, I spent a total of five minutes on work. There was one small thing I needed to check on. I checked it. It looked good. And that was it for working while on vacation.
Now, taking time off isn’t new to me. I regularly take a full week off, two or three times a year.
And occasionally, I’ll take a two-week vacation.
But since I’ve been freelancing, I don’t know that I’ve ever taken a full three-week, no-work-at-all vacation.
When I take a week off, I’m eager to come back to work. And if I take two weeks off, I spend that second week kind of itching to reconnect with my schedule and my routine.
But three weeks was different.
I got past that feeling of I-need-to-be-working.
That made coming back to work harder. I kept feeling like I was missing steps… There were things I’d completed before I left that I did a second time, having forgotten that I’d already done them. And there were things I didn’t do because I thought I’d gotten them done ahead of time.
Besides those little stumbles, not only did I get back into my work routine, but I’m more on top of things now than I have been in a while.
Don’t get me wrong… from the outside in, it usually looks like I’m on top of everything. I hit my deadlines. I answer my emails. I do good work. I own my mistakes.
But scrambling is pretty normal for me. And there are a lot of stressed-out, frustrated moments where I lament that I’m never going to be caught up on everything… much less work ahead. Or where I feel like my projects — the important, but not urgent stuff — have taken up permanent residence on a back burner.
But now, after taking time off — and it took several weeks between coming back and hitting my stride — I seem to be moving into caught-up-dare-I-say-working-ahead territory. It’s pretty cool… and a little unnerving, to be honest.
So, what’s different?
That’s hard for me to answer because I didn’t really connect the change with taking time off until just a few days ago.
But I think two things are in play.
First, I had to plan way ahead to prepare for my vacation. And having proved to myself that I can do that… I’m still doing it.
Second, sometime since my return from taking time off, it really clicked for me that inventing my own productivity/time management system is just fine. There are so many great systems out there, it’s easy when you read about one, to feel like you need to adopt it. I’m finally just embracing what works for me, without worrying about what the experts say. And boy, is that making a difference.
So, if you struggle with time management, maybe take a long break (if you can). You might come back with fresh eyes.
And when it comes to managing your time, listen to what the experts say, but then do what works for you.
New on the Site
Of all the social networks out there, LinkedIn is the most geared toward business. Which means it’s a good place to be as a freelance writer. Work on your own LinkedIn Profile as part of this month’s Practice Assignment.
The more questions you ask at the onset of a project, the better idea you’ll have of what direction you need to take the project, and the less you’ll have to do in the way of revisions. John Torre shares 12 questions that will get your projects off to a strong start.
With the rise of computers, have you been searching for an alternative to pen and paper for keeping track of your to-dos? Maybe you’ve tried online apps, only to find them less than satisfying… If that’s the case, you’re not alone. Andrew Murray shares his own process of coming to terms with some old-school organization methods.
Mark Your Calendar
September 25: You’ve made the decision to be a freelance writer. You’ve set up your home office… polished your skills… set up a LinkedIn Profile… maybe even a website. You’re ready. But now what? How do you bring in the clients? Join me for a live webinar this Wednesday at 3 p.m., Eastern Time, and I’ll share a step-by-step process you can use to build your client base.
Around the Web
Need a quick overview on what cornerstone content is? You can find that here.
As a content marketer, you have a lot of different tools at your disposal. Check out the 12 most popular types of content here.
Use these tips to breathe some fresh life into your email marketing campaigns.
A lot more goes into Search Engine Optimization than you might realize… which means the opportunity for good SEO copywriters is bigger than you might have guessed.
That’s all for now. Make it a great week!