Friday, January 20, 2012

Do You Have a Hat Rack in Your Office?

Do you have a hat rack in your office? That may seem like an odd question, but as a freelance writer, you’ll need one on which to hang the many hats you’ll have to wear in your business. Coincidentally, there’s a new commercial on T.V. which shows a small business owner entering his office. Everyone working there looks like him because they are. The focus of the commercial is to show how small business owners, like yourself, have to wear many hats to make their businesses successful.

If you thought as a freelancer you were only going to write, think again. The jobs you’ll have to do will range from creator to writer, editor, researcher, interviewer, secretary, salesperson, P.R. exec, bookkeeper, bill collector, general manager, and janitor. If you’re producing ebooks, then add publisher, cover designer, and promoter. Whew! I bet you’re bushed just reading that list.

With such a list of business responsibilities, you’ll have little room for an unprofessional attitude. Unfortunately, many writers often say they don’t have a head for business matters. But you better get one because the success of your freelance business depends on it.

The biggest problem facing you will be finding the time to do all those tasks. While you won’t have to do them all every day, you should create a weekly schedule, so that you don’t overlook any of them, for all of them are important.

To begin, lay out a schedule for the entire week, including Saturday and Sunday, on a spreadsheet. Indicate the time you get up in the morning and the time you go to bed at night. Just because you work for yourself doesn’t mean that you have to work constantly. If you worked for someone else, you’d have hours. Decide if you want to work a normal business day. If so, what time will you arrive at your office and what time will you leave? Most people work from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., so start with that. You can always go “in” early or “leave” late, depending on your work load. Oh, and don’t forget to allow time to eat lunch and perhaps have a short afternoon break.

Next, make a list of all the tasks you need to do for your business each week, allowing time to work on projects. Type in these tasks and work time on your schedule. If you run out of time for say getting ideas or paying bills or filing, you can always do these in the evenings or on weekends. You might want to also schedule some reading time because you’re going to have to do lots of that. And don’t forget your janitorial duties. It won’t take long for your office to look like a tornado swept through it—try to keep up with cleaning and sorting as best you can.

The idea is to get all your jobs done in the time you have. Don’t be a slave to your schedule, but let it guide you through the week. After a while, you’ll automatically know when it’s time to do which task. And don’t forget to dust off your virtual hat rack once in a while.

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