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This Freelance Writer Finds First Things First Works

productive writersWe had temperatures over the weekend exceeding 104 °F or so. I was attempting a sesshin, but by 2 pm realized I had a headache and was getting nauseous – in other words, some heat exhaustion was setting in.

I carefully took myself home. I slept most of that afternoon and, because it was still hot the next day, did nothing much which felt exactly right. In other words, I took good care of myself.

Today when I sat down at the computer to begin my freelance writing day I felt physically pretty good, and mentally like I’d been away from everything for a month or more.

My hit list stood me in good stead and shortly I was working on my primary writing project. Because I am committed to being accountable at least to myself through the hit list I could tell quickly exactly what my main project is at the moment. Since I’m also determined to spend the first hour or so each work day on that project I got busy.

That’s the first hour – not after email, which had stacked up and not with the radio on. Not after a game of solitaire. Not after checking twitter  or the 5 Buck Forum or any of the other digital distractions available to all of us these days.

In my case it’s right after meditation, but the real point is that the first hour begins when I sit down at the computer. That’s my own signal for the start of my work day.

Only my senior cat, MzTiz is allowed to interrupt me during that period and then only to check on her food. That’s brief, believe me.

What really caught my attention this morning is how well it works for me to spend that first hour or so on my most important writing.

I was at my most creative – mornings are my best creative times.

Because I’ve been working steadily every workday on this project it was easy to slip back into it even though I’d had sort of a lost weekend and felt out of touch when I started.

I was delighted with the progress I made. Isn’t it great to be pleased with your progress?

Spending the first hour or so on a single writing project doesn’t mean others don’t get done. In fact I find it easier to get client work done and blogs written after I’ve allowed myself to use my creativity and productivity where I think it will do the most good.

John Soares over at Productive Writers often talks about how distractions like the ‘net can reduce our productivity. It’s a site worth exploring.

How do you spend your first writing work hour?


Let Anne coach you.

Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by kadavy

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Sandy Sampson

    Glad you’re feeling better, Anne.
    I like your approach to devoting your first hour to writing before distractions of the day encroach. Aside from digital distractions, I also have the four-legged variety, so I try to get a good walk in with my dog and make sure the cat is content (well fed!) before I settle in to work. Sometimes I need to get up extra early and spend an hour or two working before the animals awake and the rest of the world catches up. Love those days when I can cross things off the list before my first cup of coffee!

    • I don’t think I can get up early enough to fool the cats… even a quick 2 am jaunt to the john often results in at least one cat asking for, and getting, a snack. But i love the moment in the morning when they are all fed and it’s quiet.

  • Hi Anne,
    Early mornings are my best productive time as well. I tackle work a bit differently though by first writing on my blogs to get the juices flowing and then going to an assignment, or other wip…

    Thanks for the writing insight.
    Clara Freeman recently posted..New Fall Television SeriesMy Profile

  • Michael Tobin

    I do agree that there are a lot of digital distractions available to all of us these days. My way to reduce their influence is to track how I spend my time on them. I have been trying the service of IceDeep WorkTracker. Frankly I don’t know how it operates but so far it works well to track how I use my computer throughout the day. I just realized I have been much more productive at night. I guess I have to fine tune my workday. It is not free, though. I don’t understand why the company doesn’t offer free trial. Anyway, see if this helpful.

  • Chloe Louise

    Hi Anne,
    For the year 2011, a freelance writer spent a total of 1,022 working hours on average. These are butt-in-chair hours writing, editing, translating and doing administrative work, along with travel hours and meeting hours. For comparison, a full time job is 2,080 hours per year. So, this freelancer worked almost exactly half time last year.

    Isn’t it great?
    -Chloe Louise
    Chloe Louise recently posted..Workers Comp ClaimMy Profile

    • Way to go… and good for you for tracking your time… how do you do it?

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