I've been a freelance writer for 18 years now, which in itself terrifies me. There were a handful of years around the turn of the millennium when I did the magazine office thing, but those aside I've always been self-employed. I've never really made much effort to manage my time by any set rules. If anything, deadlines have dictated when I work. Wait for the deadline to start looming, for the heart to start thumping in fear of failure and it's amazing how motivation suddenly blooms.
Today was the first day of a new experiment. I'm going to try working near-enough office hours on week-days. While the joys of the freelance lifestyle include being able to have humungous lie-ins and go down the pub in the afternoon if it takes your fancy, that approach also has drawbacks. I regularly surprise 'normal hours'-type folk by working on Saturdays and Sundays. In a way, the weekend feels like any other days to me. Hardly notice it, apart from the lack of Sunday mail. Even worse, I feel guilty when I'm trying to relax. I'll be watching a film and think how I could be working instead. Annoying. Where do you draw the line?
I'll tell you where: right here. So say hello to the New Regime. Working from 10am til 6pm. I love the idea of having a definite cut-off point at the end of each working day. Even more so, the concept of having weekends free. Here's how today went...
0915: The alarm goes off. Up for breakfast, etc. Aiming to start work at 10.
1030: I start work. Clearly, I've underestimated how long it takes me to get into work mode. Tomorrow, I'll set the alarm half-an-hour earlier. Simple. And today, I'll keep working 'til 6.30pm to make amends. The morning goes very well. I get a lot done.
1330: Half an hour later than the scheduled lunchbreak, I head out into Camden to do a few things. Bank, post office, fighting a drunken Spaniard in an alleyway. That last one isn't true, naturally: just trying to spice this bit up, before your eyelids start to droop.
1430: Back at my desk, by Christ! Work, work, work. Focus. Nothing but work. If it isn't work, I'm not interested. Give me work or give me death!
1630: I can't find my remaining cigars. Yes, pity me, reader. After two years of non-smoking, I recently succumbed and returned to the stupid habit. I'm so addicted at present that my lack of cigars distracts me from work. So I go back out and buy some. Damn it.
1650: Back at the desk, puffing away like a cock. Loads of work done on two features for Doctor Who Magazine, which I'm tackling simultaneously. Hey, this is good stuff! Mother of God, this... just... might... work!
1830: Here I am, talking to you, feeling quite satisfied with the day. Of course, it's never going to be cut-and-dried simple. For instance, I have films which I need to watch, for review. Is that really work? Well, yes, it is, when you'd rather be watching something else - but could I justify watching them during these office hours? And tonight I have an episode of Hustle to review for heat magazine, but I like the show, so I think I can file that under 'relaxation'.
Now, how am I going to fit the gym into this schedule? More to the point, when am I going back down there, full-stop? It's been a month...
Does anyone else work to office hours at home? Commiserate, congratulate or just tell me the pitfalls, why don'tcha?