3-21-06

During your work week, do you build time into your schedule for destressing? For some reason, we writers believe that we have to be working nonstop and at least twelve hours a day in order to be successful and happy. Not so. In fact, success comes more from effective planning of your work week, including allowing yourself time to unwind and breathe.

My typical day starts at 7:30 a.m. I boot up the computer, grab my cup of tea, and sit down to read emails. Because emails have a tendency to pull you away from your workload, I choose to answer them in the morning before most offices are open. That way, I’ve touched base in some way before I’ve even started my workday.

By 10 a.m., I’m usually ready for a break. I cruise the writing forums (my favorite being www.aboutfreelancewriting.com), swap stories with online writing buddies, share info with beginning writers, and generally gain and give support.

By noon or later, I’m ready to eat. But first, out to the park to walk and run and reconnect with myself. The fresh air and the exercise provides a great pick-me-up, and gives me enough energy to go back to work with a renewed sense of purpose.

After lunch, back to work. On slow days, I spend the afternoons searching various websites looking for contract work, or posting ads on Craig’s List. If the day is really slow, I’ll commit more time to answering emails, cleaning my desk, clearing up files, or contacting old clients with a quick hello email and a request that they contact me if they need a writer.

Notice that I have a routine that includes breaks? That’s on purpose. It makes it much more enjoyable to sit down to work knowing that I’ve also scheduled time to myself. That’s what you should be doing, too.

Don’t forget that even good routines need to be broken to avoid boredom. Give yourself permission to destress. Allow yourself to get away from the desk and to reconnect with the outside world. I go out once a week to Starbucks and swap war stories with my writer friend. And when that desk chair looks as enticing as a torture chamber, I grab the laptop and move to another room just to break up the monotony.

Routines are a great way to discipline yourself and bring a more efficient use of time to your day. Just allow yourself to break from routine once in a while.

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