What I’m reading: Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
What I’m listening to: Love Test by The Growlers
What a weekend! The sun was out, the weather warmed up, and I was in the garden. We had a ton of rain this past week, some freezing weather, but the ground was soft enough to get the weeds out. And thanks to a warm Christmas (the neighbor’s cherry tree bloomed), the weeds were thick.
Happy Leap Day! To my first cousin, happy birthday! She’s about 9 now by the number of birthdays she’s had. And while it’s an extra day in our year, rare is the freelance writer who actually plans something useful of those extra 24 hours.
We can’t help it — it slips right in there as part of a normal work week.
Not this year. If we want our freelance writing career to give back to us what we put into it, we should plan to get at least one new thing into our freelancing life. Here are a few activities to try today:
1. Conduct a client inventory. List the clients you’ve worked with in the past year, past two years, past four years. Look through your old invoices, emails, and Word files. Make sure you’ve located them all. Now go down the list. Which ones did you enjoy working with? Highlight those ones. Which ones gave you a lot of work that was enjoyable? Who paid you well and treated you well? Those are the people you should re-establish connections with. Some of them may have moved on to other jobs. Use LinkedIn to find them, if you need to.
2. Prepare for your rainy day. Now is a great time to look at your savings accounts. Did you manage to put anything aside last year? Was it what you’d hoped to save? How about your retirement funds? And how did you do keeping up with the taxes? What percentages would you like to set aside each check for those areas? Write them on a sticky note and attach them to your monitor, or set up automatic withdrawals from your checking into your savings, retirement, or tax account.
3. Review your online security. I had my first hacking last month (and thank you, Jenn Mattern, for coming to my rescue so quickly). While I was offline maybe three hours, it was a reminder to change the passwords. Mine was pretty strong, but clearly not strong enough. I now use LastPass to generate (and save) my passwords in one place. How secure are your online accounts? Today’s a great day to create a new batch of really tight passwords.
4. Establish your admin schedule. I know I leave my own paperwork to the last minute. When the pile of invoices, notes, to-do lists, and bills threaten to bury the keyboard, I’ll move on it. Instead, today is a great day to schedule a five-minute session at the end of each day (really — schedule it like an appointment) to file, toss, and deal with those scraps of paper.
5. Introduce one new activity that will improve your creativity. Maybe you want to take that free creative writing course or browse that growing list of freelance blogs or articles you bookmark but never seem to get to. Maybe you’d love to read poetry or a classic. Or maybe you want to attend a local painting or writing class. Today’s the day to put it on your calendar and off the wish list.
6. Send your favorite clients a thank-you note. Why not use your extra day this year to thank those who have made your career in writing possible? Either by email or by snail mail (I myself would use snail mail), send your sincere thanks. They deserve it.
Writers, have you used leap day to improve your freelancing career?
What other advice can you give for making the most of this extra day?