Give Me a Break… A Blogging Break

Anna Goldsmith has some fine tips at Copyblogger for a successful freelance writing career, but they apply to any stay-at-home web worker, especially bloggers.

  1. Create a division between work and home.
  2. Take off your pajamas.
  3. Get to work on time.
  4. Don’t watch TV in the middle of the day.
  5. Go out to lunch.

In reading this, I realized that I violate all these rules often. My desk is in my bedroom, I sometimes wake up and blog in my “pajamas” (looks like a sarong), I get up anywhere between 8 am and 11 am (but usually before 9), I never go out to lunch, and I often watch TV all day and all night.

I know that when I “dress for work”, I’m always more productive. But I have to watch TV because I get a huge source of my “pop culture” knowledge from doing so. And watch a lot of classic movies on TCM and AMC as part of my film studies. It’s a necessity, but I do try to spend at least 3-5 hours straight without the TV on.

As for work time, I’ve always had a sleeping disorder and have lost/quit more jobs because of it than I care to remember. But to me, working at home now, it doesn’t matter, because quality creative output cannot run on a clock. While you can pick a fixed writing schedule and just write whatever you want to, to fill daily word count quotas, it’s not as easy to control what time of day your “useful” content is produced. Though I do find that if I write at least 500 words of non-fiction or 1000 words of fiction before 11 am, I usually have a really good day, even if I take off for several hours in the afternoon or evening. I can usually bank on this “rule” of productivity.

Of course, if you’re blocked and just not generating ideas, you should change your writing perspective. In fact, that’s often a good time to go have lunch to socialize. Otherwise you run the risk of unwittingly becoming a hermit like I did for nearly a year. I’m doing something about that now, but it’s amazing how easy it is to fall into it.

Do you work at home full-time? How many of Anna Goldsmith’s tips do you follow? How do you divide up your work day?

3 thoughts on “Give Me a Break… A Blogging Break

  1. @Lani: Discipline and structure… Ah yes. I try but don’t always succeed.

    @Deb: I do find that once I remember to listen to music all day, I get far more work done… and watch less TV.

    I admire those of you also taking care of children (and husbands/wives) in addition to working at home.

  2. I agree with all of Anna’s points even if I don’t implement them all. My five year old has morning kindergarten so going out to lunch isn’t doable, unless you count the occasional Happy Meal. But I do take time for myself. I visit the library or coffee shop once a week, just to get away. Having to meet the school bus at 11:00 AM tends to rush things, however.

    I don’t have the television on during the day because I don’t want my son watching all day. I prefer to listen to music while I work, anyway. I like waking early (usually around 4) working until the the guys wake, and then going back to work until the school bus drops off. Having specific blocks of time keeps me productive and also lets others know my working hours.

    I don’t work in my pajamas as I do like to get into the “working” mentality. In my pajamas I feel lazy, changing into clothes gives me a different mindset.

    Like Lani, having a young child at home doesn’t always make it easy to work the whole day in the traditional sense, but there are ways of making it work, and thankfully I found the balance.

  3. While not a freelancer, I still consider my blogs and my fiction writing work and I should do all of those things, at least in part, but currently do none of them. The TV isn’t a problem for me, but having a 1 year old is far more distracting than TV.

    Like you, I’ve never slept “normally” and the most productive times for me are nearly always when the rest of the world is asleep and there are no distractions. And there is something to be said for comfort (like pajamas!) when doing creative work.

    Some of those points are valuable even for people who don’t work at home. To work well and live well these days requires a little discipline and structure. I know that doesn’t sound very enticing, but when you “unwittingly become a hermit”, for example, it takes some effort to get the whole life-balance thing right.

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