The thoughts come as the waves build up, meandering like the clouds in the vast sky. I breathe. A long, slow breath!… My mind wanders to moments lived and gone by. The journeys taken and the journeys that could not be. All the while just the couplet in my mind: “Two roads diverged in a wood, And I took the one less travelled by…” with a question hovering: “Will it make all the difference?”
There are so many questions. So many answers waiting to be discovered. Which one is right? Is there a right? But now, like right now, does it really matter to get all the answers? Can’t it be just put aside for some time else, some place else?
The noise of the waves silences the noise inside me … calming the turmoil as the outside engulfs me in itself — drenched, drowned, drifted away! — as I sit on the rocks staring blankly at the sea. Watching the waves forming … coming with a gush and dying at the rocks. Time stops right there at that spectacle and yet I am reminded of its flow by the very flow of the waves.
A different wave each time, a different time each wave.
Time froze, right? Yes. And time flowed immeasurably? Yes. Both Yes. That was the magic of it. The completeness. The infiniteness of it, taking me away from all the chaos, the turbulence of my thoughts — to just watch the waves, savor the moment, and feel.
It is so uncommon. To be there. Just. To actually be alive to the time present and forget about the trails of the past and the paths of the future. That moment of serenity. Meditative? Kind of.
As I looked beyond… to the horizon… sea merging with the sky… a beginning of yet another contemplative voyage that is to be taken some time else. For now, the waves come to me as I wave back to them. And they go just as seamlessly. And all that remains is the water, the feeling, the bliss. Now.
Freelancing can be overwhelming, I know. Despite putting in long working hours, there are times when we are not able to get work done. Because there’s so much to do… Client projects, revisions, responses to prospects, pitches, invoices, meetings, calls, follow ups, managing personal brand, social media, collaborating… 😅
I know because I have been running my freelance business from some time too. Being productive seems really tough when you’ve so much on the plate. But, you know what… The problem isn’t that you got less time. The problem isn’t even more work.
The root of the problem lies in management.
Over time, I’ve figured out something that works for me (and might as well for you!).
With this, I increased my productivity by x10 times, am not always running to get work done, have a better work-life balance, and time for self and family as well.
The #1 tip that I follow for myself:
Block out time pockets for a particular type of work.
Confused? Well! It’s simple. Dedicate a fixed number of hours or a particular time of the day for each task.
Here’s an example of my typical workday routine:
1️⃣ I start off by making my to-do list for the day (this can also be done the night before!) — so, I don’t have to remember the tasks, freeing up mind space for work. And also, I hate remembering stuff that can be written down.
3 points here —  I prioritize the task that needs to be done first, second, and third.  That priority is also based on the time it’d take to complete that task.  Most important, the priority is based on the deadlines I’ve given to myself.
So, if I can complete 1 task in 1 hour v/s 5 tasks in 1 hour, I prefer to do the latter (if any deadline is not pending on that 1 task!). You know the pscyhological thing: satisfaction of getting more things checked off your list.
2️⃣ Then, in time pocket #1, I have a fixed dedicated time for my major writing work (eg: 9 am – 12 noon). At that time, I don’t check mails, don’t respond to messages, no social media, no invoicing, nothing. I just work on the project at hand (priority-wise!).
And because I don’t have 10 other tasks to remember [thank the to-do list], I can get my projects done much faster.
3️⃣ After this, I take a break. Stretch. Finish other chores. Have food. Walk a little. Talk a little 🙂
4️⃣ Then, in the time pocket #2, I handle the administrative tasks like replying to emails, client calls, team meetings, etc. In between two calls, I make invoices, agreements, etc. — Note how I use the empty 10-15 minutes in between calls to finish up tasks that require my presence, but not my 100% attention (like making and sending invoices).
5️⃣ Break. Snack time. Food fuels the mind 😉
6️⃣ Then, towards the evening, the time pocket #3 is dedicated to social media and personal branding. I plan out my content calendar, create content, reply to messages, catch up with colleagues, engage, interact, etc.
This gives a general idea of my workday. But, I do shuffle up the time pockets as and when required. Days with no meetings/calls are replaced with client work. Social media time can get shuffled. So, it depends on you and what works for you.
I have figured out my productive hours. Some people are productive in the night, some early morning. This time before noon suits me the best because of my personal reasons.
I do not follow this routine very strictly. Because I cannot stick to one routine for a long time as it becomes boring for me 😅 — So, I keep shifting the the tasks allocated to each time pocket. But, again, 2 things here:  Afternoons (where I usually become somewhat lazy) are reserved for non-writing tasks (like calls, etc.) – so I stay awake. When I don’t have that work pending, I usually take a nap! (Perks of being a freelancer!)  MOST IMPORTANT: My work hours are fixed.
This works best when, like me, you also prefer to work in sprints rather than all at a go. Plus, with this method, I am able to channelize my energy on the task at hand and avoid distractions or pressures of pending tasks – because you know there’s a dedicated time for other work as well.
There are numerous other ways with which I manage my work better. More on that later 🙂
“Simran, can anyone be a writer that gets admiration? Or is writing not everyone’s cup of tea?”
I had this to reply…
Yes, anyone can write. In fact, we are all writing on a day to day basis without realizing — Messages, comments, post captions, emails. And we all have definitely written our language exams, haven’t we?
So, yes, we all are writers.
Now, the difference why some are “writer” writers and some aren’t is… choice.
These “writers” chose to pursue that path with their practice and passion.
…They looked for opportunities to write everywhere.
…They carried a notebook and pen everywhere they went. (Because who knows when inspiration strikes!)
…They lived and breathed words.
…They read like a maniac, and wrote like a mad scientist.
…They sat down with a pen, staring at the blank paper, and making an article out of their existential crisis.
…They kept trying to find the meaning of their life in the words they wrote.
…They kept on honing their skills with learning and improvement.
…They dedicated their life to this craft.
And they did it all everyday. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Unfailingly. Without giving up.
When I first started posting on LinkedIn, I was anxious.
What would I write about? How could I make an impact? Would people read what I share?
Shrugging off all the thoughts, I went ahead and published my first post. And then the second one. And the third.
I started to get a hang of things as the days went by. Amidst everything, here’s what I learnt:
Take that step that you are hesitant about.
Trust that you’d figure it out along the way!
Be patient. And persistent.
People! You can’t know it all when you start. I too didn’t know how things worked. I didn’t know what I’d post the next week. I didn’t know what would work or what won’t. I didn’t even know if anyone would engage on my posts or not.
But, I posted. And kept posting. And engaging.
I tried to provide something that would add value, help others. I posted my experiences and knowledge – something that I was looking for when I started.
I didn’t learn it anywhere. I also didn’t know the how and why and when.
I read. I imbibed. I did.
Now, it has been more than a year on LinkedIn. And I’ve made more than 300 posts! Been a long journey, but hey! It’s still the start 🙂
So, just let go of everything. Don’t overthink. Write. And hit that POST button!