I’m gearing up to get back to work as my maternity leave comes to an end. No, I’m not an actual employee, I’m self-employed. I still planned to not work for six weeks after the baby arrived. And as that time ends, going back to work for myself is every bit as critical as it would be if I had a boss to answer to. Even more so, in fact, because my responsibilities and obligations just increased. So how am I going back to work when my six weeks are up but I still have a newborn to care for? Preparation, and here are some strategies.
- Prioritize to make the best use of time. Tasks fall into two loose categories: things I can do while the baby is awake, and things I can only do while the baby is asleep. If I can do it with her awake, I don’t waste sleeping time on it. And I start with the most important or urgent task on my to do list, in case that is the only thing I get done.
- Make work mobile. If I can do it on the go, I can take it with me and work wherever I happen to be when I find myself with a few free minutes.
- Keep the current project open. I can read and make notes even if I’m not free to write, keeping the project at work in my head. That way, when I have time to sit down and write for five minutes or an hour, I don’t waste that time figuring out where I left off and where to start.
- Know your work style and work with it. I am most productive working on multiple projects at the same time. By not forcing myself to only do one thing, I can maximize my productivity instead of frustrating it.
- Focus on the goal. It’s easy to get distracted by everything from self-doubt to Shiny Thing Syndrome, but that leads to lost time and mental energy that needs to go into work. If my goal is to keep writing and publishing and earning an income, I need to work. All I have to do is ask myself if worrying about whether I’m working on the wrong project or writing badly or if I should spend my day reading about the latest publishing news is going to help me achieve my goal of write/publish/earn to stay on track.
Some handy tips from others on preparation for productivity:
April Kihlstrom on Book in a Week
Michael Moorcock on writing a book in 3-10 days
And of course Candace Haven’s Fast Draft workshop is full of information, inspiration, and support for writing a book in two weeks.