It’s almost time to start another year! Parents and teachers know exactly what I’m talking about. They live in my universe where January is simply part of winter break and the REAL year starts in mid-August or early September when kids go back to school. In this family, I always go back to school and I’ll have one heading off to kindergarten *stifle sob* and another in a preschool that follows my district’s calendar.
So in a matter of two weeks my life will pick up in intensity to a level that even I can’t believe I endure. Of course, like all new school years, it’s time to plan out the next 9 or 10 months. Since my brain is overwhelmed most of the time anyhow, I just make everything but taxes applicable to a school calendar – so this is the time that start new initiatives for business as well.
Take a Day Off!
I generally work seven days a week for anywhere from two to four hours per day after the little angelic demons head off to bed. It makes for a long week, but it pays the bills. This year, however, I’m going to work a bit less on an hourly basis and take a day off each week. I haven’t decided which day it will be yet, although I’m leaning to Mondays.
Sundays are always a day to rush around and get ready for the week, so it would be a logical choice, but then it wouldn’t feel very relaxing – more like a countdown to a shark frenzy Monday morning. Friday might be the best day, but then I’m usually finishing up things that get delayed earlier in the week. Right now my gut impulse is to avoid scheduling projects on Mondays since that is a drag of a day anyhow and Dancing with the Stars comes on Monday nights.
Build a New Area of the Business
I’ve always had a very strong client base in webmasters and small business online and plan to continue in this area. Since I don’t specialize in a particular niche, but rather a style of writing, my work tends to fit into many areas of business and manufacturing. I’ve struggled with a direction to take to narrow my focus in that regard, and I think I’ve finally settled it. I’m going local. I’m going to build a new small site for my new local domain and work with local businesses as a means to expand and utilize my higher rate brackets.
I am fortunate to live in an affluent suburb of the fourth largest city in the United States. There are plenty of potential clients right out my back door and an astronaut living across the street. (I just wanted to throw that in.) I’m sure I can rustle up plenty of white papers, press releases and information-based materials for the local small businesses and then use that area to grow a new network of references and referrals. As far as how much I’ll do this school year, I’ll have the site up and some relevant sample white papers and such available on the site by Christmas break. Yes, it’s forever from now, but time flies with two kids and two jobs.
Start the Educational Resource Plan
I know a lot about education – I use advanced, often controversial, yet highly-effective teaching methods with at-risk kiddos. I’ve joked for years about writing some sort of educational resource to support my methods and make them available to others. I think it’s time to get serious. If I can build a collection of resources and research areas, I can semi-retire when I choose to. Along with the writing, I can teach workshops and in-services – this is an area I’ve been interested in forever, but this is the year I’m going to get organized.
The exact goal here is to come up with a business plan of sorts. I’ll hopefully set up a simple blog to start compiling resources and build an iota of exposure. I’ll also frame out the book by Spring Break. All writing, publishing and hoopla will probably wait until (way) after next summer.
I’m Going to Find a Way to Lose Weight
Jenn has a nice fitness series going on these days, but my problem isn’t with motivation necessarily, it has much more to do with the amount of time I have available. I don’t have any. At all. So I’m going to build in more opportunities for movement – perhaps a walk around the block with two boys on Big Wheels before bedtime or a few crunches before my, much later, bedtime. I’m not specific here yet because I don’t know how the new schedule will work out once the year kicks in and bedtimes shift.
One thing I will do is stop eating so much crap. For years crap foods (read: sugary junk food that is delicious but oh-not-so nutritious) have been my reward for existing in my chaos along with a source of energy for working late at night. Starting August 1, I’m going to stop eating sugary crap. My goal is to go from August 1 to May 31 without eating simple sugars like candy, cake, cookies, brownies, ice cream, etc. I might make an exception once a month or so to stay realistic. When I cut this junk out after Christmas last year, I lost 14 pounds. I started eating it again at Easter and gained back about half of that. If I can avoid it for 10 months, I’ll probably lose all kinds of weight, feel better, have more energy and be a better everything.
The Big Summary!
So here’s a summary of this over-worked-but-loving-it Mom’s goals. Would I do more if I didn’t teach? It’s a toss-up. Would I do more if I didn’t have kids? Absolutely. But then, I kind of like those little angels and I’m willing to move at this pace for the next 13 years. I’ll speed up again after that.
Goal #1. Stop scheduling writing work on Monday nights. I can now watch ONE television show a week in peace without a wave of guilt for not using those extra hours for something more productive.
Goal #2. I will build a small website for my local writing business by Christmas. I’ll write at least two free downloads to serve as samples by Christmas as well. By Spring Break I hope to use direct marketing to land my first local client. (Yes, it really will take that long on my time line.)
Goal #3. Create a plan for the Educational Resource. Create a rough outline to start fleshing out next year. This will be done by Spring Break. Start a blog with weekly updates by Thanksgiving.
Goal #4. Stop eating sugar, and don’t eat it until May 31. I’m doing this in a semi-desperate bid to lose the weight I’ve gained from lack of time and will power up to this point, primarily due to the freelancing mama schedule.
Goal #5. Teach my oldest to ride a bike. I expect this will happen after Christmas when Santa brings his little brother a bike to ride, too.
It’s not going to change the world, but after maintaining this schedule for about five years, I know that it’s realistic – even dramatic to get this much done in a year. The biggest change for this mom was the sacrifice of time and all that gets cut out. I’ll get that time back in a few years, but in the meantime, taking it slowly means less stress and more time with family while maintaining the business as well.