I don’t know where you fall on the spectrum between order and chaos, but I’ll bet that you’re striving for more order in your life… especially in your work.
Time management… productivity… focus…
These things play a big role in success. But if you feel like everything in your business should be neat and orderly, chances are you’re spending more time feeling frustrated and discouraged than you need to.
I’m going to make the case today for a little bit of chaos in your life. I’m not saying you should be ruled by spontaneity and throw planning out the window… just that some chaos can actually help you be more balanced and creative. More energized too. And hopefully less stressed.
So how does the productive chaos I’m describing work?
Well, it starts with recognizing you can’t plan for everything. If you could, then you’d be in absolute control. If you’re a freelance digital copywriter, that means you work with clients, and having clients means not everything is in your control.
Also — again, I’m just betting here — you probably don’t always feel a hundred percent in control of yourself. Most of us have times when we’re torn between what we think we should do and what we want to do.
Here are a few tips for letting chaos in, in a way that will work in your favor.
Tip #1: Don’t Plan Every Minute
If you use time blocking as a scheduling strategy, the temptation is to schedule every block of time in a day, or even in the week.
That effort toward order can lead to frustration.
What happens if something comes up? Or if something takes longer than you expect? Or if you just don’t want to do something?
It only takes one block of time going wrong and you have to rework your whole schedule for the day or week… which also takes time.
Add a little chaos by including blank blocks on your calendar. These blocks can be for things that come up unexpectedly, to wrap up something that took longer than planned, to do something fun, or to do nothing at all.
That little bit of “chaos” time each week can reduce stress and make your order feel more… orderly.
Tip #2: Let Your Priorities Guide You
One of the problems with being too rigid in your scheduling is that when something does come up, even when it’s important, it can feel like you’re “not allowed” to say yes to it because you’ve already planned your time.
Give some thoughts to your priorities. Revisit your “why” to remind yourself what’s really important. And then when unexpected opportunities or demands come up that fit within those priorities, agree with yourself ahead of time that you’ll rework your plans to accommodate them.
For example, if part of your “why” is that you want to earn a freelance income so you can spend more time with your kids, and the school has a snow day, taking part of that day off to build a snowman aligns with your priorities… so do that guilt free.
Tip #3: You Might Be Chaotically Productiv
Some folks don’t work well within a strictly planned schedule. But society values incremental improvements, consistent action, and orderly planning. Those things work, and so it makes sense that they’re valued. But if they don’t work for you, it can leave you feeling like you’re failing. And that may not be the case at all.
You may just be more productive with a chaotic approach. Of course, you don’t want to miss deadlines or meetings, so it’s not wise to embrace full chaos.
But, if you put only your hard deadlines on your calendar, and then spend time each day working on what you want to work on in that moment, you may find that you are able to get more done, and enjoy doing it more too… without missing any deadlines or meetings.
Whether you could use a little more chaos in your life or a lot more, it’s important to give your schedule a little breathing room. Without it, it only takes one unexpected thing to throw you into a tailspin… and that’s the kind of chaos we want to avoid.
The Reality Blog Challenge Is Under Way!
The Digital Copywriter community — including you — is going to vote to choose its next Reality Blogger in just a few weeks.
Right now, you have the chance to get to know each of our four finalists.
This week, they all shared their goals for the coming year.
Jennifer Ayling shares her plans to build multiple income streams for her writing business in the coming year. See how she’s broken her goal down to focus on different opportunities as the year progresses.
EG Orren has built a financially successful writing business that doesn’t feed her soul. See what she’s got planned to maintain her success while pivoting her business to work with people and projects she’s truly excited about.
Maia Richardson has her dream business firmly in mind, and has put together a MAGIC plan to get her from where she is to where she wants to be. See if her magic formula will work for you, too.
Tory Tredway wants to give his wife the freedom to retire, while still maintaining his own freedom through the writer’s life. He has clear financial goals and quarterly milestones to replace her income. See his full plan and use it to inspire your own.
3 Things You Might Enjoy
If the idea of chaotic productivity strikes a chord with you, you can read more about it here.
A beautiful read on music, mystery, and the value of not knowing things.
When talking about UX, occasionally I dig into the dangers of over-optimization. So I found this read on how data and the ability to optimize for money is watering down many things.
That’s all for now. Enjoy your weekend!