We’ve all had those days where all we want to do is work on our own projects. Maybe there are deadlines piling up, but there’s nothing in our stack of paying work that appeals — and there is something very interesting happening with a project that we don’t actually stand to make money on anytime soon. Those days leave us with a dilemma. Do we force ourselves to buckle down and get to work on something that we really don’t care for or do we spend time on something much more fun, but that won’t pay the bills?
No Right Answer
Unless you’re right up against a deadline, there really isn’t a right answer in this sort of situation. When we’re talking about an article or a project that is due tomorrow, it’s usually best to get that done and in — not just because it’s important to make sure that the bills get paid but because you have to maintain your reputation as a freelancers and fulfill your contracts.
But if you aren’t staring a deadline in the face, you can probably afford to be flexible. Choosing to work on something more appealing than whatever you’ve scheduled for the day may mean being a little rushed when you are actually closer to a deadline, but it’s certainly not out of the question. It may actually be beneficial: working on what appeals to you can help avoid burnout and keep those creative juices pumping, which in turn helps you complete other projects.
Using Your Flexibility
If you’ve got a particularly appealing project that you’d like to work on, it may be worth considering it as a way to get your more run-of-the-mill work done. I’ve been known to use fun projects as rewards, telling myself that if I can get a certain number of words written on the less-fun stuff on my work, I’ll let myself ‘play’ and work on the project that really has me excited for the rest of the day. More often than not, I can find ways to speed things up so that I accomplish at least some of the stuff that will pay my bills while still getting some time for other projects.
It’s a compromise, of course, but this sort of compromise has gotten me through plenty of client work, as well as projects like ebooks that had me a lot more excited. Of course, I’ve also pushed things back to the absolute last minute of a deadline: the compromise approach is easier to manage, but when I absolutely can’t buckle down on whatever’s on the official agenda, I’ve realized that my work will be sub-par at best and it will take forever (or at least feel like it). In those cases, it’s better to switch to something more entertaining and come back when I’m fresh and actually have a little more energy to spend.
How do you handle these situations? When is it okay to ignore your planned work and focus on something more fun?