As you may already know, there is a lot more to the business of freelance writing than the “simple” act of writing. This also applies to just about any kind of work-at-home career and as a result, it can be difficult to keep track of all the things that you need to do. I speak from the perspective of a freelance writer, but it’s exactly the same for people who sell things on eBay or make their living through affiliate marketing. For freelancers, you’ve got to keep track of all the projects you have on the go, you have to follow-up with clients regarding payment, and you have to make sure that you send out those invoices on time.
Trying to keep track of all those clients, projects, and deadlines can make anyone’s head spin. You really shouldn’t punish yourself and rely simply on your memory, because you’re human and you’ll inevitably forget something. That’s where a simple to-do list can come into play, but what I’m arguing today is that you shouldn’t keep just a single to-do list; you should maintain multiple to-do lists.
Just as I keep redundant copies of most of my data (on my laptop, backed up on a network storage drive, backed up on blank DVD-Rs, etc.), I maintain redundant to-do lists as well. While they may appear to be a waste of time to some, to-do lists are absolutely imperative to my success.
1. Lost One? No Problem
You keep backup copies of most of your important documents, so why should your to-do list be any exception? If you rely on a single piece of paper at the side of your desk and it accidentally falls in the trash, you may be completely lost as to all the projects that you have on the go. Speaking for myself, I have the physical to-do list on a pad of paper, but I also keep a copy in my iGoogle (there’s a widget for that) and my Windows Mobile smartphone. If any one of these happen to go awry, I can create a new one based on the other copies.
2. Reminders on the Go
Believe it or not, I’m not always at my desk. Even so, for better or for worse, I almost always have work on my mind in some form or another. For example, I went for a haircut yesterday and the place was pretty busy. I was told it was going to be about a 20-30 minute wait. Instead of sitting around reading Time Magazine, I whipped out my phone, checked on my to-do list, booted up the text editor, and started working on an article that is due soon. Yes, you can actually be productive on the go.
Two Sides to Any Coin
Naturally, things are not all peachy-keen when it comes to keeping redundant to-do lists. There are some inherent pitfalls to this practice too and I’ll get to those in a future post. For now, keep organized and stay on track with well-designed to-do lists.