Monday, 25 January 2016

How to Make Plans and Stick to Them?

Are freelance jobs a good fit for scatterbrained, unorganized people, who have problems with motivating themselves to get out of bed before noon? For some strange reason I was thinking so...  and I was wrong. I'm afraid, that for those people the perfect  "occupation" is being a proud heir of a fortune. Whereas those, who want to be masters of their time but still have to earn a living, need to be able to plan and organize.

Presumably there are  very few people with a natural talent for being well-organized. Mere mortals have to prepare an action plan to evaluate, segregate and arrange individual steps for achieving their goals. 


Planning system doesn't have to be very sophisticated. I've never been good at making multi-color notes, drawing schedules on a paper bigger than me  or hanging a whole bunch of notes on a corkboard.  My method is quite simple and not very visionary. But it has one strong point - it works!*

*(at least for me)

It's based on a system of long term goals and short term goals and it can be created in a standard planner (even if my long-term goals refer to the much more distant future). At the end of such planner there is usually a place for some notes, which I use for setting long-term goals. And that's THE FIRST STEPLong term goals can be very general, like: "a stable source of income as a freelance illustrator" or "a healthier lifestyle". At first it may look like a wish list, letters to Santa Claus or a storytelling, but that's fine at this stage.

THE SECOND STEP is a closer defining of long-term goals and an attempt to transfer them into a sequence of short-term goals. It should help you to understand what your long term goals actually mean to you, for example does "a healthier lifestyle" means a better diet, more exercises, less stress or moving to a quieter place? Short-term goals should follow long-term goals and lead to achieving them. Let's say that to have "a stable source of income" you plan to establish cooperation with a few book publishers. Simplifying for the blog's purposes, the plan could look like this:

1 Creating a relevant portfolio.

2 Making a contact list of various publishers.

3 Preparing your own branding.

These actions can be loosely written on a separate page dedicated to a specific  month.

THE THIRD STEP involves dividing issues from the previous step into specific actions, estimating the time required to perform them and assigning them to specific days (and even hours) in a planner.

Regarding 1: Six children illustrations - one every two weeks. Estimated time - three months.

Regarding 2: Estimated time-a week (assuming, that you have other daily responsibilities).

Regarding 3: Building a website, sorting sample illustrations, preparing CV, resume and cover letters in a consistent style. Estimated time - two weeks.

That's how a vague idea of "having a stable income source" starts to take a clearer shape in a realistic time frame.


1. It's easier to forget about writing an email than about drawing something, so I mark  all the tasks related with contacting people with "!".

2. After completing a task I mark it with "+" . If the task hasn't been completed, then... well, it shall be crossed out and moved to another day. It may seem that I have quite long delays, but I don't because:

3. I make plans for only 5 days/week. However, if some of my tasks haven't been completed on initially planned time, I tend to work also on weekends. It could lead to workaholism, unless:

4. I reserve some time for relaxing activities, like "10.00pm.-Midnight - reading a book" or Saturday 10.00am.-1.00pm.-a long walk + lunch in the park.

5. It's a good practice to have your planner/notebook with you. All the ideas for drawings can be written down in it as soon as they appear. From time to time (once every 3-4 months) I browse through these ideas to check, if they still seem so splendid as when I was writing them down.

Formulating a plan is one thing. The other thing is motivation to execute it. It would be an extremely long article, so MOTIVATORS HELIPING IN EXECUTING YOUR PLANS will be described later on this week.

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