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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Five Ways to Work While You're Not Really Working

Confused by the title of this post? Let me explain. I've been self-employed long enough to know that there's working...and then there's working. The latter means that I'm chained to the computer. I don't check email. I don't answer the phone. I don't log in to Facebook. I just pound out the words on the keyboard and get as much done as quickly as I can.

However, most of my work time is the former...when I'm working, yes, but not with that intensity. Yeah, I'm working, but I break up the time with other things. I check my email. I read forums. I check my Amazon ranking. I throw in a load of laundry and stop downstairs to say hi to my kiddos. I take a lunch break. I screw around.

But there's a third category of "work," too, which I call WWYNRW, or Working When You're Not Really Working. WWYNRW is what I call it when I watch reruns of America's Next Top Model or Chopped with my laptop on my lap. While WWYNRW isn't actual "work time," I use it to do things I might not have time for during my work hours--and that makes those work hours more productive. Here are five things I do during WWYNRW time:

1. Scout for reprint markets. I make between $5,000 and $10,000 a year selling reprints to regional publicitions, specialty magazines, foreign publications, and other markets. The majority of them I find through Google; I then send a brief LOI to the relevant editor. A five-minute investment may pay off with a new reprint market.

2. Touch base with my regulars. I'll scan through my email, and send a "just checking in" note to editors I haven't worked with in a few months. I just did this last week and sold a reprint for $200, plus have the promise of more work from several other clients.

3. Search on Medline for the latest journal articles on a specific topic--say, sleep and health. I did this several days ago and incorporated new research into a query, which I wrote the next morning. It's already been assigned.

4. Send "FU" (that's for Follow-Up, not what you're thinking!) emails on queries I haven't had a response on, giving editors a week or two to reply...and make a note of where to resub, or resubmit the query next. Then I'm ready to strike if the editor doesn't respond.

5. Brainstorm blog posts. I don't like to burn worktime to come up with and write blog posts, so I do most of my social networking stuff in front of the TV...or while at the pool. In fact, I came up with this post idea while watching my son do cannonballs off of the diving board!

What about you? Do you work, work, and WWYNRW?