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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?


  1. Oooh, I do this nearly every day! I WWYNRW in the evenings, and my partner does too. We have a tendency to have bad boundaries about work/down time (maybe b/c we're pretty young, I'm self-employed and he works at a start-up, both of which encourage a lack of boundaries) so we have our laptops out all evening, reading email, doing little things for work, doing light editing work etc. I also tend to use WWYNRW time to scan new book release lists/catalogs to find new reviews to pitch or themes in upcoming releases to cover too.

  2. Kelly, Great post! What kind of words do you google for parenting articles? I'm published in regional parenting mags but never thought to find other parenting markets.

    Love this blog...And a big thank you!

  3. Brittany, I've actually IMed my husband from the same room, so I get it, believe me! Sounds like a good use of your time as long as it doesn't take over your life. :)

    Jan, have you checked out "Parenting Publications of America"? It has a website with several hundred member magazines. Also, pretty much every decent-sized city has a regional parenting magazine, so use the city's name and "local parenting magazine." I also sell a lot of reprints to regional bridal magazines and some regional health/fitness publications, again by trolling around for possibilities. Hope this helps! :)


  4. Hi Kelly,
    Do you use contracts for your reprints, especially for foreign publications?

  5. Hi, Heidi--
    No, I don't use contracts; I just send an email that confirms the client is buying one-time rights to the piece for a certain amount of money. In rare cases (typically US markets) the client has a contract it wants me to sign, but usually the email is sufficient.

    Hope this helps!

  6. Yes! Thanks so much for always being so helpful!

  7. You're welcome, Heidi. As my five-year-old would say, "that's how I roll." :)