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I’m a big fan of the FlyLady. Her name is Marla Cilley, and she has an approach to getting organized that makes a lot of sense. She is very much about how to do housework better, but much of her philosophy makes sense for freelancers. And, if you work at home, you know how much the condition of the house can take up valuable space in your brain. Get it under control, and you’ll have more room for creative and productive pursuits.

The basic idea is this: you can do anything for 15 minutes. Set your timer for 15 minutes and work on whatever it is you need to do: running the sweeper, putting the dishes away, preparing invoices, working on a draft of a new story – whatever. Then, you can take a break.

Another part of her program is that you start the day by getting dressed to the shoes. None of this freelancer-in-pajama stuff! And you know what? It makes a difference. I get a shower, get dressed, and am ready to go by 7:00 am at the latest. There is some mental cue to being ready to go that makes a difference, at least for me.

She also has a whole pre-Christmas “cruise” for getting through the holidays, and that has made Christmas so much easier! I have found that December is a really busy time for work because many clients are trying to get their freelance budgets used before the end of the year. At the same time, I am trying to get a house decorated, presents wrapped, and dinner planned for 15 of my in-laws without throwing a cookie-fuelled hissy fit. And you know what? I can do it.

After I started following the FlyLady system, years ago, I found that my productivity went up and my house got organized with very little effort. For example, I still procrastinate, but instead of goofing off for an entire hour, I only goof off for 45 minutes because I am working for 15! Some days, that’s the best I can do, but that way, I can make progress on even my most distracted, blocked writing day.

There are aspects of the FlyLady that can be annoying: once you sign up, you’ll get tons of testimonial emails from homeschooling military mothers of six special-needs children whose lives have been changed by the FlyLady water bottle. (And I wish I were exaggerating, but really, I’m not.) You can delete those emails without reading them. You don’t have to buy the waterbottles, or the rags, or the scrubbers. But I will tell you this: the FlyLady timer is the best timer I’ve ever owned, and my family really does use the calendar.  Go figure.

If you are a freelancer looking to get organized, trying to find a way to manage the house as well as the home office, check her out. The FlyLady has made a huge difference for my career and my sanity, and she may be able to help you, too.