Last Sunday I tweeted the subject phrase – “If You Are Ready You Don’t Have to Get Ready” – and it seemed to resonate with several of my twitter followers. I know it resonated with me when it was first told to me by the “Empowerment Diva” Crystal A. Wright. How many times have you had a friend stop by and you wished you’d straightened up the house when you had time earlier in the day? How many times have you been invited to an event and you realized your perfect outfit needed dry cleaning? I been all of those situations more times than I care to remember. 😐

How many times have you been called for a same-day job and you realized your brushes and kit still needed to be cleaned and organized?

As freelancers we do not have the luxury of taking time for granted. If you are just entering the freelance world you are getting used to the fact that you think you know, but you do not really know, when your days off are going to be. And trust me it only becomes even more crucial as you progress in your career and you start traveling for work, etc. This means that you need to learn to be very efficient with your time. This does not mean never having downtime, but this means having everything in order so that you can really enjoy your downtime and know that you are ready to go when the next thing comes up. Here are some things that help me stay ready so I don’t have to get ready;

Wake up everyday like you have a job.
What I mean is this; unless you have decided to purposely take a day off – which is of course a legitimate option particularly if work-life is going fine (other than writing this, today is a day off for me) – you need to act like a working professional everyday: Get up, get dressed, and be ready to go. Constantly sleeping in or laying around in your PJs is pretty much screaming to the Universe “I Am Not Ready”.

– Clean your brushes & re-organize your kit immediately after every job.
If someone called you and offered you a job shooting a name talent for a national magazine but you had to get to the location ASAP – preferably within an hour – could you do it? That exact scenario just happened to me a few months ago and yes, I was ready and I did the job. I know you’re tired after a long day but before you completely unwind just go ahead and do it.

– Do laundry, clean the house, do filing, get the car washed, etc.
I never leave this to chance anymore. I have learned this one the hard way too many times (manys the time I’ve had to hit the 24-hour laundromat. Not fun.). You look at your schedule, you think you have 4 days in a row off. You decide to chill the first day and then BAM! someone calls with a job for the rest of the week. Now you have to scramble like a maniac to “get ready” and invariably certain things will not get done. Spare yourself this scenario by just never assuming you are going to have extended days off.

– Return those emails and phone calls.
When you are working and/or traveling it really can be challenging to keep up with the constant input and naturally you will start to prioritize what communications need to be returned immediately and which ones can wait. You do not, however, want to wait indefinitely and/or not return calls/emails at all. That’s just rude.

– Keep up your promotions.
A lot of times when we are busy we do not do anything to promote ourselves and then when things slow down we are crying and wondering why no one is calling. This absolutely had to be one of the most difficult lessons for me to fully grasp but it is also one of the most true: effective promotion is constant promotion. Promoting every now and then or “when you get around to it” does not get it done.

– Now… Chillax
Nowadays I am so used to my freelancers lifestyle that I cannot fully relax until I know I have all my ducks in a row. I think a lot people get into the fantasy that being creative is all spontaneity and living a structureless, free-wheeling life. That may be true for folks hanging out in cafes calling themselves “artistes”, but I find that to actually work and make a living as a creative it takes a certain amount of self-discipline.

I also find that sitting with a friend at a cafe, shopping, or going out to dinner is all much more enjoyable once you know all your work is done and you Are Ready.

Thanks as always to Crystal A. Wright for being an inspirational catalyst early in my career!

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