All freelance work comes in spurts and overall seasons. Having been a relentless tracker of things for quite some time, I've been able to chart how my overall work hours change throughout the year.
Much of my past freelance work has involved portrait and wedding photography (which is a blast, by the way), and so I follow the season of people getting married and having fun outside--usually spring-summer-fall. This means that the second half of each year is filled with more activity than the beginning. See all those spikes about 12 weeks in? That's when spring hits!
So because I've tracked my work it, I'm more aware of it and can predict when I'm going to need a little extra assistance or have less time for certain things.
Here's how my season flows.
I focus on retooling things that get neglected--fixing up websites, smoothing out processes, developing internal documents, reaching out for new relationships, getting my equipment checked, taxes, and all those other invisible and "boring" things that have to do with running a business effectively. I write, collage, and work with textiles a lot during this time, since very few people are asking me to shoot in the dead of winter (unless it involves killer beautiful snowfall).
Once the weather starts to warm up and I have longer days, more outdoor cyanotype printing happens regularly. My focus is marketing, building relationships, and lining up work that is energizing and exciting. I stock up on supplies and get myself in tip top shape, because around the corner comes a season where it's head-down and nose-to-the-grindstone.
Full-on ACTION mode, people. It's peak sun, which makes for easy outdoor cyanotype printing and the ideal time to run workshops and share the joy of making. And even though it's warm out, I start looking towards the holidays ahead. Lots of people get married during the summer (and I love to be there), and I'm fully immersed in collaborating with people and nature. This is the time of exciting output and energy.
This may seem counterintuitive, but fall is when I'm finishing things up and planning the coming year. As early as September I begin looking at what's worked, what needs changing, and what obligations I already have and shape how I'd like things to go. This is the push for the last few outdoor portraits and weddings before the weather gets too cold, and I can still print my cyanotypes effectively as long as I have a day without rain. It's a lovely time of reflection and adjustment.
DAILY HABITS MATTER MOST
But here's the thing: although my focus changes throughout the year. I never stop writing or making. I've learned that a lot more gets accomplished when you make a small daily habit out of something than if you try to block off hours and hours every so often.
And so, even though I have to shape the overall rhythm of work according to the season, my daily rhythm and commitments remain mostly the same; if I can check off my writing and artmaking for the day as a habit accomplished, then I know that my day has been focused well.