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Business Admin for New Freelance Editors, Part 3: How do I track my work-life balance and continuing professional development?

29 Nov 2021 7:45 PM | Maya Berger (Administrator)

In Part 3 of this series for new freelance editors, we’ll look at recording and analyzing the personal side of your business: tracking your work-life balance and your continuing professional development (CPD) activities.

Welcome to the rewarding world of freelance editing!

With a little organization and planning, you can get as much satisfaction from quoting, invoicing, recording your expenses, analyzing your marketing efforts, and tracking your professional development as you do from editing or 

A female-presenting person sitting up in bed on a Macbook laptop. The room is dark, indicating that it is nighttime, with the only light coming from the laptop.

Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

How can business admin help me maintain a good work-life balance?

When you’re self-employed, you have the luxury of choosing your own working hours, but it’s amazing how quickly that sense of freedom can morph into pressure to work on evenings and weekends “just to get ahead for next week” or “just to catch up on some admin.” I’m as guilty of this as the next freelancer, and my best defense against overworking is – you guessed it – data.
My “record and analyze” mantra means that I note every day off I give myself (whether they’re statutory holidays or not), and I keep track of all the paid and unpaid hours that I spend on editorial, admin, marketing, training, networking and other work-related activities. There’s nothing like a visual representation of my working hours piling up to force me into taking some downtime. I use the free version of Toggl Track to record the time I spend on each activity, but there are tons of digital tracking options out there (as well as good old pen and paper). Pick the one that works for you, and soon tracking your working time will be second nature to you.

How can I track my CPD as a freelance editor?

Some activities can blur the line between business and pleasure, and for many editors CPD falls into this category. As much fun as a course, a webinar, a networking event or an editing-related blog post can be, when we’re engaging with them we’re not switched off from work, and we’re constantly thinking about how to apply what we learn to our editorial businesses.

Four people are seated round a white table in a conference room taking notes on laptops and on paper. A fifth person stands at a wall near the head of the table pointing to sticky notes on the wall.

Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

That’s why it’s worth tracking the time and money you spend on CPD, and it’s important to choose your CPD activities as mindfully as you choose the projects you work on. Ideally, your CPD activities will be relevant to the work you’re doing already or the kind of work you intend to do – if they’re not, your CPD data can help you cut back on the learning activities that are more fun than fundamental to your business.

And when you have a record of the time and money you spend on CPD activities that are core to your editing work, you can see the effects they have on your business in real time. If you track your CPD activities data alongside your editing speed and your project rates, you can see if a particular course has increased your words-per-hour speed or given you the confidence to negotiate higher project fees. Seeing the impact of your business decisions on your bottom line or the quality of your work can be a huge motivational boost, so I recommend getting into the habit from the beginning of your career!

Bottom line: Business data helps you be your own dream boss

As freelancers, we have to be our own bosses, and that includes keeping ourselves from burning out and keeping our CPD activities in line with our business practices and goals. For more on how to manage yourself as a self-employed editorial professional, check out my article “How to Be Your Own Boss as a Freelancer.”

A mug on a wooden surface with a computer keyboard out of focus in the foreground. The mug says, "World's Best Boss."

Photo by Pablo Varela on Unsplash

Without solid data to guide your decision-making, you only have guesswork to rely on when planning next month’s workload or choosing which courses or conferences to invest in. You might end up agreeing to a client's impossible deadlines or overlooking the training that will benefit you the most. Recording and analyzing your working hours and CPD activities will help you run your editorial businesses strategically and with confidence.

More articles in this series

Check out Part 1, which addresses the basics of business admin

  • what it includes,
  • why it’s crucial for the health of your business, and
  • how to start taking control of it.

Check out Part 2, which addresses the “making money” aspects of business admin:

  • setting and enforcing fair and data-supported rates,
  • quoting with confidence, and
  • tracking your income.

Check out Part 4, which addresses tracking the time and money you invest in your business:

  • the business expenses you declare at tax time, and
  • your marketing activities.

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