The Open Desk

Margie Beilharz

Freelance editor and writer in science, environment, education, health

Reflections not resolutions

Pot plant
An office needs a plant

Happy New Year and all the best for a great 2018.

Rather than coming up with New Year’s resolutions – which we all know are very hard to keep – I’m taking the opportunity of the holiday break to reflect on what I can do to achieve my professional goals in 2018.

In short, I want to maintain (or enhance) my freelancing business. I’m not after more work  – I have a nice mix of regular clients and new ones that generally lets me keep the work flowing without having too many crazy busy weeks – but could focus on jobs that are more interesting, better paying or going in directions I want to develop.

So here are some of my ideas for a great start to 2018.

Getting organised

I’m taking advantage of the downtime to clean out my mailbox, for example:

  • unsubscribing from newsletters or notifications I never get around to reading
  • setting up rules/filters to direct emails out of my inbox to folders where I can check them when it suits me (I have these for travel bargains, science stories, WordPress emails, social media notifications)
  • labelling as junk and/or blocking spam emails that are still getting through, and clearing out trash and junk folders.

There are some more technical clean-up tips for Mac Mail here.

A few other practical things I’m going to do to start 2018 in ship-shape fashion include:

  • spring-cleaning my desk and office space – among other things, this will give me space for the office pot plant I got for Christmas
  • moving a noticeboard that is currently in our hallway and not really being used to beside my desk to help me track jobs – the Sean Connery poster (not mine) will have to go 🙂
  • clearing out space on my computer hard drive, especially the various duplicate files, and removing or updating old add-ins and apps
  • updating my podcast list – covering both professional and leisure interests.

Professional and business development

I generally get my freelance editing and writing jobs offered to me, either by regular clients or new ones to whom I may have been recommended and may ask for a quote.

In that sense, it’s a waiting game compared with pitching articles as a freelance writer, for example. So my view is that I maximise my chance of keeping up a good flow of work by being visible. To that end, I will:

  • carry on – it’s working pretty well
  • keep up my roles at Editors Victoria – both newsletter editor (paid) and communications officer (voluntary). This involvement keeps me up-to-date with the profession and other Victorian editors, and I can help the society settle into being a branch of the national body, IPEd
  • consider refreshing my website with a new WordPress theme (and while I’m about it, reorganising my portfolio pages)
  • perhaps upgrade to a WordPress business account which would allow me to play around more with it and, importantly, install the Yoast plug-in to improve my site’s SEO (search engine optimisation) – inspired by Kate Toon’s The recipe for SEO success podcast
  • keep an eye on training courses and resources (at Editors Victoria and elsewhere) – could this be the year I finally get a handle on macros in Word?
  • be more consistent and strategic with blogging (hello!) and social media.

I have one particular goal for 2018 that’s a new focus: to write more.  And timing it nicely to start on 1 January, I have signed up for the Australian Writers Centre 30-day writing bootcamp. Day 2 task is to write 500 words. Job done!




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