Life Cheats for Freelance Writers

Life cheats, shortcuts, smarty-pants ideas: whatever you want to call them, they can help freelance writers maximize work time so we can maximize play time.

If you're anything like me, it's next to impossible to tear yourself away from the computer at the end of the day (even with a headache, frustration and mild starvation).

Do you cut corners?

I don't know about you, but I cheat. That way I buy more time working and spend (in my mind, waste) less time doing stuff that isn't fun. See, for me, there are three distinct categories for everything I do:
  • work
  • play
  • dumb crap that wastes my time
That's how I see everything - so if it's not work or play, I don't want to do it. And I figure if I can play GTA San Andreas (I don't like GTA IV) and hit a couple buttons to cheat my way to $250K and a full arsenal of weapons, I ought to be able to play that way for real (minus the rocket launchers and Tek 9s, of course).

Cutting corners isn't for work - it's to cut time from the icky, boring crap we all have to do (like cooking, cleaning and errands).

I'd love to hear what you all do to cut corners and make things simpler - here's what I do.

Cooking Cheats

I've learned that I can't live on Lucky Charms and coffee, and neither can my husband.  That means occasionally one of us has to cook - which sucks time from work and play.  The less time I spend preparing food to cook, the faster the process goes.  So I cheat.

When I get home from the grocery store with food, I spend a half-hour putting it away.  I take a few extra minutes to put it away so it's convenient later, though:

Bought a big bag o' chicken wings (I don't eat them, but David does).  Dumped some into a huge Ziploc, poured some Texas Pete over them and stuck them in the freezer.  Two hours before David gets home, I take them out of the freezer so they're marinating while they thaw.  He calls to tell me he's on his way home, I turn on the oven and cover the baking sheet in foil (that way I don't have to scrub it before I jam it into the dishwasher after they're done).  The timer goes off when the oven's ready, dump 'em on the baking sheet and wait.

Same goes for steaks and other chickens, which are marinated and labeled in freezer bags ("T-bone, 20 Dec, Lawry's Steak & Chop Marinade").

The five minutes I spend bagging up and freezing that stuff saves me a couple hours each week.

Cleaning Cheats

I don't want to clean.  Ever.  But I hate a messy house - so I stick with prevention here.  Dirty dish?  Straight to the dishwasher.  Dirty clothes?  Right in the hamper.

Dusting and vacuuming aren't as easy to avoid, and I haven't come up with a cheat for those yet (but I'm open to suggestions).

Errand Cheats

Pay your bills from your phone when you're stuck away from work.  Answer personal emails and play on Facebook from your phone when you can't be working because you're somewhere else (obviously not if you're driving).

Set your mortgage or rent to come right out of your bank account (or, better, out of your paycheck if you can create allotments).  If you can do that with your other bills, do it!

What do you do to save time so you can write more, earn more and play more?


Follow me on Twitter, join me on Facebook or subscribe to this blog via e-mail.

© Angie Papple Johnston 2011. Don't steal from me or I'll come getcha. Really... I've got that kind of time.

"Trying to Win" image courtesy of Lusi at