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Freelance Writing: Tips to Help You Manage Your Time Better

Updated on February 6, 2013
Time is money.
Time is money. | Source

Juggling all of your tasks as a writer really takes some serious manuvering. Running a freelance writing business requires that you: keep track of your accounts and expenses, promote your business, network, scout for new writing projects, edit, research and of course...write. And let's face it, there are those terrible days when you have so much to do that you don't even know how or where to begin. What's more is, there are those other days when you feel so unproductive, and it seems that you spend an entire day doing everything and nothing all at the same time. Ever felt this way?

Today, I've decided to help myself and other fellow wordsmiths out there by pulling together a few very helpful time management tips. Writers cannot get enough time management tips because we do everything for our business. Structuring how time is utilized daily so the most leverage possible is gained, lowers stress levels which is important to sustaining good health. Feeling constantly frazzled, pressured and disorganized is counterproductive.

Carol Tice's One Client Per Day Rule

Carol Tice, author of the "Make a Living Writing...Practical Help For Hungry Writers" blog, advises focusing on one client for each day. Instead of trying to complete several projects for different clients, only do one at a time. This cuts down on the stress factor significantly and surprisingly, you will find that you've gotten more done by the day's end. "It makes me a little nervous that nothing is happening on the other assignments that day. But as projects get turned in, the remaining assignments feel more doable," she says.

"Declutter Your Headspace," says Clay Collins

There are certain things that we agree to do when we'd much rather not do them at all and as a result, productivity suffers tremendously. We do them not because we thoroughly enjoy the activities, but only out of sheer obligation typically with the promise of some greater benefit later on down the line. Clay Collins points out that doing what we hate simply out of feeling like we have to, sucks up a lot of our time, which could be spent doing something for the betterment of our own lives and families. In other words, learn to say "No." The crux of the issue, however can be found in deciding what is necessary to actually do. "The problem is that most people are very bad at differentiating between these very real non-negotiables and fictional non-negotiables," Collins observes. No matter what time management structure you use as a freelance writer, mental clutter is sure to sabotage your efforts. Any positive benefit resulting from its establishment will be short-lived.

Planning Your Day: "The List"

This is actually something I do with religious tenacity, and it really does help quite a bit, if you have the discipline to stick to "The List." However, all you have to do is simply make a list of what you plan to get done for that particular day and check each item off as you go. Items that are most important get a star and the number one next to it, which places it in the highest priority level. While the starred items MUST get completed, other items receive a number 2, 3 and so on. When you rank what you have to do by level of importance, the clouds lift, bringing organization to the work day. Some writers even go a step further by jotting down a specific time for each task. Any items left over at the end of the day, all presumably of low priority, are automatically moved up to number one priority the following day.

If you are really being diligent, include everything, social networking, writing tasks, errands, lunch, dinner prep and important phone calls so that all time is accounted for. Be sure to pencil in breaks for yourself. They need not be long ones, but it is important to give your eyes and hands a rest. Go outside, make a restroom run, stretch.

Plugging The Leaks

Do you know where most of your time goes? It is a very good idea to take some time to monitor what you are doing and the amount of tme you spend doing it. This way, you are able to zap those excessive time drainers like browsing the internet, unexpected phone calls, social networking gone wild, watching television, breaks that last for hours and so on. Nothing is wrong with doing any of these things, but when you are a freelance writer who needs to make a living, sticking to a schedule and plan is quite essential. Once you become aware of those time gobblers, you are encouraged to make changes in how you do thngs throughout the day. You will pay more attention to what you tend to do with time.

Sources Cited:

"How I Became a More Productive Writer By Doing This One, Simple Thing," by Carol Tice

"Quitting Things and Flakiness: The #1 Productivity Anti-Hack" by Clay Collins

Video:Tim Ferriss - The 4-Hour Workweek


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    • AuniceReed profile image

      Aunice Yvonne Reed 5 years ago from Southern California

      Hi SidKemp, thanks for stopping by to read. Yes, I agree about Clay Collins. It was a very thoughtful blog post. It really makes you stop and examine some things about your life.

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 5 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Hi Aunice - Thank you - all very useful stuff, and nicely written. I really appreciated the link to Clay Collins - he's someone worth knowing about!

    • AuniceReed profile image

      Aunice Yvonne Reed 5 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks a lot Rochelle, I hope you find the tips useful. I have just started the one client per day rule and it left me feeling a bit more organized and less stressed.

    • Rochelle Callahan profile image

      Rochelle Callahan 5 years ago from Garibaldi, Oregon

      Thank you so much for the tips! Very well written and useful :) I'm definitely going to be trying these!!