5 Quick & Easy Time Management Tips For Freelance Writers

time management tips

How productive are you?

I have a feeling most of us thought about this question, remembered all the stuff we got done yesterday and said, “Heck yeah, I’m good in this department.”

That’s great. Good on ya.

Productivity is so necessary for life. Without it, we’d all be lying in bed fighting over whose turn it is to check the food traps.

But – and yes, there is a big but…

Productivity is no good if it is not focused.

Sure, we can all do stuff, and a lot of it. But doing stuff that aligns with everything else we’re doing to get to a certain point that we’re aiming for … Well, that’s a bit different.

That requires thought, focus and effort, and these vital things are achieved through a little something known as time management.

If you’re looking to break through a productivity plateau and supercharge your work output, check out these ideas.

Have A Goal

The biggest difference between time management and general productivity is this very thing.

We all have those incredibly productive days where we write half a blog post, research a bit for another article, clean the kitchen, mop the floor, remember to feed the dog, post something on social media, make a to-do list for tomorrow and come up with a headline for yet another blog post.

That’s great, and all those things are necessary, but when it comes to work, and more particularly, working towards something specific, I hate to break it to ya, but… that’s just a waste of a day.

Time management starts with a goal:

  • Want to write 5 blog posts a week?
  • Need to create a website?
  • Thinking about publishing an e-book?
  • Aiming to get more B2B clients?

You need to be specific about what your main goal is. Where are you planning on going with your writing?

Sure, you can have other goals too, but one big aim is necessary for the next point, which is …

Create a Schedule

I know, I know. You’re tired of seeing these words. Schedule schmedule.

The thing is, though, schedules play a rather important role in your time management. And as good time management is critical to your success, well, it goes without saying that having a schedule is necessary. (Unless you have the discipline of a ninja and the memory of an elephant. Then you are excused from this discussion.)

The problem with schedules is that they’re a bit like that math teacher we all had in high school. You know the one. The grey lady who seemed impossibly old, was quite intimidating, and deathly boring in the classroom.

Schedules can feel like that. Dated. Scary. Limited.

If you’re freaked out at the thought, fear not — in keeping with the theme, I have a mathematical equation to solve the problem.

Hours available ÷ work to be done = progress.

Open up a spreadsheet, map your days out by the hour (working hours), dab the work around until you’re sure you have everything down, and hey presto! You now have a schedule.

I can guarantee this will assist hugely with managing your time, as long as you …

Stick To The Schedule

Yes, I can see you rolling your eyes. We’re all adults here, is likely what you’re thinking. We can follow schedules.

Unfortunately, though, this is the step where many of us stray.

Schedules need motivation. They only work if you do. There’s no magic here, folks.

Much like a diet, the schedule is only effective if you follow it consistently. If you want your freelancing abs to show, you need to stick to it. Every. Single. Day.

To make this more achievable, it’s wise to pencil in some non-work, but still necessary things. Lunch time, for example. Don’t get so carried away cataloging your work that you forget to make time to eat.

Plan for some breaks, too. 10 minutes here or there, get up, make tea, water the plants, stretch your legs and get your face away from the screen.

Then get back to it.

Stick with it, create a habit, and you’ll start to reap the rewards.

Remove Clocks From Your Office

This probably sounds really random and a bit counter-intuitive, given that you’re following a shiny new hourly schedule.

But let me explain.

There is a strange phenomenon that occurs when one is on some sort of time constraint. Clocks, watches, and hourglasses develop a peculiar magnetic power that draws our eyes to them, and away from our work. They also, inexplicably, slow time down noticeably.

In all seriousness though, if your clock is visible, you’ll find yourself peeking at it more often than you should, especially when you’re a bit short on motivation. Checking up every once and a while is fine, but too many sneak glances will lead to frustration, impatience, and ultimately kill your creativity.

Rather, set an alarm at the intervals on your schedule, free your mind to go crazy on the page and wait for the alarm to ring.

You’ll find that removing the metaphorical ticking time bomb gives you the freedom to write uninhibited.

Schedule Your Social Media Posts In Advance

If you maintain an active business presence on social media, this one is for you. Social media plays a huge role in networking, informing, and gaining exposure, and having a profile or page as a freelance writer is invaluable. But it can also be a major time-killer, and it’s easy to get lost in the black hole of endless scrolling.

Personal social media-ing should be done outside of your scheduled work hours. This definitely requires discipline, but not mixing personal and business pages is a good start.

If you post regularly from your business page or profile, scheduling your posts in advance makes a huge difference to your time management.

Step one is deciding what content you’re going to post. This sounds tedious, but if you’re following your schedule and getting stuff out, you won’t find a shortage. Work on planning weekly in the beginning, and you can move on to monthly when you’re comfortable.

Step two is deciding on an automation app. It’s completely up to you to decide which works better for you. Apps such as Hootsuite, Buffer or Sprout Social are great for fuss-free social media management. 

All that remains is for you to spend some time (pencil it into the schedule) creating your posts for the week, scheduling the time you wish for them to be posted, and checking up on your interactions at certain times.

Time management doesn’t have to be a big, scary, corporate sounding thing. A few small changes to our daily activity can yield huge results in our business output and give us the freedom to let that creativity flow.

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Shanna is a South African chick who digs life, and endeavors to capture its coolness in photo, video and long gushing article format. Her sporadic thoughts about freelancing and other topics can be found at rat-race-riot.com. Her more structured thoughts on language reside at gustocopy.com

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