Time Management for Freelance Writers
No permanent boss. No rush to get dressed in the morning. Home for the kids after
school. Sounds ideal, but freelancing is anything but sunshine and lollipops. Freelancing
is tough. You have swapped the corporate safety net for autonomy, and you are now 100
percent responsible for your income and expenses.
Welcome to the world of telecommuting where, at first, you'll love the idea of not
having to punch in, but soon realize that you are on the clock round the clock. You don't
punch in because you never really punch out; when you work at home, there's a danger that
you never leave the office.
To avoid rapid burnout, learn time management techniques.
Prepare Yourself for Work
Try to forget that you are comfortable and at home. Maintain a work area; keep it as
clean and uncluttered as possible. To the extent you can, remove belongings and devices
from your workspace if they distract you more than they inspire you to write. You are your
own supervisor now.
Prepare yourself mentally for work every day, the same as you would if you were going
to an office to do a similar job. Some people can be productive in their pajamas; others
need to get dressed; still others, force themselves to get dressed as if they were
actually going out to the office, to put them in the proper frame of mind to work.
No matter how you get it done, you must honestly, tenaciously put yourself in a "work"
frame of mind, or you will not be consistently productive. To lapse into inefficient work
habits will be easy. Every time you skip a bid on a job and head to the park, or watch TV
instead of write, you move a step closer to your next job, back at the office to which you
swore you'd never return.
Schedule Your Time and Understand Your Capacity
One of the main reasons new freelance writers fail is because they overextend
themselves. Turning down money is rough. If you are good, you will likely have to turn
down money on a regular basis in order to succeed.
What? Say that again? Sure: you will regularly pass on new jobs, to devote proper
attention to current and scheduled projects, or risk failing to deliver what you promised
to those who have already hired you. Failing your customers is bad business. They will
never rehire you, nor will they refer you to colleagues, both of which represent a
substantial loss of future business.
Develop a firm idea of not only what you can do, but also how much of it you can
complete within a given time frame. If you have met your capacity to produce within a
given time frame, you will need to turn down additional offers carrying the same deadline.
Be prepared to walk away from the money if taking it means you are setting yourself up
to fail. If you meet or exceed the expectation of clients in hand, they are more apt to
become repeat customers. A level of trust develops. As you prove you keep your word to
your customers, and deliver them quality work, they tend to become, when possible, more
open to you asking, "Ms. Employer, you know I like to do my best for you, and I'd really
like to tackle that project. Given my current commitments, I could not finish it by your
Friday deadline, but by Sunday night, I'm sure I could."
You will be surprised, at first, how often you get the job anyway if, and only if, your
record of accomplishment attests that you deliver quality work on time. Establishing that
track record requires an understanding of your capacity for work during a given time frame.
You also must schedule all aspects of your life to allow time to focus on your clients.