5 time management hacks for writers
Updated: Jul 19, 2019
I wrote the majority of this blog while sitting in a waiting room before a big presentation. I used a notes application on my phone to do most of the work, too.
More often than not, that's the way it goes when you are a self-employed writer, blogger, or freelancer. There are a ton of projects to keep up with, so naturally, you have to make the most of your time! In fact, being a "Jedi Master" at time management is as important as being really good at your craft. Some might argue it's THE most important thing.
If that means you knock out an article while in a waiting room, or on an airplane, you do it.
With Edit This, I help small business owners find the right words to better connect with the right clients. That means I am writing a lot of content. But I also have my blog to keep up with, plus, I'm a sports writer for a newspaper. Managing all that as a one-man show, while fitting in time for research and reporting, billing, putting out fires, and keeping up with community involvement is not easy.
My phone constantly rings, and emails fly in at a breakneck pace. It can seem as though life is one important deadline after the other. But I love it all.
I've been a writer for nearly 20 years, and in that time I have come up with a myriad of clever ways to divide my time efficiently to cover all aspects of running my business, spending time with my beautiful family, and even carving out a little time for myself.
Below are my Top 5 time management hacks for writers.
Think outside the box on "office hours"
What I mean is don't be afraid to work odd hours on a project, and don't pigeonhole yourself into a 9-5 shift, either. As a writer, you want to take advantage of times during the day – or night – when you typically have your creative juices flowing, and there's less chance for interruptions. Typically, that's not the middle of the day! I get most of my bigger articles done super late at night or very early in the morning. The top advantage is that I can get work done without imposing on family time because, of course, everyone is still asleep. It also allows me to stay in front of smaller tasks or meetings that come up throughout the day. I have greater flexibility to take on last-minute projects when a client really needs my help, I can pick up the phone and answer every email for all my clients, and I'm far less stressed.
Keep "stuff" handy
My family always teases me because I constantly have my computer with me in the backseat of the car – even if I have nothing going on. I also have my phone, a pen and a pad of paper. Keep that stuff handy because you NEVER want to be caught unprepared as a self-employed writer. That's not to say you always have to be in "work mode" but if the situation comes up, you're ready for it. For time management purposes, it really comes in handy when you're sitting in a waiting room (like I mentioned earlier). A perfect example: My wife had a nail in her tire one morning, so I had to make an unscheduled stop to get it fixed. That time would normally be wasted, but in a packed waiting room, I managed to finish up two short blogs for separate clients. If it's going to be a quick stop, at least have your phone and a pad of paper handy to jot notes or do a quick phone interview – it saves a ton of time in the long run.
The simple truth is you will never get everything done in one day. And even if you do, another new project will be added on very soon. Use a calendar to plan things out. It doesn't matter if it's a paper calendar or the one on your phone, just do it. At the beginning of each month, I map out everything I know I have going on and when I plan on writing those projects. As the days and weeks go by and more projects come my way, I simply add them in. Have I mentioned I don't miss deadlines? This is why, and by planning ahead, I'm able to continue taking on new projects without going insane.
You're going to need to stay focused on those crazy days when it seems like too many projects are coming in all at once. You may have had a plan for how you thought the day was going to go, but that all changed around 8 a.m., right?!?! This is a time management tip because, with the right focus, you will be able to slow down and prioritize each project in your head. Cutting target goals into smaller and more immediate pieces will make you feel like you have accomplished more than you originally thought possible. Breaking stories happen, clients call during your lunch break. It happens. But never let them see you sweat, and try as hard as you can to bend over backward to make it happen.
Know when it's time to delegate
I made this the last one on the list because there will come a day when a one-person show can no longer do the job on their own. You have to be able to recognize that before it happens, and when it does, be able to step in and delegate some of that extra work to someone else. Yes, that means hiring employees, freelancers, or even a virtual assistant. Even if it's your business and you want your stamp of approval on anything that's sent to a client, it's easier to manage your time by tweaking something someone else has helped you with than it would be trying to do it on your own when you are clearly maxed out. If you are at a point in your self-employed life when you are preparing to expand and hire employees, that means you are successful!
I hope this helps. Thanks for reading!
*STEVE GAMEL is the President & Owner of Edit This, a writing and editing services company located in Denton, TX. Steve handles anything involving the written word. Give him a call today to help give your business a clear voice.