Oh no, not another blog post about time management. If you're saying that to yourself as you read this, I know how you feel. There are countless articles like this on the Internet, including those with strategies specific to writers. In fact, some of you may have noticed I wrote a blog on this exact topic in 2016. So how is this one different?
Well for starters, this one is longer (bad joke, I know). But in all seriousness, I think it's a good idea to share how time management strategies can change over time. I know mine have as I continue to keep up with an increasing workload at Edit This®.
Below is a revamped list of time management strategies that help keep me on track:
1. Use a calendar – This should be on everyone's time management list, and I even wrote a separate blog about it. I record everything using the Google calendar on my phone, from upcoming appointments to assignment due dates, daily tasks, my kids' baseball games, and even mileage to and from meetings with clients.
2. Take a lot of notes – Inevitably, I'll be working on one writing project, and an idea for another will pop into my mind. I've made a habit of keeping my phone or a pen and paper handy to log those ideas for down the road. This tip saves time in the long run.
3. Maximize downtime – Time is a precious resource that is often wasted or mismanaged. Take advantage of the time you spend in a waiting room at the doctor's office or at your car's next oil change. Even if you don't have your laptop with you, you can still use the notes app on your smartphone or a pen and paper.
4. Redefine "office hours" – Writers should take advantage of times during the day – or night – when their creative juices are at their peak, and there are fewer interruptions. For me, that's not in the middle of the day. I work a lot late at night or very early in the morning, which creates flexibility when a client needs my help in the middle of the day.
5. Schedule stuff well in advance – If you know you have a big feature article coming up – even if it's not until next month – work out a time that works best for your client and get it on the calendar now. It will help you mentally prepare and eliminate last-minute planning, which can throw everything else off.
6. Set time limits for yourself – This is important for those of us who respond to a lot of emails and voicemails. These tasks, though still important, can consume your entire day if you aren't careful. Try scheduling blocks of time for these tasks, and stick to it.
7. Set a routine – I have a friend who teases me for being a creature of habit. To a degree, he's right. But when it comes to getting stuff done, establishing a routine is a great time management strategy. Whatever routine works for you is fine, just stick with it.
8. Designate specific days for projects – Fridays tend to be my go-to days for writing shorter blogs for my clients, whereas Sundays are perfect to focus on research and larger projects. This strategy helps when it comes to setting my calendar for the week.
9. Know your deadlines – Most writers have deadlines, whether it's for a newspaper, magazine, or a business client who needs something by the end of the week. To help you prioritize all your projects, ask what the deadline is and schedule accordingly. If there isn't a strict deadline, mentally set one, so nothing falls by the wayside.
10. Constantly reevaluate your processes – It is critical that we all take a hard look at the time management strategies we have in place and question whether or not they are working. If they are, keep plugging along. But if they aren't, it's time to switch things up.
My hope is you put into practice what resonates most with you.
Good luck, and thanks for reading!
*STEVE GAMEL is the President & Owner of Edit This, LLC, 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.