Chances are you are combining your freelance writing life with at least two other time consuming activities – either another (full time) job or kids.
And, as both of those take up a good chunk of your time, you are constantly struggling to get everything done, right? At least that is what my life looks like.
Even if you do not have to work around these issues, trying to write your posts, doing your accounting work, finding new writing clients, keeping your writer website up to date, and so on, your time is a fickle and oh so fleeting.
You are constantly struggling to get everything done.
It dissolves so easily.
So, how do you find the right balance? What can you do to (better) balance your working hours and be more productive?
‘Analyze This’ to Find Your Most Effective Time
Although you might have an idea of where you leak time, it sometimes helps to take a good look at your daily schedule.
Where do you spend effective time in an inefficient way?
After you caught up on your social media accounts and send the necessary texts and messages to update your profile and brand, do you keep reading other people’s messages and replies? Do you get lost in the interesting yet time consuming chat about this business conference or that? Or, the latest freelance related tax tips?
Even if you do not spend your time on funny-cat-clips on You Tube, time just flies.
Keep a log for a couple of days and note down what you do, or have done, every hour or per task and take note of how you feel.
Yes, how you feel!
It might seem strange but it will help you figure out which times of the day are your high efficiency or high energy periods. Similar to some of us being early birds or night owls, you have your own particular flow.
Find when those times are so you can use them to your advantage.
Now List and Prioritize Your Freelance Goals and Tasks
Take a look at your schedule and make a list of everything you need or want to do. Include short and long term goals and tasks:
- Your weekly blog post
- The writing project you just landed
- The e-book you still want to write
- Time to work on your website
- Finding more clients.
Which are the most important ones? A helpful way to weigh the importance of items on your to-do list is to prioritize them.
The highest priority goes to tasks that are important and urgent. Then, to those that are important but not urgent, followed by not important yet urgent, and lastly those activities that are routine.
Schedule your day
With a list of prioritized activities you can now start to plan your day, week and month for both short and long term tasks. Take into account your high energy peaks of the day and schedule the important and urgent tasks for those times. Routine activities are best undertaken at your ‘low’ times when it is hard to concentrate.
On to Your Daily Freelance Schedule and Rolling To-Do List
Each day or the evening before, plan your day. Again take into account both priorities and your high concentration times.
When you make sure to first do all your important and urgent tasks and you work down your list, you are doing very well.
Each day or the evening before, plan your day.
I don’t know about you, but in my life this often does not work out exactly like that; there is always something left that did not get done. Right?
Those jobs will roll over to the next day. When listing them again, now denote them with a number. Say, you did not get round write that article you wanted to post on your website in a couple of days. It will go back on your list but now you put a number two (#2) next to it to remind you that this is the second day on your list.
Whether you decide to hand write these lists, create them on your computer or use an app, the reminder will help keep you on track for both long and short term goals.
Other Time-Management Options
1. Change of Scenery
No, this does not mean you can fly off to a nice and warm island in the sun and forget about your clients.
Instead, doing something different or in a different environment can prove both beneficial for your business and your health.
Research has proven that if you’ve been procrastinating a lot behind your computer screen and fail to finish your set goals – because you spend too much time on your email – your brain has created a short-cut that now associates that particular place to a particular (in) action.
Move to your dining room table or go to your local coffee joint to initiate a new routine and you will find your drive to make deadlines again.
Based on your prioritized to-do list and knowing when your most efficient time of the day will hit, prepare for tomorrow, today.
Clear your desk of all the things you do not need or those that will entice you to be sidetracked. Put the research you need, the notes you made or the list you have to work through on your desk, ready for you to tackle first thing tomorrow. Make it easy not to become distracted.
3. Rate your day
At the end of your working day, look back and rate it.
How well did you do in terms of sticking to your schedule? Did you work through your list? Did you manage to finalize all your high priority tasks? If yes, what helped? If no, what prevented you from achieving your goals?
At the end of your working day, look back and rate it.
So, next time you get a request for an article or blog post, see how the work and deadline involved will fit into your schedule and with your high flow time slots. What other jobs can be rolled over to the next day and/or can you delegate some of your others tasks to someone else if this turns out to be a high urgency and high importance request?
Use what you find to learn and keep trying to do better and work smarter – not harder or longer!
What are your worst ‘time leaks’ and how have you solved them?