How can I not get overwhelmed as a freelancer?
You are lying on an exotic beach, drinking a fruity cocktail from a coconut shell, and enjoying the cool breeze. You open a laptop and start writing. It’s impossible not to feel inspired in such a location.
Or, you are in a hip café in Prague, working on a project with the astronomical clock tower watching over you.
You are a freelance writer, and that’s how life looks for you.
In reality, though, you’re probably going to spend a lot of your time in your pyjamas, not leaving your house for days, and stressing about the colossal amount of work you have building up.
That’s not to say that you can’t work from breathtaking locations. Theoretically, you can work from wherever you want and whenever you want. That’s if you know how to manage your time and juggle multiple projects at once.
Here are six time management hacks for freelancer writers.
1. Have a Daily Schedule
The best part about being self-employed is that you have the liberty of establishing working hours and deadlines as you see fit. Plan your day with specific slots for researching, writing, meetings, checking your emails, applying to new projects and whatever tasks your work might entail. Not only that a daily schedule will help organize your work, but it will also allow you to stay focused.
All clients and consequently, projects and tasks, are important. Still, it’s not humanly possible to tackle them all at once. You need to prioritize them depending on importance, due date, and intensity. For example, tasks that involve communicating with other people, such as interviews or collaborations, should be tackled first. That way you will have everything you need and can follow up with contacts that haven’t replied in time. Meanwhile, you can do your research or whatever you deemed necessary at that stage.
3. Learn to Say No
Most people assume that if you work from home, then you have a lot of free time on your hands, so can help them with last minute errands. But you know that’s not the case. Your working hours are as important as theirs, and you must make it clear to them. Set limits regarding your availability and say no to avoid spending the day doing tasks that eat up your time and productivity.
4. Eliminate Distractions
The Internet is like a double-edged sword. It has made it possible for you to work from anywhere you want and earn a nice paycheck every month. It’s also a black hole of distractions. It’s easy to lie to yourself that you’re just going to read that one article or watch just that one video. 30 minutes later, you’re still scrolling through your feed, looking at your friends’ pictures or funny videos.
Install a plugin, such as StayFocused, that blocks distracting Internet pages during your work. If you can’t access the sites that enable you to procrastinate, you can’t waste time scrolling through the endless stream of social media website content.
5. Work in Batches
Researching, interviewing, writing, editing and proofreading, each requires different skills. The brain needs a few minutes to adjust when switching between tasks, making you inefficient. Be smart and organize your work in batches. For example, you spend one hour every morning responding to emails and creating your plan for the day. Then, you focus on researching your topic by reading articles and taking notes. In the afternoon you write the first drafts and edit them in the evening.
6. Consider Your Energy Cycles
It’s a common advice to tackle the most difficult tasks first thing in the morning when your energy levels are supposed to be at their highest. However, this trick doesn’t work for everybody. While some are early birds and ready to jump right in at 7 am, others gather all their faculties and can handle intensity in the afternoon. Experiment and see how your energy fluctuates during the day and what types of tasks are better to tackle during each stage.
For many, being a freelance writer is a dream come true. But, to keep it that way, you need to learn how to manage your time effectively and streamline your process. You can use the tips above to change the way you write and produce more by doing less.