The more time that goes by, the less of it I find I have. It can be stressful and leave me feeling overwhelmed. Especially with customers coming from different time zones wanting fast turnarounds!
I have my novel to work on; I have a paid trial for a prominent company; I have my individual clients; I write AND run a Dungeons and Dragons campaign for my friends; I work a full-time job, and I’m in a relationship maintaining a loving family.
Sounds like a lot, huh? I wanted that paragraph to be a mouthful, so you’d feel the same way I often do!
However, it doesn’t have to be difficult! With a strict schedule (and yes, I mean strict!) I often get everything I want done and always please my customers. In doing this, I’ve learned various effective time management skills that I want to share with you today! So read on to hear some tips of the trade!
What is Time Management?
I know, it sounds like a silly question. But it’s an important one! It’s easy to assume time management is a simple case of managing one’s time. Trust me, there is more to it than that! If you can manage your time, you’re off to a flying start, but another important aspect is organising what you do with that time. It’s not about working hard, it’s about working smart. So for this blog, we’re going to define time management as the effective use of your time, and to do that, there are two key things you need to be succeeding at it:
1. Pleasing your clients – If you’re good at managing time, you’ll never miss a deadline.
2. Not getting stressed – Don’t drown in your work! Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
But how do you do that? Do you use tools? A worksheet?
HERE ARE THE TRICKS
The first thing you have to do is create a working schedule, and stick to it!
Every day, I dedicate an hour and a half, AT LEAST, to writing. During that time, my writing is akin to working for a corporation. I don’t allow myself to get distracted, and it’s all I do.
I understand you might not have an hour and a half to put aside every day, so here’s a little trick.
SET A TIMER.
Upon my desk, I have a timer next to me – on my phone. I set it to an hour and a half and hit go. Sometimes life happens, and I get distracted. My partner needs me, or we have visitors show up unannounced. Instead of getting frustrated, I hit pause on that timer and see to them. As long as that timer hits 0:00, and I’ve spent every second of the countdown writing, I know I’ve put my time in for the evening.
The best part about doing that is every night when I go to bed, I can’t feel bad for the amount I’ve done, because I can tell myself, I put in the same amount of work as I did the night before.
I even sometimes do extra! For example, I call Wednesday, “Writey Wednesday!” On that day, I set the timer to two hours!
We’re all human, and a key thing in life incentive. Why should you put the work in every night, when there’s no gain from it? For me, my incentive is that I get paid. But what if you’re building a portfolio? What’s the incentive when you haven’t got guaranteed customers?
I use an android app called DoItNow!
It’s a real simple app – that I keep meaning to write a full article on – where you set yourselves tasks and upon completion of them, you earn virtual coins! Those coins you can then exchange for rewards, which you create! An hour and a half of writing earns me 15 coins. For 50 coins, I can go on Amazon and buy myself something nice! I buy nothing for myself on any other occasion and it’s a HUGE motivator.
KNOW YOUR DEADLINES AND UNDERSHOOT THEM.
This one’s important. It took me a long time to learn and believe me; I annoyed previous companies by not being good at this. I’m proud to say I am now. If you have multiple customers, don’t just REMEMBER your deadlines, KNOW THEM, and BEAT THEM. How can you do that?
Every time you receive a new order, ask your client about their turnaround. They’ll likely give you a range, such as 5-7 days. On your spreadsheet, enter your customer’s details and create a “due date” column. Order your spreadsheet by that column, so you know your priorities. Then, enter a definitive date to finish the client’s article by. Make that date AT LEAST one day before the customer requires.
This way, should life happen, you have breathing room. Should you need to make last-minute revisions, you can. Should everything be in order and you send your article to your client earlier, you have one happy client!
Don’t forget to use colours, too!
You want your due dates to stand out. If you have time to work on something, or a deadline is far off, highlight it green. If the deadline is coming up: amber. If it’s gone by or imminent: red.
If you don’t use colours, it’s easy to miss something!
Follow these three quick tricks, and you’ll find already, you’re building an organised business. Remember, only work within the time-frames you set yourself! Outside of those times, spend time with your loved ones, doing what you want and having fun.
What’s the point in building a freelance career if you’re not enjoying doing it? Money is little more than digital numbers on a display.
Thanks for checking out this week’s blog post! Tune in next week for more writing tips, advice, or to just hear about how I’m doing!
Don’t forget to comment your own advice below, subscribe to my email list and get in touch! I’m always looking for more clients, or to discuss the craft of writing!
See you next week!