One of the best parts of freelancing in not having a boss lurking around your cubicle asking for the TPS report, a nosy coworker clocking your lunch break or an IT guy peeking into your computer history to see how many times you’ve checked Facebook. For freelance copywriters, there are no time clocks to punch and you are the only one monitoring your schedule. Your time might be your own, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be spent wisely.
When you are a fledgling writer, it might be possible to remember deadlines and necessary tasks. As your business grows, with a pool of clients on multiple platforms, a well-planned schedule is a must. But, setting one up isn’t as easy as opening a calendar app and plugging in deadlines.
Determine your work hours
Establishing your hours is the first step in setting up your schedule. Not all hours are created equal, and freelancers aren’t tied to the traditional 9:00 to 5:00 routine. Start by penciling in your family’s schedule to determine when you will have the least disruptions. Then, listen to your biorhythms. Some people are more energetic and focused at 2:00 AM than they are at 2:00 PM. Once you have determined your typical schedule, pencil in a few overflow hours for unexpected revisions and projects that take longer than expected. It’s also a good idea to determine times that can be used for multitasking, such as brainstorming while waiting for the kids to finish ballet practice.
Make a task list
You can’t start scheduling until you know what needs to be done. You will obviously include the major creative tasks, such as research, writing, editing and brainstorming. But, don’t forget all the other activities it takes to run a successful writing business, such as accounting, searching for jobs, client communication and maintaining a website. Assign each task a priority level of high, medium or low.
Conduct a time study
Spend a week evaluating the way you use time as a resource in your writing business. Keep a notebook with you all day and make a note each time you switch tasks. In addition to the minutes and hours you spend on work related activities, take note of distractions and non-work items. At the end of the week, tally up the total time spent on each activity. Be sure to note how long it takes you to write articles of various lengths. The result will be a clear picture of how your time is spent and what adjustments you can make to be more efficient. Pay particular attention to how your time spent compares with the priority levels.
Create your schedule
Armed with your task list and time study, select a scheduling system that works for you. You may choose a scheduling app, the calendar function on your computer or a paper planner. Start by assigning your high priority tasks, probably writing and editing, to your most productive and alert hours. Then fill in your second tier of tasks, leaving the third tier to the work hours when distractions and low energy levels are more likely to intrude.
Even with a detailed schedule and plan in place, freelancers always need to be ready to rearrange and put out fires. Start each day determined to work your plan, and then react and flex as needed.
Writer Bio: Michelle S is a fulltime freelance writer. She believes that nothing good happens before noon so she schedules her work hours in the afternoon and evening.