Managing Deadlines 101
When you first got into freelance writing, you probably thought writing was the most important part of your gig. You most likely assumed that, as a blogger for hire, you only had to create great work, and the other parts of the job would just take care of themselves. However, as you undoubtedly now know, the actual art of writing is far less important than the boring topics of responsibility and time management.
A critical component of freelance writing is your ability to manage the deadlines for your various projects. Every freelancer has a different approach in this area, so there’s no wrong way to consider deadlines (besides, of course, not considering deadlines at all, in which case you won’t be a freelancer for long). Here are some of the more common mindsets regarding deadlines. Keep in mind that different situations call for different approaches, so don’t be shy about trying something different every once in a while.
First In, First Out
In a perfect world, we’d all tackle each project as soon as we get it. Deadlines would never be an issue, and we’d all live happily ever after. Unfortunately, this isn’t the way the real world works. Other assignments, real-world problems and the dreaded beast of procrastination make this impossible. Still, it’s a nice ideal to keep in mind.
First Due, First Out
Now we’re getting more into a system that’s actually practical. Upon opening your list of jobs, you start the task with the most pressing due date. This gets the pressure off your back and enables you to manage your workflow in an orderly manner. This approach is a nice one for keeping your sanity in check, although some high-priority projects with quick turnarounds can put a big wrench in your desired schedule.
Last Due, First Out
Sometimes it’s fun to flip the script and do things in a way that’s not entirely conventional. For instance, if I have a piece that’s due in 4 hours, I’ll start with a job that’s not due for three days. My thinking is that I can get the ball rolling with something with less pressure attached to it. Then, when I get to the article with a more pressing deadline, I’m already warmed up and ready to focus. This also helps to create a sense of urgency, which often creates exceptional results.
As Late As Possible
We touched on procrastination earlier, and this mindset is a dream for those who love to put off their work until they simply can’t wait any longer. This is also a good one for people who believe they work best under pressure. The problem is, any number of things can go wrong at the last minute. Something small like a long line at the coffee shop can put you past your deadline and into the territory of awkwardly explaining yourself to your client. Therefore, it’s advised that you enter this territory only if you have no other choice.
At the end of the day, the best way to approach deadlines is to figure out what works best for you, given your unique work situation and the constraints that are placed on your freelancing career. However, don’t be afraid to experiment with these ideas, or any other approaches you may have in mind. If you’re stuck in a rut, sometimes a little tweak in your workflow is all it takes to get you feeling invincible again.
BIO: Bryan B is a freelance writer who lives in Long Island, NY. He’s way too excited about fall weather and fantasy football.