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6 Time-Management Tips for Overwhelmed Freelance Writers

by | May 9, 2016

Whether you’re a freelancer, a creative writer, or even both, chances are you’ll have to manage multiple writing projects at once.

With several different types of projects, or several large ones all requiring a lot of attention, it can be hard to manage the workload among them all.

Here are some tips for handling several projects at once.

1. Make a schedule

The most important thing you can do to stay on top of your projects is to keep track of your deadlines. But when you’re managing multiple projects, keeping track of deadlines isn’t enough.

Make sure you also set yourself deadlines for each step of the project along the way, like interviews and research, to you ensure you aren’t trying to finish it all the same day a project is due.

You should also schedule specific work times for each step of the project just like you would a phone call or a meeting. Doing this ensures you work ahead and keep up with all your projects at once, as well as ensures you stay focused without having to think about what you should be doing when.

Use a calendar app and a to-do list so you’re always up to date, and spend time at the end of each day making a list of what you need to do the next so you can get right to work.

2. Prioritize

When you’re working on multiple projects at once you’ll probably find you’ll have to bounce back and forth between projects to get everything done on time. You have to prioritze when each step of each project must be completed before you can move on.

The best place to start is whatever tasks you have to complete before you can move ahead.

Many times, this means beginning with what you will need from other people involved with each project. Start with any task that requires other people, such as collaborations, interviews, or anything else because it may take time for others to get back to you.

This way, they can start working while you do your research or other first steps, you make sure you get the information you need well before your deadline, and you have time to follow up if you haven’t heard back from a contact.

Then work on projects by due date or the intensity of the project, whichever works best for your schedule and workload. Just be strategic in your planning to stay ahead.

3. Stay organized

It’s easy to feel scattered when you have a lot going on, but if you keep your projects organized, you won’t waste time hunting for files or notes. Good organization can go a long way to minimize stress.

Keep all your files clearly labeled, and use individual folders for each client and project in order to make finding documents easy. If you keep paper files, make sure to clearly label your notes.

It may take some work up front to organize your system, but it will save a lot of hassle later.

4. Start early

Don’t wait until the day before a project is due to start it, especially when you’re managing multiple projects. For starters, you never know what roadblocks you’ll encounter and starting early can ensure surprises don’t sneak up on you the day before a major deadline.

Another reason you should start projects early is so you can work through your ideas about individual projects while you do other things like driving, cooking, or cleaning.

By starting early, you can keep working through your plan or actually begin writing articles in your head while you do other things.

5. Batch your work

Batching your work can help keep you focused and productive. A lot of the time, it’s wiser to work on specific pieces of projects on the same day, rather than completing whole projects at once.

For example, if you have to do research at the library, it’s smarter to research everything in one trip rather than making multiple trips.

If you have to make calls, schedule them in one afternoon so you can do all your calls at once instead of interrupting your writing time later. You can write all your interview questions in one preparation session instead of several.

Just make sure you understand how your energy cycles in your projects. While you may be able to schedule several interviews in one day, it may be harder to schedule several writing projects in one day, since it will require higher-intensity work.

6. Focus

While you may be hopping from project to project to get the work done, make sure the time you dedicate to each project is focused time so you complete quality work.

This means when you schedule your work or writing time, you only do what you’ve scheduled at that time. Don’t check emails or social media, and don’t think about your other projects. Just focus on the item you have scheduled.

If you do happen to have a genius idea for another project while you’re working, make a quick note and come back to it later instead of losing your flow and switching projects.

The first few times you have to balance multiple projects may be tricky, but with practice and a few helpful productivity techniques you can ensure you finish your work on time while maintaining your quality.

Freelancers, how do you balance multiple writing projects?