6 Time-Management Tips for Overwhelmed Freelance Writers

6 Time-Management Tips for Overwhelmed Freelance Writers

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?

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9 comments

  • Elke Feuer says:

    Great post! I love what you said about batching. I just started doing this and find it helpful.

    Starting early works best for me, as well as tracking all my assignment deadlines on a spreadsheet that I review weekly when scheduling my tasks.

    • Thanks! Spreadsheets are incredibly helpful. I like to take notes on one of where I am within each task if they are part of large projects that will require several days to complete.

  • Nina Amir says:

    Awesome post. Focus is so key…in the blocked time you create for a project. You can’t manage time but you an manage your attention!

    I became a Cert. High Performance Coach (in addition to an Author Coach) because I realized that writers have such a difficult time becoming productive. I wanted strategies and tools to use myself as well as to provide to other writers.

    And overwhelm does, indeed, get in the way! Sometimes when I’ve been overwhelmed in the past I procrastinated, which does not help the stress level go down. You really need to learn how to push through stress and fear, block time, get rid of distractions, and focus on your priority.

  • Hi Peggy!

    It’s good to know I’m not alone in my multitasking. 😉 I actually love having multiple projects going on at the same time, because it can be refreshing to move to something new when I need a break from another. Sometimes the projects even inform each other, and having spent some time doing something else will give me the perspective I need to complete, or make progress with, the first task.

    But with writing, especially when it’s all at a computer, I find it very important to incorporate some kind of movement into my work schedule. Otherwise it’s easy for me to get so bogged down in what I’m doing that I stop being efficient. I almost always feel more focused after going for a run, doing yoga, or even just stretching. And for multitasking especially, a little physical movement can make for a good transition between projects. The Time Out app is really good for reminding you to take breaks when working at the computer, and these breaks could also divide up different chunks of time for different projects.

    Good luck with the multitasking!
    Rebekah

  • Awesome post, Peggy! All the tips are actionable and so on point for freelancers. Your last 3 tips especially spoke to me. Sometimes, I don’t plan ahead enough and starting a project the day of can be stressful!

    But it’s something that I will work on now 🙂

  • You can Follow these steps
    1.make todolist
    2. set smart goals
    3. Break larger task into smaller one
    4. plan your work
    5. Use Templates
    6. Avoid Distarctions
    7. USE digital tools

  • Ludiah says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the informative article. These tips we always have them with us in mind but we tend to assume until we come across articles like this one. I find myself distracted unnecessarily and until now, I’m still practicing how to avoid distractions.

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