Time Management for Freelance Writers

As a freelance writer, your time is money.  Every second you spend doing something you can't bill for is costing you unless it's going to result in billable business later.

  • Occasionally writing for less than your standard fee is okay - if you're going to get business later because it's a regular client or it's contributing to your portfolio
  • Research for clients is okay - you should already have it built in to your pricing
  • Spending time promoting your website is okay - it'll draw in clients and you can begin new relationships with it.
In any case, your time as a freelance writer is very valuable.  The only way I can make my time equal the amount of money I need is by setting a schedule for the day.  It also serves to ensure I beat every deadline by a mile.

The freedom you get as a freelance writer is enormous - but it can be overwhelming and it's easy to get off track.  If you've got a schedule (I use Outlook's calendar, my iPhone and a paper version) you can get things done much more quickly than you thought you would... and make more money as a result.

I schedule everything.  Here's what my typical day looks like (I get up early thanks to old habits and a husband who has to be at work by 5:30):

4:30 - Stumble into the kitchen, spill half the coffee grounds on the counter and start the brew cycle
4:35 - Pour the juice of the gods into my favorite mug
4:36 - Clean up the coffee grounds
4:40 - Kiss hubby goodbye and feel sorry for him because I'm out of the Army and he isn't
4:45 - Check email
4:55 - Play around on Facebook
5:10 - Think about going for a run
5:11 - Decide against it
5:12 - Read all yesterday's blog posts by my favorite writers
5:30 - Shower
6:00 to 9:00 - Drink as much coffee as I possibly can while working on client projects
9:01 - Clean up all the coffee I've managed to spill
9:05 - Screw around on Facebook again
9:15 - Back to work...
6:00 is quitting time.

You get the idea.  While I don't really have the coffee spillage worked into my calendar, I do have time set aside for reading other blogs and conducting my own research to keep my business current.  Each project has its own time slot in my day, and if I put it off, I swap it with something else or work late. 

The most important thing is to have a system in place to ensure you're on track.  Sometimes I snooze my Outlook reminders - but they come back to make sure I'm doing what I need to pay the bills.

Are you a stickler for schedules, or do they keep you uncomfortably tethered?

© Angie Papple Johnston, 2010; if you are reading this anywhere but on FreeFreelanceWritingTips.Blogspot.com or Gather, it looks like someone has penciled theft into their schedule.

"Wall Clock" image courtesy of Lusi