Hooray! You’re getting work as a freelance writer! The next step is managing your workload.
Here are my top 5 tips for managing your workload as a freelance writer. These will help you make conscious decisions about the deadlines that you accept, the types of projects you take, and how you schedule your time–both in terms of your client load and the projects that you have on your docket.
1. Know Your Energy
To take advantage of your best working periods, you need to know your energy patterns. Pay attention to how your energy shifts up and down during the day. One example of this is “the 3:00 PM crash,” when a lot of people experience low energy. Makes sense–it’s after lunch, and you’ve been sitting at your desk for a couple of hours.
If your most energetic time period is from 4:00 to 6:00 PM, and you’re lucky enough to have someone else to cover for dinner duty, then use that time for your writing. Or maybe it’s best to work first thing in the morning, with a cup of coffee. The point is to block out time to do your writing at the times when you are physically most inclined to be successful.
2. Track Your Time
You have to know how much time you have each week AND how much time it takes you to get stuff done.
3. Build Internal Deadlines
Another tip is to build internal deadlines and give yourself a long runway. That means if you have something due on a Friday, you schedule it on your calendar to have it done by Tuesday. That way, if something happens and you lose a day or even two days of work, all is not lost. You can still get your stuff turned in on time.
That’s being a professional–making sure that you’re set up to succeed at on-time deliverables.
It’s also really helpful because it gives you time to go cold on the writing. You can do one last read through to catch any typos or errors before you send it along. Your copy is going to be cleaner and better, and you are going to be less crazed by better managing your workload.
4. Set Your Hours
You should set “client hours” so that you aren’t always on. You don’t even have to communicate these hours to your clients. Just give yourself structure, such as: I check my work email at 6:00 AM, 10:00 AM, noon, and 4:00 PM. Then don’t check your email in the evenings. Or maybe the evenings are the only time that you check your email.
But put some boundaries around your working time so that you don’t get sucked in when you would otherwise be doing other things, like spending time with your family and friends. It’s really okay to do that!
Pro Tip: A lot of times your clients will send you stuff as they think about it, but they’re not expecting an immediate response. Most people send you a message or email and assume that they’re going to hear back from you later in the day or maybe tomorrow, depending on what time of day it is. They’re not expecting to hear back from you immediately. If they are, you might need to get rid of them, because that’s unreasonable.
5. Track and Remind
Track everything using something that can send you reminders. Don’t try to remember, just make sure that you have stuff written down. That means you can fire your brain. This is probably the best tip for managing your workload!
Put your deadline on your calendar, Trello board, or whatever system you use, attach a date to it, and set it to remind you. If you can, set multiple notifications. Maybe set one three days in advance and then another notification that goes off the morning of, etc.
The best way to equip yourself for success in not missing deadlines is to put them on the calendar and set reminders.
If you can start implementing all of these tips, you’ll find that your life is a lot easier and that you’re feeling overwhelmed less often. You may even start to realize that you’re an in-demand writer. If you have to schedule out, such as telling people “I can start writing for you beginning in two weeks,” because you’re booked before then, it’s a really good feeling. And I want that feeling for you!
If you have questions about any of this, come join my free Facebook Group, The Ink Well Guild. We have new and experienced writers in the group, and I’m frequently in there, responding to people. We help each other out with advice and feedback.
If you need help getting great writing samples for your portfolio, I have a course called Clips Camp.
It’s a three-week course for new and advanced new freelance writers who want to get started with high-paid client work. If you’re on Upwork or Fiverr and miserable, if you haven’t even done anything to get started and you don’t know what the first step is, then Clips Camp is for you.
I teach you how to put together a solid portfolio of writing samples that position you as the kind of awesome writer that awesome clients want to hire. If you want in on that or you just want more information, go to clipscamp.com, and I will see you on the inside!