People who know freelance writers and people who are newly becoming freelance writers believe the work is simple and full of perks with no downside. You will hear about how great it is to sit around at home all day in your pajamas and take breaks whenever you want.
The truth is that freelance writing is a tough business and many people are not suited to managing their own time.
As a freelance writer you are paid only for performance, unlike a wage-based or salaried job, you don’t get paid for goofing off.
The whole key to success is effective time management, here are a few tips and techniques that can be used by freelance writers to make the most of their time:
Do not mix home life and work life. A freelance writer needs an office space used only for work. The ideal situation is having an office outside the home, but this is not always financially possible. The next best thing is to have an entire room devoted only to work. If no separate rooms are available in your home, create a division with folding screen or a curtain at the very least. Even if you can only give yourself a corner of a room, it is well worth it.
Give yourself a set schedule. You should probably be working close to 40 hours per week to stay on top of your financial needs and goals. Think of your work as a job. Do not let anything interfere with your schedule. The schedule can vary either here or there, but make up your hour of tardiness in the morning by staying late an hour. Variations of more than an hour are discouraged.
This may be an old cliché, but in the world of freelance writing it can be helpful. You don’t have to wear a three-piece suit or a business skirt and heels, but you should, at the very least, change out of your pajamas. Wearing the right clothes will put you in a frame of mind for working. Wearing pajamas fosters laziness and apathy.
Record what you do all day and the times you are doing whatever it is you find yourself doing. You can keep a notepad and pen around, but it is more efficient to use a capable piece of time-tracking software. Using the software, you are less likely to fudge the numbers. When you have an accurate recording of how you spend your time, you will have a powerful tool to improve your time management skills. You can see where time is wasted, and create strategies to improve.
Avoid unproductive activities in the middle of the day. Don’t take a break to watch a favorite television show. Do what anyone else would do if it is on while at work – record it and watch it later, after work. Don’t run personal errands in the middle of the day. If you have to, wake up early and get started working early so you can end your workday in the afternoon, leaving you with sufficient time. This doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself in the office all day. Everyone takes a lunch break. Going out for lunch, or even just to your own kitchen can provide a much needed break from the monotony of the job.