Content writing is a great job, and I’m glad I live in a world where I can work from home, set my own hours and get paid to do something that fulfills my need for challenges while taking advantage of my talents with words. If you write for a living, I have little doubt that you feel the same way. Unfortunately, time management for writers is something that most of us seem to struggle with.
Even the most famous and well-regarded writers in history have famously struggled with time management. Some of them have even ignored their deadlines to provide us with some great quotes that illustrate this phenomenon:
“The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing” – Alan Dean Foster
“I never put off till tomorrow what I can possibly do the day after.” – Oscar Wilde
“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” – Rita Mae Brown
Time Management for Writers: Can it Really be Improved?
Why writers seem to be so predisposed to procrastination is another topic for another blog article, but you should know that you don’t have to be a prisoner of your propensity to put things off. Just like most other writers, I struggle with time management; however, I’ve found some tools and techniques that work for me when it comes to making sure I use my time wisely and meet deadlines. These tips on time management for writers might not work for you, but I think they’re worth trying if you feel like too much of your time is being spent avoiding your work.
- Tackle the Most Difficult Project First
If you’re like me, you have several different writing projects in the hopper at any given time. Unfortunately, one dreaded assignment can make you avoid all of the easier ones. In other cases, you might work on completing all of your “fun” assignments while you continue to push the more difficult writing projects to the back burner. Make a habit of performing your most difficult work as the first thing you do every day, and you’ll definitely improve your ability to meet deadlines.
- Get Your Butt in Your Chair
It’s been well-documented that writers like to take walks and pace around their homes as they fiddle with ideas in their brains. This certainly helps me organize my thoughts, but too much pacing around can keep you from the place where you need to be to actually get work done – your chair. Although it takes great willpower sometimes, you need to decide on a timeframe during which you’ll be sitting in your chair and writing. For me, I set aside two to four hours every day (usually first thing in the morning) specifically for being tethered to my writing desk and chair. Once you’re in this position, it’s much easier to avoid procrastination and generate content.
- Find a Timer That Works for You
Sitting down for two to four hours of straight writing is pretty daunting, which is why I like to schedule regular breaks for myself. Getting into the habit of setting a timer was one of the best things I did for my career as a writer. Personally, I like to use the Focus Booster app. It counts down 25 minutes for work followed by five minutes for a break. It seems like it would be too simple to really work, but I’ve found that it keeps my eyes on my screen and my fingers tapping away at my keys. This makes the hours fly by, and it helps me ensure that I complete my work in a timely manner.
- Set Clear Goals
I actually write my daily and weekly writing goals on a sheet of paper because I like the feeling of physically crossing something off of a list. Regardless of how you keep track of your goals, it’s important that you find a system that helps you keep your work in perspective. Make a list of what you need to accomplish and remove it from the list when you’re done with it. You’ll get addicted to completing projects and you’ll feel much better about your productivity.
- Be Good to Yourself
On the surface, this one has very little to do with writing. However, I think it’s the most important tip on this list. If you’re running late on a deadline, don’t beat yourself up. If you’re running into a mental block, remind yourself that it happens to every single writer on the planet. Congratulate yourself when you complete a project. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well-done. Writing is a lonely profession most of the time, so it’s up to you to provide positive feedback and a comforting work environment.I believe that it’s also important to take care of yourself physically. Staying hunched in a chair as you come up with content on a daily basis can take a lot out of you, and when your body is unfit, your mind will soon follow. This doesn’t mean that you should join a gym, but you should try to integrate some physical activity into your life in order to give it balance and to ensure that you’re always as sharp as you can be mentally.
Good Habits and a Positive Attitude
As you can see, most of these tips require you to take action – none of these tips or any other bits of advice will complete your projects for you. The key is to replace some bad habits with some good ones little by little while retaining a positive attitude. Over time, you’ll realize that your accumulated efforts have been paying off in the form of less stress, more free time and clients who want to keep giving you good, lucrative work.
Are you a writer who struggles with time management? What do you do to make sure you meet your deadlines? Let us know by dropping us a line or leaving a comment below.