Freelance writers live and die by their time and task management skills. This is especially true of freelancers who write for sites such as Demand Studios. Demand Studios gives writers at least one great advantage. Writers don’t have to spend time marketing themselves and landing clients. They have thousands of assignments to choose from at any one time. Writers can focus on content creation rather than marketing and publicity. That is a great advantage, but there are also challenges that come along with that advantage. The key challenge is time and task management. As a writer you will be juggling multiple assignments and you will have to complete these assignments quickly and efficiently if you want to make a living.
To begin with, we should define exactly what time management and task management are.
The process of scheduling and organization time to determine how much time is required to complete multiple direct and indirect tasks, and when such tasks are required.
Task management is the process of managing a series of tasks or projects through their life cycle, including planning, tracking and reporting.
Time and task management are very similar concepts. The main difference is emphasis. In time management, creating and sticking to a schedule is the primary goal. In task management, the completion of projects is the primary goal. These two types of organization can be used separately or combined together.
Using time management for your projects
Step One: Make a realistic assessment of how you spend your time
You can choose to use time management for just your work day, or for your whole life. For freelancers, who generally work at home, work and life tend to merge together so it is a good idea to assess your whole life. How do you use your time and how can it be improved? Tom Johnson of I’d Rather be Writing had this to say about how eliminating one thing has improved his life.
My biggest time sink by far was television. When you look at statistics for the amount of time people spend in front of the TV, it stacks up to about the same as a part-time job.
Why do we watch so much TV? Usually we think that the only way to relax or decompress is to turn on the television and escape the world for a while, but it’s not true. You can relax and decompress in more productive ways, such as tinkering around with your website, playing a sport, or reading a book. I wrote about this here: http://idratherbewriting.com/2009/10/16/forms-of-play/.
We recently started an electricity fast at my house, which means we aren’t watching any more television (no more hulu.com, basically). We’re about 5 days into the fast. At first I dreaded the absence of television, but now I appreciate the quiet. When I need to zone out and escape, I read, write, or fall asleep. I wake up earlier and I am more refreshed. I really didn’t need that TV zombie time to rejuvenate at all. Without all that time spent watching TV, I have more time to work on other projects.
Take a look at how you spend your time, especially your work time. Do you tend to spend time on frivolous items such as checking email, FaceBook, and Twitter every few minutes? Do you wander to the kitchen whenever you start to lose focus? This not only subtracts from your time but adds to your belly. Try to identify the ways you waste time, both little and big, and resolve to cut them out of your work day.