I am a freelance guest blogger. I am also a parent, husband, chef and chauffeur. And I have time management issues.
Since I choose to put my duties as father and husband above anything else, my job sometimes suffered. I put my writing on the back burning, saving it until the last possible second. Then, the looming deadline (and the pressure associated with it) seemed to be right in my face. It was a terrible situation to find myself in, week after week. It definitely wasn’t the ideal condition for writing creative, inspiring, earth-shaking, witty repartee.
I decided I had two options. I could throw in the towel, ending my freelance career. Or I could suck it up and learn some time management skills.
I picked option number two.
I found ways to make the writing process more enjoyable, more efficient and ultimately more profitable. Once I honed my skills, I was able to write significantly faster too.
Are you dying to know my secrets? Well, you’re in luck. I’m feeling generous today!
Getting into the Habit
I read one time that 21 is a magic number. It takes 21 days for a routine to really become ingrained. You also have to expose a child to a food 21 times before it will be enjoyed by a discriminating palate.
To improve my writing, I needed to make it part of my daily routine. I chose a time – 4:00am – to sit and write…each and every day. In the beginning, it was difficult to follow my self-imposed rule. After awhile (probably about three weeks!), the process was completely carved in stone. I felt strange if I didn’t get up to write.
If you don’t want to write every day, fine. Write one day per week. Or two days per week. Just do it the same way every single time. Once you start saying, “Oh, I’ll sleep in today and write an extra hour tomorrow,” you’ll be in a world of hurt. While it takes a fair amount of time to establish a routine, you can destroy it with very little effort.
Paying Attention to Details
This is a very important tip. At first glance, it may seem like you are adding tasks to your day. However, on closer inspection, you will see that you are actually making life easier.
Consider the following scenarios:
Putting the kids to bed scenario #1:
The kids come home from school. You all play outside until dark. Tummies rumbling, you go inside to see what you can make for dinner. Since you haven’t been to the grocery store all week, there are very few options available. You choose the one that is least objectionable and start cooking. The kids sit down to watch TV until it is ready. Much later than you normally would, everyone sits down at the table. After scarfing down the meal with very little time for pleasurable conversation, you clear the table and clean the kitchen while your spouse helps with baths. While bathing, little Johnny remembers he has homework to do. A lot of it. He gets out of the tub and immediately gets to work. His weary eyes droop as he tries to focus on his work. Halfway through the project, you realize he left one of his books at school. Since there isn’t anything you can do about it now, you send him off to bed. He cries himself to sleep, thinking about his teacher’s reaction to his unfinished project.
Putting the kids to bed scenario #2:
When the kids get home from school, you grab their backpacks and check for homework assignments. Realizing Johnny left his math book at school, you send him back to retrieve it before the janitor locks the doors. When he gets home, you help him with his project until it is finished. Then, you all go outside to play for thirty minutes before it is time to eat dinner. Since you made a menu and bought all the groceries you would need for the week, you were able to make a stew and put it in the crockpot this morning. As the kids wash their hands, you dish the food into bowls and sit down to eat. After the kitchen and the kids are cleaned up, you all go to the living room to relax. You read the children several stories before tucking them into bed.
Which situation is more pleasurable? I don’t know about you, but I would rather have scenario number two. For those of us who are caught in a whirlwind life and option one seems like the only way to live, it is hard to believe option number two is possible. It is, though. All it takes is a little attention to details.
Your blog writing is the same way. If you plan ahead, anticipate possible stumbling stones in the writing process, and correct for them, there is no reason why you can’t fall into bed at night totally content.
Combining the Two Elements
Now, it is time to put the two pieces together. You need to have a routine that addresses all the details of the writing process. Here is how you do it.
- Get organized. How many blogs do you write for? Do they have submission deadlines? If so, write them on your calendar. If not, make your own deadlines.
- Create a topic storehouse. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat staring at a blank computer screen, hoping inspiration will strike. Let me tell you, it never strikes when I want it too. Instead of waiting for a genius idea to come to me, I went looking for it. Each time I came across an interesting topic on the internet, I copied the URL into my database. When it was time to start writing, I already had an idea ready to go.
- Getting rid of distractions. Before you start writing, give everyone around you a heads up. Let them know you don’t want to be disturbed. Then, turn off your cell phone and close your email.
- Write without stopping. Let your thoughts flow from your brain to the screen. Don’t interrupt the flow by fixing typos, adjusting punctuation, or checking facts. All that can be done later.
- Edit and fact check only when you are finished writing. Once you have gone all the way from introduction to conclusion, go back and evaluate what you’ve written. Do all your fact checking at once. Fix all your grammar, spelling and punctuation errors in one fell swoop.
- Add the finishing touches. Before you publish your post, take a few moments to add some pizzazz. Images and videos can greatly enhance a blog post. However, their selection can take a great amount of time. Don’t get distracted by other relevant videos. Don’t spend hours searching for the perfect image. Choose media files that will complement your writing and then move on.
What You Can Expect
When you first implement this strategy, you can expect the entire process to take about an hour. However, you should note the actual task of writing shouldn’t be more than 15 or 20 minutes. Eventually, you’ll find the writing segment of the schedule will demand the most time; all the other tasks can be reduce to mere moments once you hone the applicable skills.
Give this concept a try and then let us know what you think. When you started to pay attention to detail, did you find ways to save time? What step of the process takes the most time for you? Writing? Editing? Adding images/videos? If you know of a tip we left off the list, please let us know!