To continue with the theme of my Freelance Writing Guide For New Freelancers series I’m going to write about time management today. The Pareto Principle guidelines state that 20% of results are achieved with 80% of unfocused effort. This means that the remaining 80% of results will be generated with only 20% of the effort.
Obviously the more concentrated effort we put into our work, the more we will achieve.
The trouble with this conversion is that most of us grapple with the pitfalls of time management. It isn’t easy to juggle family, job, business, friends and fun and most people are way out of balance.
While some of us put more energy in trying to get hold of time, others are simply letting their day unfold as it happens. Depending on what we are trying to achieve on any given day this could be disastrous.
Business owners need to get hold of their time if they want to achieve greatness. No business will ever be successful unless there is some kind of order and structure built into the day. We can’t just amble about for the sake of doing so. When we run a business, any business, we need to plan and then execute those plans to move ahead.
If you, like so many others struggle with your own time management, you might find some helpful information within this post.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle in your quest to manage your time is to overcome the steely hold of procrastination. Procrastination is like putting shackles onto your feet and dragging them along the floor all day long.
When we fear action, we simply freeze up and nothing happens at all. One of the reasons this happens is because we either try to do too much, or else we are afraid of what we want to do.
Being afraid is human, we all are at some stages in life. The difference between those who get ahead and those who stay stationary is what they do about that fear.
How do you spend your time?
One of the best ways to beat procrastination is to determine how you spend your business day. In keeping a small activity log, you will gain valuable insights into where you are wasting time.
One thing you will have to be when you attempt this is 100% honest with yourself. It won’t work otherwise which I’m sure you agree.
When things don’t move as we want them to it is often the direct result of trying to attempt too much at the same time. I found this to be my biggest issue before I got my time management under control. I struggled for years trying to do this and that and never really got anywhere special.
Only when I started to focus on one step at the time did my time management problems disappear. Today I can honestly say that I rarely grapple with those issues again. It’s in keeping my focus crystal clear that has allowed me to move ahead in my business.
Trying to do too many things at once is a sure recipe for disaster.
What is your highest paying work? Do it first. Concentrate your efforts on the jobs that matter most to your freelance writing career and then deal with the rest. I’m constantly amazed at how many writers focus on little things, instead of prioritizing their work first.
If you have work, then deal with that first. The rest will fall into place with time and effort but without clients, you might as well go back or stay with your day job.
While Dave Navarro will kick your ass into high gear (if you let him), getting a grip on your schedule is one of the hardest things entrepreneurs deal with. It isn’t easy being resistant to distractions. Unless we stay super laser focused throughout the working day, we miss many opportunities and as a result our business will grow slower.
A personal consultation with Dave gave me many valuable insights into my destructive habits and while he suggested great tools to work with, in the end they weren’t for me.
I had to find my own rhythm, my own way of staying focused and thanks to my trusted Moleskine I finally am. I hacked it to suit my needs and it acts as a handy and useful diary to keep track of my tasks in terms of priorities.
Your time management tools
The best way to stay on top of your priorities is to use one of the many available time management tools. Whether you prefer to go electronic and geeky, or stick with your trusted notebook is irrelevant.
What matters more is that you are consistent in your approach and stick with what’s working for you. Regardless of whether you appear cool or not.
There are also a range of online applications like Remember The Milk that can do the job for you. Some writers find that they prefer a couple of management tools where others like me stick to the one and only.
Over the years of struggle I found easy is best. I used to battle with electronic organizers, zillions of online applications, a normal diary, a DMO, paper everywhere and whatever else struck my fancy at the time but have found that since I’m using my Moleskine I’m truly (and for the first time ever) totally in control of my time.
It feels great.
So, if you still struggle with the merits of time management, I suggest you give yourself a month in which you trial all the tools that strike your fancy right now and then decide on one and run with it.