“I love deadlines,” goes the old joke, “I love the whooshing sound they make when they go past.” Meeting deadlines can be challenging for a freelance writer, usually because our brains are more wired for creativity and word-play rather than organisation, scheduling and prioritising. Many freelance writers find that time management and meeting deadlines is one of the most challenging aspects of their career. They take on a huge project and underestimate how long it will take, find themselves procrastinating until the last minute, then either asking for an extension or pulling an all-nighter to finish.
Missing deadlines, unless it is for a serious reason like an injury or a death in the family, looks very unprofessional. Also, leaving things until the last minute is very unhealthy and causes unnecessary stress. So how can freelance writers reduce their deadline-related stress and make sure that they always submit work on time? Here are a few strategies to try:
Allow Yourself More Time
First of all, you can prevent this situation by allowing yourself more time to write your content in the first place. Always give the client a generous estimate when you are telling them how long it will take to write a certain article. For example, if you receive a job on Monday and you think you could probably have it finished by Wednesday, you should let the client know to expect it on Friday.
This means that if someone interrupts your work and you can’t finish it until Friday, you are still ahead of the deadline. If all goes well and you finish it on Thursday, the client will be impressed and will think that you went above and beyond to do the project more efficiently. However, if you promise Wednesday and deliver on Thursday… you will be missing the deadline and the client will be disappointed.
Break Down the Work
It’s much easier to procrastinate on a very large project, because the thought of starting is very intimidating. You can reduce your deadline stress by breaking the project up into smaller chunks and spreading out those chunks over the time that you have.
For example, if you need to write a 20 page ebook for a client – start by blocking off an hour or two to simply do your research and compile your information. Then, don’t try to write all 20 pages in one day! Start early and write two or three pages per day. Also, don’t forget to factor in a chuck of time to read over and edit each page as well. You will find it much easier to meet the deadline if you work on a large project for a little while each day, rather than tackling it all at once.
Determine Your Priorities
If you look at your to-do-list and start with the project that will be the most fun and enjoyable, this can turn into a bad habit for getting work done on deadline. If you have something due in two days, but you are working on the project that is due next week because it is easier or more fun – you are setting yourself up for stress.
In order to meet deadlines more efficiently, it is important to organise your work by priority. If you have a lot of writing projects, it helps to keep them all on a spreadsheet and organise them by the date that they are due. That way, you can work on the most important projects which are due first – in order to make sure that they get done before your deadline. This is how the great copywriters achieve success.
Find Your Own Way of Improving your Productivity
There are only so many hours in the day and one of the main reason why freelance writers miss deadlines is because they could not finish the project as efficiently as they thought they could. If you can improve your own productivity, you can get more done in a day and be more likely to hit your deadlines. Also, you will have more time for yourself as well!
Of course, there are hundreds of ways to improve productivity and since every writer is different, there isn’t one strategy that will work for everyone. Try different tactics like writing in short bursts, listening to music, writing in different locations or getting up at a different time to see what works for you personally.
Deadlines can be stressful, but they don’t have to be when you have the right techniques to get your work done on time, every time.