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Freelance Writer and Time Management

Every morning I make a list of what needs to be done that day and about how much time it will take. When I totaled up today’s task I discovered that I only had 26 hours of work and errands to do. I may have bit off a little more than I can chew.

It’s not the first time. I’m notorious around my home for making lists that are longer than the day allows. It drives my husband a bit crazy – not that I do it for that reason. He HAS to have everything checked off. I just want to see what has to be done and how far I can get toward completing it all.

The smart thing to do would be to cut back on my list – which I will end up doing just not on paper. But I always aim to complete the list no matter how impossible it might seem to the ordinary person. I’m not normal and the peculiar side of me likes to do things a little bit different.

    1. Make the list according to importance. If I get the Must Do’s out of the way first then there is time to tackle the other tasks.

    2. Never fear. No matter how many items fill up the to-do list or how much time is required, it all comes back to doing what you can do and just not worrying about the rest.

    3. Flip the page. At the end of the day (or first thing the next morning for me) I just push the unfinished projects up the list, add any new ones and then print out my new to-do sheet.

    4. Mix it up. This is especially important for me when I have large written projects that need to be completed. I need to mix in some small stuff (like blog posts) to keep the creative juices flowing.

    5. Get moving. There are always tasks that need to be done around the house or outside the house. When it comes time for a break from writing I use that time to pick up a little, do a couple of chores or start a meal. Getting a little done here and there helps to chip away at the list.

    6. Do a little dance. There is always room for fun no matter how crowded the day may get. When I need a break I will take a walk, turn up the music and dance, put in a workout tape (yes, working out is fun to me – most days), or just go outside and play with the kids. A smile can go a long way towards motivating me to get back to it.

    7. It’s just stuff. The world will not end if I don’t complete my to-do list. Yes, there is the possibility that I could lose a job, lose some readers or miss an opportunity, but the world will not end. There will be more jobs, more readers and more opportunities tomorrow. Getting this one concept can mean the difference between a stressed filled life and a joy filled life.

I admit that I over do it most days. But that’s just part of who I am. I have learned to keep my lists away from my husband so that I don’t stress him out too much. The challenge of a full day helps motivate me to do more, to do it better and to do it consistently. One of these days I will manage to get 26 hours of work done in one day (and I will also discover the secret to getting the grocery store to pay ME for shopping with them).

Told you I wasn’t normal!

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  • Given a series of unfortunate events, I am currently living on a farm in Northeast Nowhere. You want to see a to-do list??

    Yesterday I had a writing project that had to be completed by noon, and I wasn’t happy with the “final” draft, so I was doing last minute revisions. Then a neighboring farmer called to say we’d be getting our first snow of the season come nightfall. It was all-hands to get the chicken coop weatherproofed before the precipitation hit. What could I do?

    Well, I had to call my client and tell him the truth – he couldn’t have the article till COB, instead of noon. I HATE doing that, but chickens take priority. That’s my new motto, btw! “Chickens Take Priority.” I bet it sounds great in Latin.


  • Hi Kathryn –

    It’s strange, but the longer my to-do list, the more productive I am. I almost never get through it, so things get pushed to another day.

    Someone suggested using Outlook. Personally, I prefer pen and paper. (Say that 10 times fast!)


  • Wendy – been there, done that – just not the chicken thing 😉 For me the more I have to get done then the more things are going to come up to keep me from getting done.

    Susan – Somedays my to-do list helps and some days it is just a piece of paper sitting next to my stack of work. Guess which one it is today. 😀