Time Management for Freelance Writers:

Operating your own freelance writing business can be an incredibly demanding and time-consuming venture.  It is often a thankless task which includes juggling a multitude of obligations at the same time.  Competing stakeholders such as clients, friends and family are all looking for your attention.  In such an environment, a freelance writer is in a virtual battle with the hands of the clock.  Every second of the day is precious as there is so much to be done and no room for wasted minutes.  Perhaps Michael Altshuter, the noted motivational speaker and coach, said it best when he remarked:

The bad news is time flies.  The good news is you are the pilot.”

As a Freelance writer you need to consistently perform such tasks as writing content, and then proofread and market that content.  Those are only a few examples as the demands of the freelancer are many. Make no mistake, the inability to manage time efficiently will have a business come crashing down to the ground in very short measure.   So what is the typical freelance writer to do?  Time management is the key!  Follow along to see some top time management tips for freelance writers which can help create a pinpoint focus, and virtually claw back those minutes.

hard tasks firstfor time management

Completing the hardest tasks first is an excellent way freelance writers fan manage their time.

1.  Complete Your Hardest Task First:

This is included as the number one tip because it could very well be the most valuable.  It is human nature to avoid the tasks which we dislike.  Freelance Writers will look for any reason or excuse not to do them and primarily occupy themselves with finding something else to do.  What we really end up doing however is completely wasting time as we put all their effort into avoiding the task at hand.  By forcing ourselves to tackle the hardest jobs first, we will be completing these tasks when we have the most energy.  This will very likely not be the case later on in the day.  What will happen in turn is a feeling of accomplishment and renewed excitement to tackle the next job.  After all… If you could get that job done, then nothing can stand in your way now!  Completing the hardest tasks first is an excellent tip for all freelance writers.

Organized work space

An organized work space is a great way for freelance writers to manage their time effectively.

2.  Organize Your Work Space:

There are not too many freelance writers out there who want to spend their time organizing our work space.  If feels like a giant waste of time.  However, if we were to calculate the actual amount of time which is wasted looking for that “special book” or critical research notes in a disorganized work environment, the results would be staggering.  This is simply lost time which can never be recovered and yields very few rewards.  Notwithstanding, by setting up a carefully organized and minimalistic work area, this trend can be stopped dead in its tracks.  It is important to only include the items you really need, and not clutter the area.  By organizing the work area in a way whereby everything is properly labeled and in its designated spot, precious minutes can be recovered.  Organizing work space is one practical tip which will help the freelance writer actually produce valuable content instead of participating in a daily scavenger hunt.

daydreaming writer

If you want to have effective time management as a freelance writer then you need to stop making excuses.

3.  Stop Making Excuses:

Human beings are very good at making excuses.  Freelance writers are in particular quite adept at this.  Instead of buckling down to work, we can manage to waste an entire day on Twitter and justify it as marketing in our head!  However, a good quote to remember comes from Tyrese Gibson:

“Excuses sound best to the person making them up.”

If you are spending quality working time creating excuses and coming up with reasons to do something else… then nothing will ever get done.  Washing the dishes or reading that article by your favorite author can wait.  They are simply excuses which are preventing you from finishing the task at hand.  To be a successful and efficient freelance writer means you have to stop making excuses and just write!

Avoiding distractions is a great way to manage your time as a freelance writer.

4.  Avoid Distractions:

There is no doubt that distractions from your freelance writing work will come in all kinds of ways.  Checking your emails, answering your phone, surfing social media and even catching up on the latest episode of Game of Thrones!  They all have one thing in common – they are preventing you from accomplishing your goals.  To minimize distractions it is critical to find a quiet, solitary space and disconnect from the world and your devices!  Avoiding distractions is a great way to manage your time as a freelance writer.

Creating lists can help you manage your time as a freelance writer.

5.  Create “To Do” Lists:

There is something very fulfilling about creating a list of the various tasks which you need to complete, and then being able to cross them off that same list when finished.  It also has the added bonus of keeping you focused and on target to accomplish the predetermined freelance writing tasks for the day.  Never underestimate the power of the “to do” list when trying to manage your time as a freelance writer.

prioritize your work as a freelance writer.

Prioritization of work is a must for you if you are trying to manage your time efficiently as a freelance writer.

6.  Prioritize:

There are no guarantees in life…except for the fact that it is virtually impossible to check everything off of your “to do” list in one day!  That is why it is so important to prioritize your time.  If there is a writing assignment which needs to be completed by the end of the day, that should take priority over something which is due a few days from now.  Those writers who do not learn how to prioritize their tasks and time will find themselves with very unhappy clients.  Prioritization of work is a must for you if you are trying to manage your time efficiently as a freelance writer.

just say no carved into a tree.

Learn to say no in order to manage your time efficiently as a freelance writer.

7.  Learn to Say No:

If everything goes according to plan, you will eventually reach a point where your freelance writing business has more demands than you can possibly handle.  This is where it becomes very important to learn how to say no.  Complete your most valuable work first.  This will tend to be with your most trusted and established clients.  This is the group who you want to keep happy and satisfied as they are the core of your business and will continue coming back to you if you deliver results.  I you over promise and under deliver, your freelance writing business will begin to develop a poor reputation and the work will begin to dry up and disappear.  Learning to say no is an excellent strategy to manage your time as a freelance writer.

Set your work hours and schedule your day.

Set your work hours and schedule your day.

8.  Set Defined Work Hours and Schedule Your Day:

Running a freelance writing business can frequently be very unpredictable.  You will go through very busy periods and also times when work seems to have all but dried up.  As such, it can be very difficult to predict work hours and create set schedules.  However, do not fall into the trap of only working “when you feel like it.”  It is important to try and set defined work hours with a set schedule and plan.  Things may not always unfold according to plan, but completing it will nonetheless give you a focused outline to follow.  There can be little doubt that setting defined work hours is an excellent method to help you manage your time as a freelance writer.


Undoubtedly, running a business as a freelance writer can be a very intimidating, confusing and overwhelming experience.  However, by utilizing effective time management strategies, one can begin to see all the puzzle pieces fall into place.  It is also very important to realize that all these tips and strategies have a strong focus at the core.  Schedule and plan, but always do so in a focused way with your overall goals targeted with laser-like precision.  If so, this could truly only be the beginning of much greater things to come.


First Things First.  By Stephen Covey

20 Quick Tips for Better Time Management.  By Celestine Chua

The Skinny on Time Management.  By Jim Randel