Friday, March 26, 2010

Overwhelmed With Writing: A Few Strategies To Manage Your Freelance Projects

As I am sure most you would agree, being busy working  isn't that much of a problem - especially in this economy. The troubles comes when you're too busy to keep up with everything you start feeling overwhelmed with your projects. Freelance writing is certainly no exception. Most of you have experienced the feast or famine phenomenon right? One month you're barely got enough going to make ends meet, then the following month you take in so much that you don't know what to do with it all.

Now, being overwhelmed doesn't always happen without some decisions on your part. You're the one calling the shots on the type of articles or other materials you're working on (for the most part). In the lean times you're spending a lot of your time hunting down leads, bidding on projects and generally seeking what you can scrape up. If these activities pan out, you may be inundated with work as a result.

Again, there is a difference between a health state of busyness in terms of the freelance writing you're doing, but if you bite off more than you can chew, the results can be distressing even disastrous. You need to keep in mind a few of the following strategies to help balance your work appropriately so you don't feel so overwhelmed.

Get On With It

This is a no-nonsense point but it is also an approach that will help you maximize the time you have so you can make that big work load manageable. This is all about productivity and getting things done. You can do a number of things to streamline your work time so you're not left wondering how much time was wasted that could have been used to get an article finished or a chapter of that eBook written.

1. Limit your use of social media - Don't be wasting time checking  your facebook updates or posting tweets all day when you have things to do. These can be very addictive so watch your usage.

2. Keep email and other web surfing to a bare minimum -  Don't have more than one tab open on your browser unless they are work related. Multitasking can be the death of your productivity and can quick ratchet up the amount of stress you're feeling about all of those outstanding projects.

3. Ask close friends and family to lend a hand with non-work responsibilities while you're under the wire with your projects. If they're no longer on your to-do list, you won't have to stress about them while you should be concentrating on writing.

Reach For a Helping Hand

This is a great option if you have some writer friends who can come in and help you by taking on some of the workload. In most cases, this ends up being a sub-contracting situation. You still get paid by taking a percentage for managing the overall workflow. You may find this helpful on a regular basis when you're short on time. Many writers create a network of sub-contractors to take the edge off and relieve the stress of too many projects.

Say No

That's right. You can always say 'no' to a project - especially when you know you've already got enough as it is. It's one of the issues that afflicts us self-employed writers. We know that about the "feast/famine" cycle and we worry that if we don't take on a project, we may regret it in a week or two when things dry up again. If you are willing to tell a client 'no' it may be to your benefit. What do I mean? You might have a client who is willing to wait a bit for your services. (This is where good client relationships and repeat customers can really pay off.)

Just saying...

It is tough when you're so busy. Being busy all the time with a boatload of projects can have some detrimental effects if you're not prepared for them. Many writers experience burn out when they try to move so much volume each month. One final point that writers should take away from all of this is that it is crucial to balance your workloads and manage time effectively so you do get overloaded and overwhelmed. Be careful people. Keep writing as fun as you can while getting things done too.

If anyone has any other tips about managing your freelance writing projects, I welcome your comments.

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