Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Remembering The Importance Of Deadlines

One of the bottom line facts of freelancing is the deadline. There's really no avoiding it. Now, if you have had trouble with meeting deadlines in the past at your other job (or jobs if missing them meant a job search), then you should think hard about whether freelance writing is a good fit. On the other hand, may be you're the type who did well with clear directives from your 9 to  5 job, but you're having difficulties adjusting to doing your own thing.

Deadlines will make or break your career aspirations as a freelance writer. If you get into the habit of missing them, you may have a lot of trouble getting back on track. If you work at home you have to overcome all the inevitable distractions and you have to be motivated to sit still and do the work. Procrastination is lurking around every corner waiting for the chance to waylay you and leave you with another missed delivery date for whatever it is you're working on. Seriously, do your best not to fall into this trap. It may ruin whatever reputation you've been trying to build as a freelance writer and leave you with few chances to be successful.

When you remember the importance of deadlines and respect them, you are showing that you respect the time and needs of your clients. Never forget that. Sure, there is some personal satisfaction involved in making the delivery date on a consist basis. It get you praise from some clients and serve as a mark of your professionalism.

What Can You Do To Make Deadlines

These are some pretty good tips, I think. Perhaps, they're good enough that I should be using as regularly as the rest of my fellow writers. I don't always do this. It's good to take my own medicine sometimes. (I will be going over these individual points in more depth in subsequent posts, but here they are briefly stated.)

1. Know When You Perform The Best As A Writer. Every writer knows that there is a certain part of the day when their performance is at its peak. For some it is early in the morning, while others work in two to three-hour blocks. You may even be one of the few that work better at night after the house quiets down.

2. Make A Schedule And Stick To It. That's right folks. Do whatever you can to set a real schedule for getting things done daily. Now, I know you'll probably quote you different distractions and reasons for why schedules are notoriously hard to keep, but just stop yourself and really look at what you can do to keep a schedule. Give it a serious effort first.

3. Use Tools To Keep Track Of Your Work. Whether you're writing down on a piece of paper, on a white board, of using some bit of productivity software to do it, you will need to keep track of the various projects, schedules, and deadlines you have outstanding. When you start working on multiple projects, it is easy to lose track of it all when you don't have a method. Try a few different approaches to see what one works best for you.

4. Don't Overload Yourself With Work Commitments. It's often when that edge of desperation kicks in that you may take on too many projects in order to meet your monthly budget. Then again, you may also take on a project that ends up being more work than you thought. Be careful here. You need to have realistic expectations about whether you can accomplish all the work on time.

5. Keep Your Client "In The Know." Don't play the silence game. Not ever. You have a responsibility to keep you client (or project leader) in the know at all times. This sets them at ease and keeps you accountable to the tasks that need to be completed according to schedule.

6. Keep Your Family "In The Loop" About Your Work Demands. This may be the hardest one to practice if you work out of your home. It is hard to establish necessary work boundaries especially when you have kids. They don't always understand your need to sit in a room for a good portion of the day typing on a keyboard. If you choose to work at night, you may have to work things out with your spouse. No matter the situation, it is advisable talk to your family members about your current deadlines and schedule so they can be respectful of your time constraints.

In Closing...

There's a lot of material that could be written about each of these six points, so I am going to do that. I know that many of you are trying to implement some of these in your own work lives. What luck are you having? Are encountering similar problems or obstacles? I'd love to hear about your successes and failures. They are all opportunities for improvement, friends. Remember that.

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