I’m a full-time freelance writer. That means that I have two or three articles due each week and I work with a variety of editors who don’t really care that I have other deadlines. They are only concerned that I meet their deadlines.
Trying to do this week after week can be daunting if you don’t develop coping mechanisms and prepare yourself.
Here are some tips that I use to meet my deadlines without losing my mind.
Break down each project to smaller pieces. For instance, when I’m writing an article, there’s research, interviewing, writing and final preparation that needs to be done. I use daily “to do” lists, so I can list a small piece of each article on the list and accomplish something for each project daily. It keeps each project moving forward.
- Set mini-deadlines. Using the smaller pieces for each article, I set dates to have each piece completed by so that I can complete the entire project with time to spare before the entire project is due.
- Build in extra time. When setting those mini-deadlines, I plan it out so that I am finished the project a few days before the entire project. This buffer time allows me time to fine tune a project or deal with any unexpected delays such as not being able to get a hold of someone I need to interview.
- Don’t take on too much. As Dirty Harry used to say, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Know what you have due around the same time each new projects you might take on would be due. Know how productive you are and what your general schedule is. There’s only so much you can do no matter how prepared you are so make sure you know how much you can handle before you take on a project.
- Go with the flow. While having little deadlines is nice organizational tool, if you find yourself in the zone with a project, don’t worry about the deadline. Just keep writing. You can adjust your deadlines later.
Juggling multiple deadlines can be tiring, but it can be done. The more deadlines you have, though, the more organized you will need to be.