How to Find More Time for Your Web-Writing Business
A lot is said about time …
Time flies. Don’t waste time. Time is money.
But, we tend to go through life forgetting how valuable time really is, until we need more of it.
For a web writer, finding more time is a constant battle — especially if you’re a beginner, or if you’re trying to juggle a full-time job, your new web-writing business, your family, and everything else on your plate.
Even when you’re finally able to quit your full-time job to focus solely on your web-writing business, time management can still be a struggle. You’ll be better off if you understand how to manage your time to increase your income.
Because time management is one area I still struggle with, I posted a question on the AWAI forums to learn from the wisdom of others. I asked:
What techniques and tips do you guys use to either manage your time or save time?
I got a lot of great responses I think can help you, too, and I’ll share those in just a moment. But first, I’d like to share a point from Clarke Echols. He said:
“You can't manage time … You can only plan and manage your use of time.”
Those are wise words we should all remember when thinking about time management.
With that in mind, here are my “use of time” management tips — as well as several from the AWAI members in the forum:
1. Escape The Office
The best thing I ever did to save myself several hours each day was to negotiate with my boss to allow me to work from home. I immediately gained two hours per day for my web-writing business. Those hours were previously wasted in a commute.
If you have a job that doesn’t actually require your presence in the building, you can initially start small by asking to work just a few days from home …
My first few days working at home were a bit of a fluke. I needed to call in sick, but didn’t want to miss the pay. Because my job could be done at home, I asked if I could work at home for a few days instead of taking the time off. Then, I worked extra hard to be more productive than usual.
Little by little, I asked for more time working at home and less in the office. After several months of working at home a few days here and there, I had a conversation with my boss about how I could be more productive if I worked at home all the time. We started with a trial of a few weeks and eventually I transitioned completely.
If you’re looking to work from home and need more advice on how to make it happen for you, I recommend “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss.
2. Manage Your Email … Instead of Letting it Manage You
This tip comes from Sarah Clachar. She said, “I keep an Action file for my email so I can put all my ‘to respond’ emails in one place until I can give them full attention.”
This is a great tip and I also have a similar system. I mark emails that require an action with “Task,” “Task-Reply,” or “Task-Read.”
I answer my “Task-Reply” emails in batches twice a day. For the “Task” emails, I review and prioritize or complete them in batches once per day. I sort the “Task-Read” emails and block time to read them a few times per month.
Email management is personal and often requires a different system for everyone, but it’s something that every web writer should spend some time working on.
If you use gmail, here’s an additional tip you might like:
You can add “+anything” (without the quotes) after your username to more easily create email filters. For example, if my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, I can sign up for a newsletter using email@example.com. Later, I can filter all messages that come to that email address into a “Newsletter” folder.
Another possible use is managing who is selling or giving away your information. If you use firstname.lastname@example.org and something comes to that address, but not from the correct website, you'll know they shared your info.
3. Type Faster
Here’s another wise tip from Clarke Echols, he said, “Get really good at typing. 50-70 words per minute. That saves a COLOSSAL amount of time.”
You can take a free typing test online at http://www.typingtest.com/ and, if you type faster than average, it will show you how many hours per day you save. My test results told me I save 6 hours for every 10 hours I type.
If you want to become a faster typist, you might try http://keybr.com/ or, one of my favorite tools, Dragon Dictate.
Dragon Dictate is speech recognition software that types what you say. It’s much faster than typing, but it does require some training.
In my opinion, it’s well worth it.
4. Take Breaks
Taking breaks may seem counter-productive because for every second you’re taking a break, you’re not working. But, the longer you work without a break, the more you slow down and become less efficient.
Sarah Clachar posted another one of my favorite productivity tips. She said, “I take breaks a la Eugene Schwartz (every 30 minutes or so) so that I work harder and with more focus when I'm working. I also work standing up mostly so I get a little more movement into my day. Some of the specifics of my techniques as related to fitness I've put here: www.yourhealthyhomebiz.com.”
With the Eugene Schwartz method, you set a timer for exactly 33 minutes and 33 seconds. You work without stopping until the timer goes off. Then, you take a 5-10 minute break, get up, and move around. After your break is over, you re-set the timer and start working again.
I’ve been using this method for months and I get so much done during each session. Plus, because of the breaks, I don’t have the aches and pains at the end of the day from sitting for 8 hours.
5. Use RoboForm
Tools that save you a few seconds here and there might not seem to do much, but over a few months, they can save you a ton of time.
Diane Anderson recommended RoboForm as one of her favorite time-management tips. RoboForm is a program that automates password entering and form filling.
She said, “I save so much time with RoboForm. RoboForm is secure, the password save functions with Firefox and Internet Explorer aren't. Plus, you can use it on your other devices (iPad, iPhone) or any other computer with RoboForm everywhere. It also has a neat feature where you can go to your login list, pick the item, say Web Writer Elite Groupsite, and it will go to the site and populate the user id and password. Saves you the step of typing the URL or picking from your bookmarks.”
6. Limit Your Social Media Activities
As web writers, we tend to think the time we spend on social networks is productive because we’re scouting for new business. The truth is, if you’re not careful, you could spend all your time networking with your peers, not getting any new clients, and waste time you could be using to build your business.
I personally use a Firefox add-on called LeechBlock to limit my time spent on social media sites. After 30 minutes per day spent on Facebook and Twitter, my computer will no longer allow me to visit those sites.
This helps ensure I get in, do what needs to be done, and leave. I don’t waste time playing Facebook games or reading tweets that aren’t helpful.
If you need to stay active on social media throughout the day, but don’t have time to dedicate to it, you can use a tool called Hootsuite to ‘batch schedule’ tweets and Facebook updates.
7. Become Aware of the Difference Between Research and Distractions
I tend to get carried away with research. One minute I’m researching something for a client, and the next I’m looking at iPad cases online. I have no idea what happened, but I clicked a link that led to another and then another until I’m way off-track with no idea how I got there.
To solve this issue, I found a great tool. It’s called Read It Later. Read It Later allows you to quickly mark articles, blog posts, and websites to read later. Then, I read these while waiting in line, waiting for appointments, riding in the car, or anywhere else where a lot of people would play a game on their phone.
So, how about you? Have you tried any of the above tips? How else do you manage your use of time?
Go here to comment and share your advice with the rest of Wealthy Web Writer …
This article, How to Find More Time for Your Web-Writing Business, was originally published by Wealthy Web Writer.
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »