Friday, April 17, 2009

By the Project or by the Hour?

What did you think of when you saw this heading? Many of you freelancers out there likely thought I was talking about how to bill clients on writing or editing. I will save that for another day because today I want to focus on something much more critical to the success of your writing business than invoicing...

Time Management.

The end of March I taught a 1 hour webinar on time management to a business group, PVN. [It is available On Demand at this Link.] One of the things I talked about was the beeper system. This is a great way to keep you on task during the day by allotting a specific amount of time for each task [like research or emails]. I find this works particularly well for people who have a tendency to get off track. I have also used it a great deal to help me keep my day moving forward. It gives me deadlines throughout the day.

But I've been experimenting with my time managment and I've found something else that is helping me even more, that is being project based. Since I have clients that I work with on teaching, coaching, and editing this works particularly well for me. I close down my email and other windows and focus on one project when I first arrive in the office. I do not open a single email until that project is done. After I complete it my "reward" is to go on the email for about 30 minutes to clean out my box, delegate tasks to my assistant, respond to various questions, etc.

Then my email "Task" is done and I move on to the next project. I just began this week doing it this way and I've seen an increase in the productivity on larger projects. In fact, the way I set up my day has completely changed. If you'd like to imitate my model here is what it looks like:

In office, check email to be certain blogs posted as scheduled and download any new editing projects. No more than 30 minutes on this.

Tackle big project #1. Usually this will be 2-3 hours of work.

Email check. I now have 30 minutes to go through email like I did at the start of the day.

Tackle an hour of smaller projects.


Tackle big project #2. Usually this will be 2-3 hours of work.

Email check and to-do list for next day.

I have found that I'm better able to focus on a project when I'm doing it start to finish. When I have a series of small projects it is easier to work a 50min/10min in a cycle but doing that with a large project [like editing chapters of a client's MS] because too distracting to me.

The point of this blog is not to say one way is better than another but rather to offer you a few suggestions so you can find the system that works the best for you. The key is to increase our productivity so we can spend less time at work OR the same amount of time at work but with a better return on time invested.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Common-sense money management is free at The Balanced Life website.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.
She writes a blog for the Christian writer Tuesdays at Writer's Rest.

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