Why Routines are Important for Freelance Writers


I was just thinking about my morning routine, I call it my “morning ritual.” I wake 30 to 60 minutes before the rest of my family, make coffee, start water boiling for oatmeal, handle lunches, feed pets and open doors for those animals wishing to use the outside, lay out clothes, and more.When the family wakes, I have another routine including packing backpacks, doling out breakfast and making sure shoes and socks are on by the time the school bus comes.

I have my freelance writing routine as well.

Every day, in this order, I:

  • Check email: delete spam and junky stuff and place other mail in folders to be responded to later.
  • Check stats and revenue from my blogs from the day before.
  • Check my calendar to see how I am with deadlines and my own editorial calendar.
  • Check the social networks to see if anyone is looking for me and to say hi to my friends.
  • Blog.
  • Break for lunch at about noon for 30 minutes (unless I’m meeting the girls for lunch).
  • Blog and write, including my own projects.
  • Check on any business matters – respond to emails, deal with advertising inquiries, return phone calls, enter any accounting and, if I’m looking for work, query any interesting gigs or markets.
  • At night, I’ll start working on finding leads for the next days daily lists.

I also schedule less frequent tasks such as banking and filing.

There are a couple of reasons for my freelance writing routine:

  1. By doing the same thing, the same way every day, I don’t forget anything.
  2. I focus more when I know I have time scheduled for every task
  3. I have more respect for my time.
  4. Others have more respect for my time.
  5. I tend to put things off if I don’t write it into my daily calendar.

As freelance writers we pride ourselves on our flexibility. However, we also have to pride ourselves on our responsibility. If I don’t take care to schedule each task accordingly, and have a specific time and range assigned to each task, I may neglect something.

I’m not an organized person. At office jobs I was the girl who always had stacks of papers on her desk and reminders taped all over my cube. I’m the one who, if a project wasn’t staring me in the face, I wouldn’t get it done; out of site, out of mind.That didn’t work out well in the 9 to 5 world, and it certainly won’t work out for me as a freelancer. For me, it pays to be strict with my time.

The interesting thing is how out of my element I feel if I miss a scheduled task. For example, if I’m helping out at school one morning, it will throw me off for the whole day.  I love going on vacation or going away to attend conferences or other business, but I also spend a lot of time thinking about what I should be doing. I’m one of those sick people who needs a routine.

I think the most important thing about having my regular routine is how I, and others, value my time. When I sat down to type every time I had a few minutes, it was viewed as more of a hobby. Establishing business hours and times to take calls, write or file, showed me – and others – that I have a business and I’m taking it seriously.

That’s my takeaway, by the way. If you don’t respect your freelance writing business, no one else will.

What’s your routine?

You may have a different routine, but I’m willing to bet you have some sort of ritual each day. Rituals are comforting. They keep our job familiar and allow us to stay on task.

What are your routines? Do you find having a routine helps you stay on track?


3 responses
  1. allena Avatar

    I just want to comment on your mommy stuff: I do all that laying out, backpack stuff, etc in the evening before bed. Course, I’m not much of a morning person.

    Part of my routine of late has been cleaning up email and setting out calendar tasks/making a “next day” list and schedule and etc around 10:30p/11p. I feel like I get a jump on the morning.
    .-= allena´s last blog ..Forum Updated! Freelance Writing Jobs Posted in There! =-.

  2. Kenna Avatar

    I am trying to find a routine because I wear many hats. I am a mommy, educational consultant, establishing a private school, business partner, church functions and WRITER.

    Writing is the bulk of my income, so it’s very important for me to have a routine. The key to estabishing a successful routine is discovering how I can leave my writing to go handle other important stuff, come back and keep the flow of writing fresh. That is not easy; it shows in my work.

    Because it shows in my work, is why I need to establish a routine.

    Working mornings and nights seems to be best, but I rather not because sleep deprivation doesn’t help the writing either.

    The scheduling to the minutes might work best. I will give that a try. Thanks.

  3. AuroraGG Avatar

    I schedule very similar to what you do, Deb but I time slots down to the minute for every task. If I have to book an appointment, I schedule it in and then schedule the “missed work” an hour earlier in the morning or an extra later at night after the kids are in bed. If I schedule 20 minutes for a phone interview, at 18 minutes I start winding it down.

    I probably fall in to the “holy micromanagement batman! category” but once I started scheduling like this, I found that daily stress over “getting it done” was drastically reduced.

    I also realized I had a lot more “free versus wasted” time. The free time was quickly eaten up by my children and more writing. 🙂 With a good, detailed daily schedule I was able to work more (earn more) and still spend more time with the kids. It really has made my life easier, more enjoyable,and a whole lot less stressful.
    .-= AuroraGG´s last blog ..An E-Comm Buyers’ Guide to Choosing Trustmarks =-.

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