Being an independent copywriter can be a lonely life. As you’re not part of a big agency you spend many hours alone thinking and writing.
To some that might sound like the perfect working arrangement, but it does pose a few problems. Working alone demands discipline and vast quantities of self-motivation, so here are a few tips to help you make the most of your time.
1. Remove distractions
When you’re on your own all day it is very easy to get distracted.
People popping round (a particular problem if you work from a home office as for many, working from home means you’re available for a gossip all day, ’cause you’re at home, even though you’re in your office), ringing phones (office and home), the unfinished book on the side, even the washing and ironing can prove to be enough of a temptation to waste a few hours.
To avoid these distractions you’ll need to train friends and family to understand that although you are at home you’re working, ignore the house phone (not the office one, that could be important), forget about the laundry and keep the book out of sight.
A dedicated home office is a must. You can leave all your stuff out when you’ve finished for the day and it offers a professional environment in which to work (much better than the kitchen table). It’s also a good idea to set specific hours of work too so people know not to distract you during your working hours.
2. No Facebook
That rule only applies to your personal Facebook page, a business page is OK.
Being sat in front your computer all day makes it very tempting to break off and check out what you’re friends are up to – don’t. Leave the temptation until after your working day is over. That way you can remain focused on the projects you’re supposed to be working on.
3. Say no
It’s a small word, but one that many of us find difficult to say.
Yes, you want to be busy and have loads of clients, but unless you learn to say no you’ll become over run with work, start missing deadlines and damage the reputation you’ve worked so hard to build.
Also, if friends and colleagues want to pop round for a chat, say no if you’re busy – they won’t be offended, just pick a different time when you can fit it in. The same goes for family – even though you work from home, they must learn to respect your work time.
Decide how many hours a week you want to work and stick to it. If you don’t learn to say no you’ll end up working evening and weekends and that’s no fun for anyone.
Keeping track of your deadlines can be tricky, especially when you’re working on several projects at once.
By having a calendar on your desk you will be able to see at a glance when a deadline is looming and schedule your work commitments accordingly.
5. Daily to-do
This may sound daft but it really works.
At the end of each week I make a plan of what needs to be done the following week. That way I can make sure my blogging can be slotted around my client work and meetings. It really helps to focus the mind and make sure nothing slips through the net.
Of course it needs a certain amount of flexibility to cope with whatever comes in during the week.
If you that pop up thingy that appears on your screen every time you get an email, disable it immediately.
You’ll be distracted every time it appears, which can effect your creativity.
Limit yourself to checking your emails once or twice a day so you can work unhindered.
7. Time slots
Another great tip is to allot a specific period of time for each project on your to-do list. Once the time is up have a break (have a coffee, wander around the garden or take the dog for a walk) to refresh before starting again. You’ll find each task becomes much more manageable and you won’t run out of steam as the day goes on.
These 7 tips are just a few of the ways you can manage your time effectively when working on your own.
Do you use other techniques? If so leave a comment below.