When I hear the word deadlines my heart skips a beat. Do you know why? It’s because I know that I have to pull out all stops, focus and work like crazy to complete any writing assignments that I’m working on.
Writers like myself need deadlines. Without having a specific date to work to, I tend to waste time. I have a million and one things to do throughout the day and night. I’ve got a family to look after, church to attend, students teach, house to manage and the list goes on. One my classic excuse is that, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Tomorrow comes and something else crops up. Then I find myself panicking and rushing around trying to fit in all the tasks I need to complete.
Can I tell you a little secret? When I was asked for my contributor post for this month, I didn’t know what to write about. I was thinking aloud and my daughter heard me. Cleverly, she came up with a brilliant topic which was really aimed at benefiting me.
She said, “Mum, why don’t you write about keeping deadlines? It will help you because you can use the ideas you share to discipline yourself.” Wow! She knows me too well.
If you’re like me who understands the meaning of deadlines but don’t implement it, this article is for you.
So let’s look at why it’s important to have deadlines.
Deadlines will take off the pressure
You can easily put yourself under stress and pressure when you’ve got a lot of writing assignments. Effective time management skills will definitely help. But setting your own deadlines within the client’s deadline works even better.
For example, if you’ve got to complete an article by Thursday 17th January, you can set your own deadline for Monday 14th January. That will give you some extra time to finish it.
You also need to bear in mind that sometimes an assignment will take longer than you planned. Emergencies can crop up and take away precious time from you. Or you could get ill in the middle of completing a writing project. But because you’ve allowed yourself that extra time, you’ll be able to relax a bit and it will take off the pressure.
See each deadline as a goal achieved
Imagine that each deadline you successfully meet is a goal achieved. That in itself will motivate you. I’m writing an eBook for a client. Although I didn’t set a deadline in the beginning, I decided to set one a few days ago as it was dragging on. My deadline was to complete the draft by Sunday evening. I didn’t realize how much I had to write. It was much more than I thought. To cut a long story short, I ended up writing till 1:00am Monday morning.
Anyway, I finished it. I was determined to meet that deadline. And I was so excited. I was able to tick off that goal. It was a great feeling of achievement.
Meeting deadlines will make you more responsible and reliable
Let’s take a look at two scenarios. Miss B is a freelance copywriter. She’s very talented, experienced and creative. She’s got great marketing skills and always manages to get clients.
However, she loves her freedom and going out with friends. So when she gets an assignment to complete, she’ll juggle that between enjoying herself and writing. Miss B usually spends hours on the phone chatting, tweeting, going on Facebook and reading her emails. She waste a lot of time on things that’s not connected to her freelance business. Therefore she ends up asking clients for extensions of deadlines. Sometimes she gets so overwhelmed with work that she’s unable to complete them.
Miss R is a new freelance writer. She’s committed, motivated and focused. Her goal is to build up a successful freelance business. Her business has grown mostly by word of mouth because of her dedication to please clients. She always meets deadlines. Even if it means working extra hours and sacrificing doing the things she enjoys.
The difference between those two ladies is that Miss B isn’t serious about her business. On the other hand Miss R is responsible and reliable. Not only is that preferred by clients but it also makes her a professional in her field.
Below are 5 tips to help you meet deadlines:
- Organize yourself and make a list of all your projects. Write the deadlines beside each one. It’s a good idea have them written on a wall planner. Place it where you can easily see it. Tick off each project as you complete them.
- Break down your projects into small manageable chunks. If you’ve got a big research project to complete, you might find it easier to take it step-by-step. Another tip is to work on the easiest part first. Leave the hardest, most time-consuming part for last.
- Keep your client updated as you complete each part of the project. If you’re writing an article, send the draft for approval before writing the final piece. By doing that you’ll keep on top of things and see real progress.
- Don’t take on more work than you can handle. If you do, it will be hard to meet deadlines. Set a limit to the amount of work you accept to make sure that you don’t let clients down.
- Make a daily timetable and stick to it. Freelance writing is your job. So treat it like a job. Be just as committed to it as you would for a day time job. You’re your own boss so you must learn to discipline yourself. Deadlines are necessary so that you can complete projects and move on to the next ones.
Deadlines can force you out of your comfort zone. It will push procrastination out of your life. When you know you have a deadline to meet in order to make money to pay your bills, you’ll meet that deadline. It could mean that you may have to stay up late sometimes. Or cut yourself off from family and friends for a while. But at the end of the day, professionalism is a must if you want to become a successful freelance writer.
June Whittle is a blogger and freelance writer. She has two personal blogs that she manages and writes for. Please stop by my main blog to find out some more about me.
How do you make sure you meet deadlines? Please share your tips in the comment box below.