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Busy doesn’t mean productive for a freelance writer

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As a freelance writer, there are a lot of tasks you’ll need to do. It’s time to step away from the mentality of being busy means productive.

“I had such a busy day.”

This is something I used to hear a lot. In fact, it’s something that I’ve said in the past. Through the hardest parts of growing my business as a freelance writer, I would regularly tell my ex-husband that I had a “busy” day. And I did.

I was constantly on the go. Didn’t even have time to stop and eat some days.

I had nothing to show for my busy day, though. I hadn’t worked on the projects I should have. My time was spent doing the wrong things. It’s taken a huge mental shift to realize that busy doesn’t mean productive.

Step away from the unproductive tasks

Do you ever look through your emails and realize that most of them have nothing to do with your work? Or they may be emails that will help you as a freelance writer, but now is not the best time to read them.

It’s important to look at the tasks that are unproductive during your workday. You want to spend time on the most productive tasks—the ones that accomplish the goals you’ve set. Your goals could be to add new clients or you could have a project you keep putting off.

You’ll need to tackle the unproductive tasks here and there. You can’t just ignore all your emails, and you can’t stay off social media all the time. It’s important to set a timer.

I use the Pomodoro technique. I’ll set a timer for checking my emails. After all, this light work is sometimes needed to break up the bigger projects of the day. Once the timer goes off, it’s time to move back to the tasks that will help me accomplish my goals.

Set out the tasks to accomplish your goals as a freelance writer

You do have goals, right? Every freelance writer should have them. And you want to set SMART goals. These are the time that are specific, measurable, actionable, relatable, and timely.

Some writers will have a goal to add X new clients to their roster within a month. Others will have the goal to create their opt-in offer for their email list. It doesn’t matter what your goal is. You just need to make sure you’re working toward it. If you’re busy doing these tasks, you’re being a productive freelance writer.

Make a list of the steps you need to take to accomplish the goals. Now you can work them into your diary.

I’m a big fan of block booking or bulk planning. My morning is set up to write private client content. After that, I’ll move onto my entertainment journalism work, and then I’ll work on my blog work. After all that is done, I make sure I have an hour or so to market to new clients or other tasks so I can meet my monthly goal.

These are far more important than checking your emails—unless it is to market to clients or reply to responses. You’ll still want to add in easier tasks throughout the day, but some good bulk planning will help you manage it all.

Your productive tasks are ones that generate income in some way. It might not be immediate income, but it’s going to help generate income. Be busy doing that stuff and not all the other tasks.

How do you fit everything in? This is something you need to determine. As you add more passive income streams to your freelance writer business, you’ll find you have more time on your hands to do other tasks. But it’s time to be honest where you’re actually spending your time in your business.

MORE: How do freelance writers get paid?

What do you struggle with as a freelance writer? Which tasks do you find yourself busiest with? Share your thoughts in the comments below.