If you do any freelance work, chances are you work from home. Everyone who works from home knows what distractions and challenges come with that particular work environment. When that happens, how do you meet deadlines?
Here are ten tips for meeting internal deadlines set by you and external deadlines set by an editor:
1. Reward yourself.
Darrell Etherington, a freelance writer in Toronto, Ontario, uses this method. He says, “I plan on doing something late in the day, but only once all my articles are filed.” Plan your activities or special treats as rewards after deadlines are met.
2. Set internal deadlines.
Thursday Bram, a freelance writer in Maryland does this. “I set internal deadlines for each project that are a few days ahead of external deadlines,” she says. “It gives time for last-minute changes.”
3. Give yourself enough time to get the job done.
If you have a job in progress and another opportunity comes along, be realistic about the time requirements. If you can’t get it done in the time allotted because of other commitments, pass on it.
4. Let the answering machine/voice mail answer the phone. Clients understand you cannot be available to answer the phone sometimes. Return calls when you take a break or when you finish work for the day.
5. Feed the dog, wash dishes, and check the mail before you get started.
There are many distractions when you work from home. The dog wants to be fed. The dishes are stacked up in the sink. Take care of all these things before you get started. Depending on where you live, your mail might not come until afternoon.
6. Make sure family/friends know you are on deadline and cannot be interrupted.
This is difficult if children are in the house. Family members might think this doesn’t apply to them. There will be a period of educating the people close to you that this is real work and you can’t just stop for a cup of coffee.
7. Set a minimum amount of time you have to work.
“To meet deadlines, I say I’ll only work on this article for thirty minutes,” says Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, a freelance writer in Bowen Island, British Columbia. “That turns into sixty.” Working over your allotted time is fine and helps you reach the deadline quicker, but don’t work less than the minimum time.
8. Mark time on your calendar to write/work.
Nicole Nascenzi, a freelance writer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, says, “Make a dummy deadline for yourself earlier than the publication’s and actually book time on your calendar to write.”
9. Get a writing friend to hold you accountable.
This can be a friend in the real world or online. The AbsoluteWrite WaterCooler has such an accountability factor in the Just Hit Send monthly discussions on the freelance writing board.
10. Ignore the Internet and e-mail until the end of the day. The ’Net can be a siren’s call. It’s hard to resist. Unless you’re expecting an e-mail to return interview questions to you, avoid logging on. It can be a valuable resource, but it can be a time vacuum. What you intended to take ten minutes easily turns into an hour.
These tips, and some you might discover on your own, can help you meet deadlines, whether they are internal deadlines set by you or external deadlines set by an editor.