Now that your business has grown and more money is coming in, there’s one thing that may be giving you a headache as a professional writer:
How to cope with a workload that’s growing and expanding on a daily basis at an alarming rate.
Not only do you have to respond to emails, pay bills, maintain your website, manage your social media accounts, resolve technical issues, keep your books, and manage your taxes, you also need to write regularly.
Gone are the days of having lots of time for your family and friends because you now work very long hours every day, including weekends. To make matters worse, you also sleep a lot less and are mentally and physically tired most of the time.
At this point, you’re asking yourself how to:
Want to know a secret?
You can easily take care of all your business tasks, have enough time to write, and even enjoy life outside work, all without reducing your sleep.
But it takes working smarter and not harder.
A good place to start is by taking a fresh look at your daily routines so you can track what you normally do every day, identify what consumes most of your time, and decide what needs to change. You also need to think outside the box to come up with more effective ways of getting things done.
Ready to learn about habits that can yield better results?
Here are five great habits that can help you work smarter as a professional writer.
Did you know that it’s possible to write at an extremely fast pace, without typing?
You can do this through voice-to-text software.
Also called speech recognition or dictation software, it works by converting your words into text on your computer or mobile device as you speak, making it possible for you to write faster than your typing speed, even if you’re an extremely fast typist.
Some popular examples of voice-to-text software include:
With this software, you can write on the go, whether you’re moving around in your home or office or out for a walk, instead of staying glued to your chair for hours at a time.
You can also write hands-free in the case that you can’t use your hands (temporarily or otherwise) or you just need to give your hands a much-deserved rest from typing vigorously all the time to avoid repetitive strain injury like carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tennis elbow, and so on.
Bottom line, make it a habit to write with dictation software so you can boost your writing productivity and also take better care of your hands.
Not getting enough sleep on a daily basis is like shooting yourself in the foot—the negative effects will catch up with you sooner or later.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you need at least seven hours of sleep daily to function at your peak, since not only can lack of sleep make it difficult for you to focus and concentrate, it can also negatively affect your mood and temperament.
But that’s not all.
Not getting enough sleep on a long-term basis can eventually lead to memory issues, weak immunity, lapses in thinking and concentration that can cause accidents if you’re not careful, mood changes, weight gain, poor balance, and a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
To get enough sleep every day, let’s look at a few things you can do:
In a nutshell, make it a priority to get enough sleep on a daily basis so you have adequate mental and physical well-being to perform at your peak as a professional writer.
Another great habit that can help you work smarter is to identify which tasks involved in running your business that you have to handle yourself and which you can delegate.
Because writing is the core of your business as a professional writer, it makes sense to take care of all your writing tasks personally and gradually outsource other business tasks that consume a lot of your time.
So what does outsourcing look like for a professional writer?
Outsourcing simply means hiring external contractors or agencies to handle tasks that you’re not good at, or you don’t really enjoy doing, or you enjoy doing but don’t have the time to do. Even though this will cost you money, the honest truth is that not hiring help will ultimately have a negative effect on your health and business.
Some business tasks you can outsource include designing and maintaining your website, keeping your books, creating or sourcing images, preparing taxes, managing your social media accounts, editing, proofreading, and so on.
Once you’ve chosen the tasks you’d like to outsource, do some research and decide whether you need to hire an expert, an agency, or maybe all you need is a competent virtual assistant.
Based on your needs, you can find the right service by checking with your contacts, asking in your local and online communities, or by doing research online. Once you’ve identified some prospects, always remember to:
By outsourcing most of the non-writing tasks that eat up a lot of your time, you’ll have more time to write. This will also increase your productivity, efficiency, and the quality of your work without overworking yourself or putting your health at risk.
Let’s face it, working at all times of the day and night without an active life outside work is bad for your health and your life in general.
When you dedicate almost the whole day to your work, not only are you putting your personal life and relationships at risk, your physical and mental health can also become adversely affected enough to result in major health issues like stroke, fatigue, diabetes, depression, and even cancer.
One of the best ways to avoid working too much is to identify how many hours you want to work on a daily or weekly basis and stick to it. For example, maybe you want to work six to eight hours every day or even less, or maybe you’re thinking of 30 to 40 hours per week maximum so you can use the remaining hours for non-work activities.
Once you strike a good balance between work and other areas of your life, research shows that you’ll be happy at work.
On top of that, studies also confirm that you can boost your brainpower, become more resilient and confident, increase your work performance, and prevent burnout when you spend time on your hobbies and passions outside work.
All in all, make it a habit to take breaks from work and go on vacations from time to time, even if it’s a one- or two-day vacation. In addition, use your weekends for non-work activities, like spending time with family and friends, or on your passions and hobbies so you can be happy with your work and ultimately increase your work performance.
Ever heard that failing to plan simply means you’ve planned to fail?
If you don’t plan your work day in advance, you can easily fall prey to weapons of mass distraction around you such as phone calls, text messages, emails, social media, and even visitors when you work from home.
And before you know it, the whole day is gone without getting anything tangible done all day.
But with a plan, you’ll wake up in the morning and confidently hit the ground running, since you already know what needs to be done and where you have to be.
You can plan your days in advance on a daily or weekly basis, or even biweekly or monthly using a notebook, an online calendar, or whatever works for you. Also, remember to leave a few hours blank in your schedule to make room for any unplanned event or last-minute crisis that shows up suddenly.
For best results, make a list of everything you want to achieve daily and attach time to each one. Don’t forget to include all your non-work activities like going to the gym, spending time with friends or family, and enjoying hobbies so you can balance your work and other aspects of your life.
By following a schedule that’s planned in advance, you won’t have to waste time thinking of what to do next throughout your day, making it easier for you to stay focused and achieve a lot more on a daily basis.
No doubt about it, having your own business as a professional writer is more than enough to keep you busy and occupied 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
But working this way can only lead to poor health and eventual burnout.
Instead, make up your mind to work smarter by embracing useful habits like scheduling your days in advance, writing with voice-to-text software, outsourcing non-writing tasks that eat up a lot of your time, having an active life outside work, and getting at least seven hours of sleep every day.
If you find yourself struggling with any of these habits at first, there’s no need to panic. Just give yourself more time and refuse to give up because developing new habits usually takes a lot of time and effort, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
Make good use of these habits on a regular basis so you can easily keep up with all your writing and business tasks, achieve higher productivity and quality, and even maintain a solid work-life balance, all without sacrificing your health.
Sola Kehinde is a freelance content writer for hire with 10+ years of corporate business management experience. She helps businesses of all sizes create engaging blog posts, case studies, guides, tutorials and eBooks that attract and convert. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her drinking green tea, watching movies or curled up with a good book. Visit her writing portfolio here.