Time Management Tips for Freelance Writers

Time management tip for freelance writers to increase productivity. Simple daily schedules for organizing your blogs and/or book using Kanban system to stay focused and become more efficient. Stop the overwhelm and try this strategy – it’s free!

Are you a busy freelance writer? No time to get everything done or just living in complete organizational chaos? Like all creative beings, we writers hate being confined to structure and order. However, if you want to boost your writing career, you might need to take on board some time management tips. After all, a bit of structure may help you complete projects and sell books! There are countless apps and systems for improving your time management techniques – so which one do you choose? Today we’ll look at Trello and see if this system suits your style and needs.

Improve your time management and productivity with the Personal Kanban for bloggers and writers from Trello.
Improve your time management with the Personal Kanban for bloggers + writers by Trello.

Are you wasting time scheduling instead of doing?

There are plenty of fancy task management and time management schemes out there. But beware! You can get suckered into all the pretty colors and find yourself writing endless to do lists that never get done! Or maybe spend more hours scheduling in your fancy calendars than you are actually working! Well stop. Let me introduce you to a no-nonsense system.

An introduction to the time management strategy from Trello

Trello, a free project management software, offers a Kanban concept to help writers just like you. You may have heard of Kanban, and think that it relates only to industry. And you wouldn’t be entirely wrong in your assumptions. Kanban is originally a Japanese scheduling system for improving manufacturing efficiency. Trello has adopted the principles of improved workflow and increased productivity and created the Kanban board. This is a system with several columns and colored Kanban cards. The cards contain tasks that you work through from left to right. This allows you to see what work you have to do, what tasks you are currently working on and what jobs you have completed. Below is a view of the minimal configuration. This “Personal Kanban” is a fantastic replacement for the old fashioned ToDo list.

This "Personal Kanban" is a fantastic replacement for the old fashioned ToDo list.
A fantastic replacement for the old fashioned ToDo list.

In Trello, a Kanban board in the minimal configuration only has three columns: “to do”, “doing” and “done”. Firstly, new tasks start in the column “to do”. They next move into the “doing” column before finally entering the last column “done” after being completed. This last column is then cleared from time to time. Basically when you decide to delete the task cards in this column, i.e. when they are done.

Advantage of this time management technique

The advantage of the “Personal Kanban” compared to a classic ToDo list is that you get a visual display of your workload. This makes it clear what limits you can impose on yourself. While only one card should be in the “doing” column at any given time, you can make the “to do” column of your Kanban board as wide and tall (or as narrow and flat) as it makes sense for you. For example: If you have a lot of work to do on a day-to-day basis, you may be able to cope with 20-30 task cards in your “to do” column, but for larger tasks, each lasting between a few hours and several days, you will want to keep the maximum number of tasks lower.

How to apply the time management strategies from Trello to your work as a blogger

This principle, can be easily transferred to the writing of books or blogging.

If you want to management your “production” and publishing of posts or article for your blog using a Kanban board, it could have the following columns

  1. Ideas for blog posts
  2. Planning / research
  3. Write post
  4. Revision, edit
  5. Publish

You can split columns 2-5 into “active” and “done”. This would give your board nine columns

  1. Ideas for blog posts
  2. Planning / research
  3. Planned/researched
  4. Write post
  5. Post written
  6. Under review, being edited
  7. Revised, edited
  8. Publish
  9. Published

Of these eight columns, only columns 2, 4, 6, and 8, which I marked bold in the list, are “active” columns. The other five columns are buffer columns – a cushion, so to speak.

How you then use the “buffer” system

If you have a new idea for a blog post, make a note of it on a card that appears in the Blog Post Ideas column. Once you tackle one of these ideas, it will go through columns 2-9 in turn. Each “active” column (plan / research, write, revise and publish) is followed by a “buffer column” in which the cards are collected, ready for the next step.

Just like in the manufacturing industry, you can apply the principles of Kanban for your “stock” of ideas. In other words: getting yourself what you need and stocking up on supplies is running low. Example: if you want to post a new blog post next Saturday, take one from column 7 (“revised”), schedule it on your blog (active column 8) and then move it to the final column (“published”).

Effective time management technique for freelance writers and bloggers. Using the Kanban system from Trello will help you stay organized, become more productive and efficient, so you can get your masterpiece finished!

Now, if you notice that there are no more blog posts in the “revised” column for the next week, get one of the articles in the “post written”, but that has not been edited yet from column 5, and then start editing it.

Keeping a clear overview of your schedule

The advantage of using such a Kanban board is that you can see at a glance what you should work on first. If you run out of stock in a “buffer column”, you should top it up first. Since this naturally reduces the stock of the preceding buffer column, this sometimes creates a chain reaction or a domino effect.

However, you are always on the safe side with this method and can bring forward a new, ready-to-use blog post whenever you need it.

If you also focus on different topics in your blog and you want to present these in a balanced a way as possible, you can also take advantage of Trello’s color coding system. This gives you a visual of whether you are giving to much focus on one topic if there are too many green tasks for example – or if you are keeping the balance

How the time management tips from Kanban can be applied for authors + novelists

The Kanban principle can be applied not only for bloggers, but also for book authors. Of course you can not simply transfer the system 1: 1 – one card per book would be neither helpful nor clear, especially since most authors are working on just 1 to 2 book projects at the same time.

Novelists and authors need to create a separate Kanban board for each book project.

You dedicate one card to each scene/chapter (or section, if you write non-fiction). To avoid losing track of the structure of your book, you can place the sequential number of each scene or section on each card. This allows you to sort and / or group them in the right order in each buffer column.

The columns of the Kanban board will be similar to those used by bloggers

  1. Ideas for book
  2. Planning / research
  3. Planned/researched
  4. Write scene/section
  5. Scene/section written
  6. Under review, being edited
  7. Revised, edited

There may of course be more columns depending on how many times you intend or need to edit your work. The last column contains the scenes / sections that are already completely revised, meaning they are edited to the extent that they can be considered ready for publication.

With the Kanban board you can see at a glance how far you have progressed with your book project and how much work is still to be done before the complete manuscript is ready for publication.

A bonus and relief for your creative side in all this structure and organization

   With the Kanban board, you do not have to write your book in chronological order or edit it from page 1 to 300. Instead you can jump back and forth between the scenes or sections according to your mood. Just bear in mind that if you do not write or edit your book in the order in which it will be read later, you will have to go back through the entire manuscript from start to finish to make sure that the order is correct and flows. For example, check that the transitions between the scenes / paragraphs are fluent and not choppy

Time management tips for when to schedule your work

It goes without saying that your levels of energy and therefore productivity vary at all times of the day. Personally, I like to write in the morning when I’m still untarnished from the onslaughts of the day. However, I like to do my planning and research in the late afternoon when I am feeling least creative. And finally I reserve my evenings mainly for editing my work. With the Kanban system from Trello, it does not matter if you want to write, plan or edit something at a certain time. You can simply pick out the respective chapter/section of the book you are currently working on from your Kanban board.

Don’t forget it’s a FREE time management tool

Yes! The Trello Kanban board system is permanently free of charge – and not just the minimal configuration with 3 boards, but the whole caboodle:

  • Any number of Kanban boards, which can even be organized in groups
  • The columns of the Kanban boards can be adjusted and expanded as it suits you
  • Any number of Kanban cards in different colors
  • Kanban cards can contain texts, pictures, checklists, hyperlinks and even file attachments

  So why not give it a go! You might find that the Trello Kanban method is the right method for you to finally get your masterpiece finished or stop feeling overwhelmed with your blog.

Trello has adopted the principles of improved workflow and increased productivity and created the Kanban board. The modern ToDo list. Improve your efficiency with this tried and tested method.

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