Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and reading resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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« Mimi's First Sale | Main | Mimi gets writer's block »

Freelance writer time management tip: daily time sheet

A problem that occurred while my system administrator was upgrading a server on Samurai caused me major e-mail woes during the past week. I'm happy to report that my e-mail seems to be straightened out now, but unfortunately I haven't had a chance to properly research online writing communities for the column I said I'd write this week.

I'll be posting something about online communities in a future column, so you still have time to put in a good word for your favorite online community or communities for writers!

Plot For Sale

As I posted in a recent Blathering recently, I've been keeping a daily time sheet ever since I got back from my trip, and I've found that it's greatly helped increase my productivity. I created a template in MS-Word and print a weeks' worth of pages out at a time, keep them in a clipboard on my desk. After a week, I archive them in a binder.

At the top of each day, I have a place to write the date as well as my goals, both work goals and non-work goals. Examples of daily work goals: "Novel: 1200 words" and "Research markets for Italy articles." Examples of daily non-work goals: "Buy stamps at post office" and "Call back Stats Canada." Below that I have a chart where each line has a space for Start Time, End Time, Work Activity and Non-Work Activity.

I'm not suggesting you do this longterm, but I found that after two weeks' worth of detailed records of how I spend my time, I'm already learning how easy it is to feel Busy and Productive when I'm not really being productive at all, or at least not productive in terms of my writing goals. Just forcing myself to be more aware of exactly how I'm spending my time is making me readjust my work habits. The daily log keeps me focused on longterm goals as well as daily goals.

I also don't feel as guilty when I do take a break because I know that I deserve it.


I've started updating Inkygirl again, by the way. Inkygirl is an online resource for writers who work from home.

Have a good writing week, everyone!

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Reader Comments (2)

Sounds like a great system, actually. I use these virtual sticky notes that came pre-installed on my computer. That goofy little program has organized me like none of the many slips of paper floating around or stuck to the top of my desk have.

I like daily goal setting -- it keeps me on track. I have this brain that focuses on the hard stuff then whoops! I'm off to play Solitaire or look up how old Lauren Bacall is (88) or when to trim a rhododendron (after the first frost or before the last frost). It's either less caffeine or more organization, and the caffeine isn't going ANYWHERE. :)

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLori

This article can be really useful. As you said, Getting and sticking to a plan is tough to do as we have to complete all our daily stuff. I've recently started doing freelance content writing work. And it feels like I work longer hours than when I was employed. But I found out, all I need was some time management. After started using time tracking app from Replicon -, I've started being more productive while having extra time.

March 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShenoi

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