Time management strategies that improve rather than hinder your author business are key in the start-up phase.
Starting an author business is exciting. You’re writing stuff you’re excited about. You’re learning new business skills (hopefully), and connecting with people who want to learn from you.
Where things might come unstuck is when life gets in the way… you know what I’m talking about!
The kids need new shoes, so you have to take them shopping after school.
A few of your work friends have organised a night out, so you’ve gotta go to that.
Then there’s the family function this coming weekend…
Starting an author business as a side hustle IS exciting, but it’s also gonna take up some of your time, which is why you need to have some pretty powerful time management strategies in your arsenal so you don’t fall flat on your face in a major way like I did when I first got started.
When I started my writing side hustle, I was still working a full-time job. I was also studying part-time and learning all about how to write for SEO (search engine optimisation).
On top of that, I was in a new relationship (= all consuming!), my nephew had just been born so I was spending loads of time with him, gobbling up his cuteness — trying to fit in my side hustle around all of this was more than a little crazy.
The shit hit the proverbial fan about 4 months into my side hustle author business…
I missed an important meeting at work.
Then I dropped the ball with my sister in helping out with my baby nephew… worst aunty ever!
Don’t make the same mistakes I did.
Implement the following time management strategies and avoid making these same mistakes and save yourself time, money, and heartache…
5 Time Management Strategies for Authors
#1: Batch your tasks
This is probably my fav strategy of all!
If you want to take control of your time, put all of your tasks into batches, instead of trying to multi-task everything and failing…
I’m a huge multi-tasker myself (I’m often writing a blog post while putting the washing on, jumping up to deal with the dishwasher… stupid stuff!), but when you’re just starting a business, you’re trying to find a balance—you might find that multitasking is actually doing more harm than good.
So here are a few pointers on how this might work for you:
- Got a busy week ahead? Do all your cooking for dinners Sunday night and freeze those meals. It’s far easier (and quicker) to heat something up than waste money on takeaways…
- Cat the train or bus to work? Take the time to read up on your skill or author business tactics. Listen to podcasts, read blog posts, learn new skills while commuting to your day job (slightly multitasking, but in a good way!).
- Schedule your author business tasks into your calendar. When you’re working on those tasks, get rid of distractions… ask your significant other to watch the kids if needed, or better yet, hit your local cafe.
#2: Use focused time
If you want to make sure that you’re doing a great job, it pays to really focus on what you’re doing. This will benefit you in both your day job and your author business.
When I first started out, I found myself easily distracted while working on my author side hustle.
This was partly because I wasn’t used to working from home, and partly because I was allowing myself to get distracted by emails, Facebook notifications, Twitter chats and Pinterest boards…
I quickly learned that if I was going to be successful in my business, then I’d have to figure out how to make the most of the (limited) amount of time I had available.
There are a couple of different techniques you can use to ensure you’re doing ‘focused time’:
- Use the Pomodoro method. Essentially, you set a timer for 25 minutes, which is when you’re working. Then you get a 5-minute break before the next 25-minute block of focused time starts. I used this when I first started writing and it trained my brain to just focus on one task during that 25-minute block.
- Similar to the method above, I now use an app called Focus@Will. This allows you to set a timer and choose music or sounds that will help keep you focused. They have a lot of research and science behind the app, with the music options available designed to keep your brain focused on the task at hand. At the end of each time block, you’ll hear a ding, which signals you to take a break.
Since implementing and trying both of these techniques, my brain is now trained to focus on what I’m doing in those time slots.
For me, I found that the Focus@Will app worked best. My brain is now trained to slip straight into focus mode when certain music is being played via the app.
I especially use this app when I’m writing, as it helps me stay focused and stops me from checking Facebook or my emails!
#3: Utilise apps to automate tasks
When you’re starting out in your author business, you’re doing everything yourself.
This can quickly snowball and turn into something much larger than you might have been anticipating.
There are a lot of apps that you can use to help automate as many tasks as possible in your author business, particularly when it comes to things like social media management, tracking expenses, and connecting with your audience.
Here’s a quick rundown of the apps I use in my own full-time author business that has helped me to automate a lot of my business related tasks:
- Social Media Management: I use a combination of Buffer and CoSchedule to manage my social media accounts. I use Buffer to curate and source content to share with my followers and I use CoSchedule to reshare my blog posts so that they are being seen by new readers.
- Invoicing and Expense Tracking: I use Freshbooks to keep track of income and expenses (a lot of expenses are recurring, so I don’t have to keep entering them!) as well as set up invoices (again, a lot are recurring, a simple setting in Freshbooks takes care of this) to go out auto-magically. I set them up once and then Freshbooks manages the rest!
- Connecting With New Readers: There are two ways that I approach this, 1) I use ConvertKit to create my weekly newsletter, which goes out to all subscribers and always includes links to the latest blog posts and 2) I use a WordPress plugin called Postmatic, which sends an email to people who have subscribed to receive new blog posts direct to their inbox (you can see the sign up form at the bottom of this blog post).
Between all of these apps, I’m saving a ton in wasting my time on doing all of these tasks manually. This means that I can spend more time doing the tasks that make me more moola 🙂
If you want more productivity-type apps, here’s a great article that gives you an amazing run-down on some of the best productivity apps available, 41 to be exact!
#4: Schedule your author business
The minute you start writing multiple books and creating courses, services etc is the minute that everything can either take off fantastically or fail catastrophically…
If you want to ensure your side hustle grows some legs and sticks around to become your full-time gig, then you need to schedule your author business into your calendar.
Sit down at the beginning of the week, or on a Sunday night, and map out your week.
You’ll already have a fairly good idea of where your job and personal responsibilities lie, so now all that’s left to do is schedule in your author business around all of that.
When I got started, I created a Google Calendar specifically for my author business.
I gave it a different colour to my personal stuff so that I could easily see where conflicts might arise or when deadlines were due.
Now I use an app called Todoist, which I absolutely love!
It allows me to create projects (think ‘project or client work’) and then assign tasks to each project.
You can take it further by creating labels as well, such as “at computer” or “morning action block” both of which I use. At a glance, I can easily see where I’m spending my time and on what.
You can also set it up to notify you of due dates 24 hours beforehand, or whatever timeframe you want.
You can receive these via SMS or email, very handy if you’re at work and want to make sure you’re keeping on top of your side hustle too.
Bottom line: you need to schedule your tasks into your calendar to ensure they get done.
#5: Get up early
If you’re finding yourself strapped for time at the end of the day, then get up earlier.
I know it sounds simple, but honestly, by just doing this one thing, you’ll feel a whole lot better about your writing.
When I first got started, I had to be at work by 7:30am, which saw me getting up at 6am… by the end of the day, I was pretty exhausted, and definitely not at my best to attempt doing my side hustle of freelance writing.
Instead, I started getting up at 5am and spending a solid hour on my author business tasks only.
By the end of the day, anything else I had to get done in my side hustle was a lot easier to tackle because I’d gotten a good chunk done before the day had even started.
The best thing about getting up at this time is that no-one else was awake in my household.
No-one was going to distract me with text messages (except for those on the other side of the world!) and I didn’t have to worry about the phone ringing either.
And don’t feed me a line about not being a morning person… if you want a successful author business, you’ll learn to become a morning person.
If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, getting up early WILL get easier.
Take these time management strategies and put them into your own author business today and start to gain back your time and focus.
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