I’m a big fan of those who master time. As a child, I watched Doctor Who on PBS and was thrilled when the BBC rebooted the franchise in 2005. I love the tales of the Time Lord who travels through time and space in his TARDIS vessel. Now, not that I’m a geek or anything—but I have a toy TARDIS and photos of me and my wife with actresses Billie Piper, Karen Gillan, and Alex Kingston, all of whom played characters who traveled with The Doctor in his various incarnations. You see, The Doctor regenerates every now and then and—
Okay, maybe I am a geek. It’s fun to be a geek, though.
Of course, to have time for restful distractions such as Doctor Who, I have to be the master of my time as a writer, editor, and business owner. In order to make the most of your writing or editing opportunities to be published, to earn money, and to be the very best you can be at your craft, you must master your time as well.
For the past year-and-a-half, it has been my privilege to work on the book Be Good at Doing Good with expert business coach and consultant Paul C. Bellows. In the course of editing his project, I have put Bellow’s concepts into practice to dramatically improve how I run my business, how I market myself to clients, and to increase my opportunities and income.
One of the emphases of his Be Good at Doing Good approach is effective time management. Given my A-plus anal personality, I thought I was already pretty doggone good at scheduling my time—and then I found out that this ol’ dog can indeed learn some new tricks. In his chapter on goals, Paul details how to track your time. Let me share with you just two of his points with a twist on how you can apply them to your time spent as a writer and editor.
How much is your time worth?
Paul says the simplest way to calculate your value is to look at your vision and financial goals in three years. Where do you want to be by then in terms of your income (the amount you pay yourself) and profit (the amount above and beyond your income that is made by your business)? Your time is worth your income goal plus your profit goal. For example, if your income goal by then is to be making $100,000 per year with a net profit by then of $100,000, then your total is $200,000. Based on 1,920 hours (240 eight-hour days), your hourly worth is nearly $105 an hour. “Of course,” Paul writes, “you can’t spend this if you haven’t earned it yet, but the mindset is what’s important.” If you know you are worth that much an hour, how should you be spending your time? How much time are you wasting on writing duties or other tasks at no charge that keep you from earning money or from training to broaden or improve your skills? What projects—and at what rates—should you be doing and pursuing that will move you closer to your income and profit goals?
In order to make more money, you might need to broaden your writing scope—move away from the familiar into new and profitable territory—but how? A great tool to help you figure this out is the annual Writer’s Market Guide from Writer’s Digest and its section on “How Much Should I Charge?” It lists nearly 150 types of writing or editing services you can offer to clients as well as per hour and per project rates. You can also consult with me on how you can broaden yourself as a writer or editor. I promise you’ll be surprised at all of the different styles you can do (or be trained to do) to be a more prolific writer and editor, and to increase your ability to earn more income.
Prioritize daily action steps
Paul says this “starts and ends with your calendar. Instead of creating a daily to-do list, schedule your must-do activities—not only your appointments and meetings, but also time spent towards your priority goals.” I have learned from Paul that time blocking for responding to emails and conducting weekly meetings with my clients and colleagues has added to my efficiency. I’ve also learned to write or edit in premium billable hours during my most creative and energetic times of the day, and to relegate non-earning activities into the other hours of the day. Paul writes: “Value your time and treat it as the precious resource that it is. All very successful people have this characteristic as well as the ability to say ‘no’ to opportunities that are not strategic or smart. They also know how to rest, play, eat well, exercise, and say ‘yes’ to a healthy lifestyle and healthy people.”
You don’t need a TARDIS to be the Time Lord of your writing and editing life. Apply these tips and start becoming a master of your time—doctor’s orders!
I want to hear from you!
What one thing can you remove from your writing or editing task list right now to be more time effective?