7 easy time management tips for copywriters

January 5, 2012 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Productivity 

time management for copywritersTime management isn’t something they teach in school and it’s not something most copy gurus talk about.

So even if you’re the most brilliant copywriter on the planet, you won’t get very far if you’re piddling away all the hours in your workday.

Here are some time management tips specifically for copywriters:

Eliminate distractions. Turn off the radio. Tell friends and family to not call you when you’re working. Turn down the volume on your computer so you can’t hear the *bing bong* chime when email arrives. Even little interruptions can throw you off-track.

Stop goofing around online. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. You turn on your computer and check Facebook, right? Then you visit your favorite news site. Then maybe watch some funny cat videos on YouTube. Before you know it, you’ve burned a couple hours and have nothing to show for it.

Knock it off. Do personal things on personal time and business things on business time.

Say “no.” This is a skill you must learn because it’s the best way to prevent filling your schedule with time wasters. Say no to yourself. Say no to clients. Say no to colleagues. Be nice but decisive. The busier you are, the less time you have for all those little favors, pointless meetings, and endless freebies people want.

Use a calendar. Copywriting works on deadlines, so you need to get those deadlines into a calendar. A paper calendar is okay, but I recommend a computer calendar with programmable reminders, such as the one built into ACT!, a contact management program. If you juggle many simultaneous projects, you could also use project management software.

Write up a daily to-do list. If you’re not doing this, start immediately. Make a list of each thing you must accomplish today and start working through the list. At the end of the day, every item should be crossed off. Before you leave the office, make a list for the next day.

This seems obvious, but I am always astonished at how many people don’t use lists. They rely on dozens of disorganized sticky notes or piles of paper or often nothing at all. I suppose some people can track everything in their head, but I’ve found that the only way to be SURE you get everything done is to make a list and work through it each day.

Stop being a phone slave. I screen calls with caller ID and voice mail. I never answer the phone if I don’t recognize the caller, and sometimes don’t answer even if I do. I check messages and return calls once a day when it’s convenient. I recommend you do the same.

Deal with email twice a day. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon are ideal. This is a hard one for me because I have email filling my inbox all day. And yes, some email is urgent. But by processing messages in clumps, you can save a lot of time.

Also keep in mind that you don’t have to answer every message. The delete button is your friend. When you do answer, don’t turn it into a writing project. Keep it short and to-the-point.

Being efficient with your time is really about organization and prioritization. These are just 7 ways to organize and prioritize. Do you have other tips you’d like to share?

Related posts:

  1. Track your copywriting projects the easy, low-tech way

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Smart Comments

9 Comments on 7 easy time management tips for copywriters

  1. jma on Jan 6th, 2012 9:46 am
  2. I spend a lot of time proofing so I don’t send out typos…

  3. Nigel the UK Copywriter on Jan 17th, 2012 2:52 pm
  4. It’s all about discipline, right? Any other copywriters out there have massive trouble with Monday mornings? Never done anything productive – except a decent effort on Angry Birds – before midday on a Monday.

  5. Dean Rieck on Jan 17th, 2012 3:11 pm
  6. Nigel, if the game allowed you to throw rocks at the birds rather than throw birds at the rocks, I think it would cause far fewer problems for copywriters. Feel free to make up your own joke about killing two birds with one stone, etc.

  7. Nigel the UK Copywriter on Jan 17th, 2012 3:51 pm
  8. Nice one, Dean.

    On the subject of email, do you not feel compelled to deal with mail the nanosecond it arrives? Jumping on a message pronto could steal a march on your competitors. I know that a prompt reply to an enquiry always earns me brownie points with prospects.

  9. Dean Rieck on Jan 17th, 2012 4:22 pm
  10. Generally, people contact me because they specifically want to work with ME. If they’re doing a cattle call or if they’re in a big rush and expect me to drop whatever I’m doing and respond within 5 minutes, they’re not the sort of client I want to deal with. Rushing to respond to people can appear desperate and attract difficult clients.

  11. freelance copywriter on Jan 19th, 2012 12:18 pm
  12. very nice tips.. i will try to remember this:)

  13. Tedel on Mar 29th, 2012 6:36 pm
  14. I could add one: Ask your client to send you all the information in one single package. If you first receive one thing, and then another portion, and then another portion… boy! I have when that happens.

  15. Jack Stafford on May 29th, 2012 5:51 am
  16. I can’t concentrate on writing when I have an internet connection because my mind wanders with the browser, but paradoxically I usually need internet to do the copywriting – for research.

  17. Custom On It on Jul 16th, 2012 1:57 am
  18. Good points to know. I believe its good tactic that you schedule your work like you mentioned the point above. What i feel difficult to manage my work is that when you are at a reporting level then you first set the time which day or hour you have to make the reports and when to send to your clients or also have communications with them because it disturbs your whole schedule.