As many freelance writers discover when they start freelancing full-time, the reality of the job is that you don't really just write all day long. For any successful freelance writer -- or any successful small business owner or work-at-home employee -- a portion of every day has to be devoted to administrative tasks, or else you will pretty soon find yourself swamped with undone work... as I found myself swamped with un-filed paperwork and other messes in this picture of my dirty desk.
Administrative work you need to take into account every day includes:
- Filing paperwork
- Checking, responding to and following up on e-mail
- Keeping track of budgets, expenditures and so on
- Paying business-related bills
- Marketing and/or networking (particularly if you are self-employed or a small business owner)
Some freelancers I've talked to state that as much of a third of every day is taken up by these tasks; newer writers often spend even half of their days on marketing and networking. Managing your email inbox, searching for new clients, maintaining old clients and networks, and keeping organized all take up a sizeable chunk of time when attended to regularly. If you don't keep on top of these things, you may find yourself with mountains of paperwork to file all at once, for instance -- or, in a worst case scenario, with no more paying work until you get back to marketing.
You may not need to spend a half, a third, or even a quarter of your day on administrative tasks. Maybe all you need to do is set aside half an hour at the beginning and end of every day to do things like check email, check your schedule, and file paperwork. Whether you need an hour a day or several, though, it's best to set aside the time you need. Think of it as a good way to warm up and transition into work at the start of your day, or a means to wrap up at the end of the day, and you should be able to build it into your schedule.