Top 10 Time Management Tips for Journalists

 

Have you ever heard the saying from Salmon of Doubt author Douglas Adams, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by”?

For budding journalists, meeting deadlines is no easy task. DEIRDRE RUSSELL looks at proven ways to ease the strain.

 

It has been said that ‘Time Management’ is really a misnomer – the challenge is not to manage time, but manage ourselves.

Budding journalists take note: there is more to winning in this game than just being a great writer and coming up with unique angles. You are 100% responsible for managing yourself, your business and your time.

Here are some important tools tips and tricks to approaching your next article:

Definitely do…

1. Mind Map your articles

To help get the creative juices flowing, get your ideas down on paper. Anna Vital is an infographic author and start-up specialist. She advises in her mind map How to be Productive to “Do a bad first draft. You can’t edit a blank page.” Start writing, the rest will follow.

2. Prioritise your day

Listing your to-dos in order of priority is vital. It helps you categorise your action points, identify unnecessary tasks, and eliminate them. A useful by-product of this tool is managing expectations you have for yourself, which avoids the worry of letting editors down.

3. Use the 15 minute rule

This rule is essential for “stuck in a rut days”. The concept, coined by fellow-journo and life-coach Caroline Buchanan, involves doing a task for 15 minutes and then walking away guilt-free. Once the timer goes, go make yourself a coffee or swap to a different task. Merely getting a start on your article is sometimes half the battle.

4. Only check emails twice a day

In his book entitled How to get things done Richard Templar advocates checking emails (a huge time drain) twice a day. Set aside a time-slot in the morning and another in the evening. Devote this entire to slot reading, replying to or actioning emails.

 5. Keep a time leak diary

It’s not a “Dear diary”, but recording your repeat offenders is key to identifying your time thieves. It pinpoints where you are mismanaging yourself. Don’t fancy a handwritten approach? Use Rescue Time, an app that will track your time and send you weekly reports.

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 6. Check social media

While twitter is a useful tool for circulating your article and finding new ideas, it is a major culprit in poor time optimization. Rather wait until you have finished your piece before you’re tempted to tweet.

7. Sleep in

The average CEO rises at 5.30am or 6am, according The Guardian’s article What time do top CEOs wake up? Ok, so you are not a CEO but you are your own boss and the majority of great article ideas pop up bright and early.

8. Procrastinate

US media man Marc Schollett saves time using his ‘one touch rule’. “Juggling is not something I am very good at. I tend to have a one touch rule” he explained to AR&D’s Bob Kaplitz. “If I pick up a tape, I edit it now. If I go shoot an interview, I log it as soon as possible. Things can pile up way too fast.”

9. Say NO to negativity

In her book The Secret, Rhonda Byrne promotes the law of positive attraction. If you want to write a great piece of journalism you must visualise it and create it. Positivity is key.

10. Forget to file notes as you go

Notes containing websites and sources should be filed properly. It might seem simple but there’s nothing worse than trawling through your database for hours to find that one elusive name.

 

Next time, that deadline won’t “whoosh” over your head as it flies past.

 

About the Author:

Deirdre Russell, Magazine Journalism Graduate at SA Writers CollegeDeirdre Russell is a 30-something freelance writer based in Johannesburg. Originally from Ireland, she has lived in New York, London and Dubai.

When she isn’t writing, she’s practising the Ballet Beautiful fitness method in preparation for her upcoming nuptials, practising as a corporate lawyer in Sandton or practising singing in the Johannesburg Symphony choir.

Her passions include travel, safari and sampling all the food and wine in South Africa.

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