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As a young, part-time travel writer juggling a small family farm, my husband’s business, and my own career, efficient time management remains crucial. I need to save as much time as possible when taking articles from conception to completion.

After I began writing for multiple media outlets, I quickly discovered a few tricks to help me streamline the writing process and write faster. They include…

1. Keep assignments organized

Whenever I get an assignment, I immediately write down the article topic, word count, editor’s name and email address, and magazine/blog name on my large desk calendar.

I write all these critical elements on a “due date” that is several days ahead of the actual due date. This ensures I stay ahead of schedule and keep my editors happy. It also prevents me from wasting time searching through emails to find these details when I get ready to write the article.

Once that article is submitted, I cross it off the calendar so I know exactly which assignments are pending and which are completed.

2. Use an outline

Outlines have always helped me organize my thoughts and are the bones upon which most of my articles are built.

I keep a small notebook in the car or in my bag, so I can brainstorm and outline upcoming articles whenever I’m sitting in a waiting room, attending a lengthy dance recital or ballgame, commuting across town, etc.

These are times when I wouldn’t normally be productive. Also, it can be done at places where phones and tablets are frowned upon.

Then, by the time I sit down to write the article, I’ve already organized the main points and just need to embellish and fine-tune it. That saves me a lot of time when I write.

3. Start an “Idea Album”

I keep a digital album on my phone with screenshots or photos of unique article titles, story angles, and image descriptions I come across that inspire me.

Whether I’m scrolling through my social media feeds or browsing old magazines in the dentist’s office, I never know when a well-written line or catchy title will spark my imagination.

When this happens, I snap a picture and save it to this album for future reference. When I fall into a creative slump or am having trouble putting my thoughts into words, I leaf through this collection for inspiration.

By saving time, I’m getting paid more to work less—and enjoying the life of a travel writer, without spending all of my time working on articles.

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