2. Time Management. Today, I’m going to be “talking” about another area of managing your business. This important element is the hardest one for me to get a handle on as change isn’t something that comes easily to me. I like schedules. Plans. With my life going in so many different directions (family, work, volunteering, hobbies), it’s hard to squeeze them all in and when I get a plan down that works, it throws me off when something comes up and I need to rework everything.
But, I’m getting better at it as I’ve come to see, especially over the last year, flexibility is a skill I must learn and master in order to give my family, business, and enjoying life the proper time and attention each needs. Time management is essential when an author finds themselves with books due around the same date. In 2012, I had three books released (Led Astray: May 1, Safe and Sound: Nov 1, and Cropped to Death: Nov 20).
Some periods of life you’ll have time to devote to every project, idea, mentoring, volunteering, critiquing, social event, , etc and other seasons you won’t. Figuring out the best way to manage time will be different for everyone. I’ve used planners on my phone, a “paper” calendar, computer programs, Google calendar. I’ve found that having a “paper” planner on my desk that has daily and monthly sections works best for me.
There are times during the year when I have more time available for writing as my other commitments are low (during the summer, winter because snow forces me to be housebound, etc) and other times where I swear if I didn’t jot down on my calendar to eat and breathe, I’d forget.
Tip A. Focus Days. I devote time each day to one major area: Marketing Mondays, T-Do List (admin) Tuesdays, Writing Wednesdays, Financial Fridays, etc. I try to write every day (except for Mondays on occasion as marketing can take up a huge amount of time). I find if I stick to one extra area to focus on it works better for my brain. I have a lot of trouble bouncing from one area to another. When my day is really fractured, it takes a lot longer to get tasks done. I much rather get one big task done a day (having four or whatever number is left depending what day it is) than take all of the work week to get five major tasks done. It’s just more encouraging to me to see items being completed.
Tip B. Written Goals. On my planner, I’ll write down the word or page goals I have for each day (less on Monday) and then on Saturday have the weekly goal listed. Some weeks the word count will be less, others more, as I take a look at what else needs to be done that week as I want realistic daily/weekly goals. I try not to set myself up for failure. The writing business is often an emotional roller coaster so I try to be one of the people not creating all the big downward plunges.
Tip C. Make Writing Appointments. Schedule writing as you would any other appointments. Beginning of the week/month put down your ‘appointment for writing’, whether it’s a half-hour or a couple of hours. You have just made a commitment to write –to yourself–so you can’t say yes to anything else during that time. Of course if an emergency –a real emergency– comes up, cancel the appointment but reschedule for later that day or week.
Tip D. Focus. This is the one tip I say to myself daily. It’s so easy to allow my mind to wander to other areas on my to-do list. Having days scheduled for filing makes it easier for me because I remind myself when I will be completing that task. I work on concentrating on what I’m currently doing. I will admit topping the rolling to-do list in my head is challenging at times. Which brings me to…
Tip E. Write it down. If you’re afraid of forgetting something, keep paper and pen beside you and jot it down then get to writing. I was so afraid I’d forget what I had to do, I’d keep reminding myself of it. (Probably a fear created from all those great scenes I thought about at night and promised myself I’d remember in the morning.) If I’m out and about, I’ll make a note on my phone. I have a love-hate relationship with my Smartphone…the ability to write notes on it that I can transfer to my planner is one of its best qualities…trying to figure out how to answer it at times, not so much.
I hope some of my tips help you.
Next in the mini-series: Marketing and Promoting.