Friday, December 9, 2011

Time Management Tips for Writers

Hi everyone,

Doesn’t it seem like EVERYONE is pressed for time? 

I know I am! Between getting up and going into my full time day job (I can’t afford to write full time), getting the kids up, getting us to where we need to be, working all day, picking the kids up, making supper, packing lunches, keeping the house clean, getting the laundry done, taking care of the pets, preparing the blog post for Mystery Writers Unite and still trying to find time to write and relax…let’s just say that some days I feel like I need a few more of me!

I know I’m not the only one feeling the time management pressure and from what I understand most writers face the same type of time-management dilemmas such as:

  • Trying to meet their current deadlines while marking to existing and new reader base.
  • Trying to switch from one task to another and even sometimes one project to another without getting distracted.
  • Trying to avoid setting unrealistic expectations but then not setting the bar high enough all in the name of avoiding that terrible feeling one gets when they don’t meet a goal.
  • Trying to be flexible enough to be able to deal with unforeseen events that inevitably croup up in our day-to-day lives while still having enough structure to reach their goals.
  • Trying to perfect the ability to be able to be able to multitask and work on multiple projects.

Now, I’m not saying I have all the answers, but I do have some strategies that I’ve come across in researching this subject and some others that I practice myself that I thought I would share with all of you.

Time Management Tips:

1.    It’s helpful to have a designated workspace — ideally, an office or studio space outside of your home. If this isn’t possible, a home office with a door you can close is your next best option. Don’t have a room to set aside for an office? Go to your local Pier 1, buy a Chinese screen and section off a corner of a room. Voilà: instant office. Another popular choice is to go and write at a coffee shop or your public library.

2.    No, I’m not saying you should work naked, but dress like you’re going to the office. Because, guess what? You are. Even if your “office” is your kitchen table, putting on regular work clothes gets you into the right mind-set. It also makes it less embarrassing when the UPS man shows up in the middle of the afternoon.

3.    Prepare documents ahead of time for quick turnover if you get an inquiry (e.g. writer bio, an introduction letter with a snippet of your book, etc.).

4.    Use your email folders, filters, rules to manage your email. This will save you a TON of time when you need a particular email and don’t have a spare half hour to scan hundreds of messages.

5.    Make sure you remain rested and take a break if you begin to feel fatigued. 

6.    Create an outline for the day.

7.    Outsource tasks that eat into your time and take you away from reaching your writing goals (e.g. research, editing, cover art, etc.)

8.    Schedule what you can and use networking tools such as Tweet Adder, Hootsuite and Social Omph to automate tasks (see: Guest Blogger ~ R.S. Guthrie on Social Media Marketing post for more information).

9.    Many writers think they’re inefficient when the real problem is their need for perfectionism. Instead of waiting for the “perfect” line or idea to come to you just right what comes to mind and then you can refine and hone it until it's what you want.

10.  If you’ve managed to cut your commute by having a home office, don’t waste that extra time by deciding that you now have time to have an extra cup of coffee or some other irrelevant task that will make you arrive at your home office the same time your would have arrived at an outside office.

11. Don’t waste time by watching TV, going to the movies, doing household chores or laundry during your WORK day. It is fine to take a break now to ensure that you feel rested and alert but do your best to stick with the schedule you decided upon.

12.  Limit the number of distractions around you (e.g. turn off the phone, don’t check mail, cut off access to Internet, don’t answer the door, etc.).

13.  If a challenge is what motivates you, set a timer for a set period of time and see how many words you can't add to your story before the timer dings. Take a rest, set the timer and do it again with an aim to improve upon the number of words you managed the first time around.

14. If your easily motivated by others, having a writing buddy that you can check in with on a regular basis (daily, weekly, monthly or even quarterly) to keep you accountable may be useful (just don’t waste all your time

15. Set weekly goals and then schedule them in.

16. Reward yourself when you meet your writing goals – this doesn’t have to be something “big” it could be a simple as taking the time to go for a walk, visit a friend, have a nap or a glass of wine and pat yourself on the back! These little rewards will keep you motivated and give you something to look forward to.

17.  If you are like me, you may get satisfaction from crossing things off a “to-do” list – make one stating your daily goals in small manageable parts (e.g. write 500 words in the next 2 hours) and start crossing them off!

18.  Schedule your work to be at a time when nobody else is working or in the office (e.g., really early in the morning or really late at night).

19. Tackle the stuff you don’t like or enjoy doing first. Often times if these things are left until the end of the day, you may put them off until the next day.

Have a great day everyone!


1 comment:

Anne R. Allen said...

Great tips. I'm bookmarking this. Thanks!