Friday has rolled around again and it’s Week 36 of the Marketing for Romance Writers 52-Week Blog Challenge. Thanks for joining me! The topic for this week is managing my writing. Since I get easily distracted when I’m working, I immediately went off in search of info on time management and writing strategies so I can tell you what I should be doing.
I found an article on Entrepreneur that had some interesting thoughts on time management. The authors make the point that, “there are only three ways to spend time: thoughts, conversations and actions. Regardless of the type of business you own, your work will be composed of those three items.” They recommend keeping a one-week journal of your thoughts, conversations, and activities so you can spot patterns and learn to schedule time blocks for them. That way, you “get a say on how much time you will spend on them” and can free up more time for your writing.
Psychology Today has an article on procrastination which supports this idea. The author, Timothy Pychyl, notes that, “we’re most likely to procrastinate on tasks that lack structure.” He suggests forming a mental image of the intended outcome for a task in order to help complete it (example: you drinking a glass of wine in celebration of finally finishing a tough scene in your WIP). He says the “less meaningful the goal, the less likely we’ll want to do the task,” making it easier to put it off.
Lately, it’s helped me to follow these time management tips:
- Ignore the phone. I do this all the time. Unless you’re among the select few who have been granted immediate access to yours truly (my kids and my hubby are pretty much the only ones who fall into this category), then you’d better leave me a message at the beep. If you don’t, I’m going to figure that you butt-dialed me or you’re a solicitor. Either way, you’re not getting a return call.
- Allowing myself 30 minutes twice a day to check emails and social media. Okay, maybe three times a day…. The important thing is to set an alarm and STOP what you’re doing when it goes off. We got an Amazon Echo earlier this summer and it helps immensely when I tell Alexa to set a timer. The hardest part of doing this is actually getting up when the timer goes off if the words are flowing.
- I stopped trying to multi-task. When I try to write, research, and check email, for example, everything turns into “squirrel.” You know what I mean…a dog trots down the street, focused on getting to the next fire hydrant, then suddenly…squirrel. Now, they’re distracted and dragging you face-first down the street (this I know from personal experience. Do you have any idea how strong a Labrador retriever can be when she spies a rabbit hightailing it across a field? But, I digress…(see? squirrel…)). So, focus on one thing at a time and give yourself a certain amount of time to do it before you move on to the next thing.
- Set a goal as part of your writing strategies. I’m on a deadline right now, so it’s uber important that I get words on paper (well, on my PC, but you get the point). I write every day. Every. Day. Much like with exercise, if I don’t feel like doing it, I promise myself I only need to write 250 words. At the end of it, I’ve at least made progress but, again, much like with exercise, I usually have gotten into the rhythm of writing and I can keep going a little longer.
- Schedule time to write. I get up early and spend an hour at the computer before I go to my day job. It helps that Handsome Prince starts work early, so I get up with him (at 4:50 a.m. thankyouverymuch). Even if I’m not up to slapping words on paper at that ungodly hour, I can at least do some research or answer emails or create and schedule social media posts, etc. This frees up time for writing the above-mentioned 250 words in the evening.
What are some of your most effective time management tips or writing strategies? For the love of all that’s holy, please help out a struggling writer by passing ’em on in the comments below!
In addition to my words of wisdom, this is also a blog hop. Stop by these authors to see what else you can learn: