Time Management: Keeping Track

When Misha mentioned that her theme this month was keeping track, I immediately thought of time management.

Most writers are not blessed with being able to write full time. We have to balance work and family with that writing time.

And if you’re self-publishing (like I chose to do) time-management becomes an even bigger issue. There’s no editor or agent to give you deadlines or reminders to keep working. You’re on your own.

So how do you make the best use of your time? Here’s my list of suggestions. I wrote them specifically for writers, but you can expand this to apply to most activities.

1. Commit

The very, very first step to improve time management is to make a mental commitment to your new schedule. If you don’t want to improve your time management, you probably won’t.

So start by listing your goals. Perhaps you want to set aside time to write for one hour every day (that’s my usual time goal). Maybe you want to focus on reading more. Whatever it is, list your goals, and make a promise to yourself to commit. 

2. Keep the goals realistic

I am so guilty of this, especially around New Year’s. I make all these crazy resolutions, like I’ll go running for an hour every day, or I’ll cook dinner every evening (yeah, right).

Figure out what is realistic for you. Once again, if it’s a big change, you’re less likely to follow through. Start with one small change (like setting aside 30 minutes a day for writing), and then build up to something bigger.

3. Figure out your most productive hours

I am definitely an early bird. My most productive time of day is 6 AM, when I have the first mug of coffee in my hands.

But I know not everyone is like that. Honestly assess yourself and decide when during the day you’re most productive. Maybe inspiration hits during your lunch break. Maybe your best ideas coming after dinner. Make sure you’re setting up your block of writing time to coincide with when you do your best work. 

4. Write it down. 
There’s nothing like seeing your schedule in black in white (or on the computer screen, as the case may be).

Personally, I am a Google Calendar addict. When I’m not writing, I’m tutoring, so I use Google Calendar to keep my schedule straight. 

I set up a block most mornings to write. The nice thing about Google Calendars is that it will sync up to my phone, so I can always keep track of my schedule.

The other nice thing is that you can leave event notes. For my writing blocks, I’ll leave a note with how many words I wrote that day. It helps me to track my progress and keep me motivated toward my goal. 

5. Find a way to enforce your deadlines

It can be hard to hold ourselves accountable, so find a way to set some kind of enforcement for your deadlines.

For my first book, ‘Bright Star’, I was having trouble keeping myself motivated through the editing phase. To keep myself on track, I booked a freelance editor about 8 weeks in advance. My deadline then became getting through all of my corrections and rewrites BEFORE I sent my work off to my editor. Having another person to be accountable to makes a world of difference.

Don’t have an editor? Then set up a deadline with a friend or relative. You can agree to show them a draft of your work X weeks out. Knowing that another person is counting on your work definitely helps motivation. 

6. REWARD YOURSELF

This is my favorite step. If you meet your goals (i.e. — writing for an hour every day for a month, or getting your draft ready before your deadline), treat yourself to something! You’ve earned it. Whether it be a nice dinner out, a bottle of wine, or some cheesecake (oh, yum, cheesecake), giving yourself a little pat on the back makes it easier to stay motivated to make the best use of your time.

**********

You can find Nickie Anderson on her blog.

Her first book, ‘Bright Star’, was released November 9th. It is available at the following retailers:

It’s bad enough that Sadira Pascal’s father doesn’t make it home to celebrate her fifteenth birthday. He might be a busy hovership engineer pulling overtime on a new design, but he’s always been home for the important things. It’s worse when she discovers her father decided to ride on the maiden voyage of his newest ship, the CAS Bright Star, without even telling her. But things really fall apart during Sadira’s field trip with her class to observe the hovership launch. Instead of a successful flight, she watches the Bright Star fall out of the sky. 
The Central government confirms her father’s death, leaving Sadira to pick up the pieces of her former life. While she struggles with her loss, Private Baruj Haddad tries to convince her that her father and the rest of the Bright Star crew are still alive. At first, Sadira doesn’t believe there’s any hope. But then she stumbles across a message that makes her think maybe, just maybe, her father is still alive. As she digs deeper into the Bright Star’s crash, Sadira uncovers secrets about her father’s work, secrets that put her and everyone she loves in danger.
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7 thoughts on “Time Management: Keeping Track

  1. @Alex — that is the one thing I've really learned so far. There has to be a commitment to change for change to happen (because it's so hard to break old habits!)

    Thanks for posting, Misha!

  2. I love some of the ideas you have here. I've been having a difficult time finding motivation lately. I know I have to just DO it, but there are always other things calling for my attention. I think I'm going to make up that schedule and a small series of awards for reaching my goals.

    Thanks for the great ideas!!

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