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