While coaching writers and aspiring authors, a common challenge I hear is that of time management. It’s necessary to develop a daily writing habit in order to write a book or complete a writing project, but life often has a way of presenting obstacles. Before long, we resolve that we just don’t have enough time to write, so we put off the project until later...when the timing is right, but when will that be? Truth be known, the timing may never be just right to write your book. If your goal is to write and publish a book, you'll have to get creative with your schedule and create the time to write. Period.
Here are a few time management skills for writers:
1. Set goals. First and foremost, develop a plan of action and put your goals in writing. What are your long-term goals? Can you break those down into shorter goals, so they feel more attainable? Now, can you put a timeline on them? Putting a time limit on your goals will hold you accountable and may help you realize them more quickly. After you break your list into shorter goals, put them into chronological order and save them in a place where you will view them daily. Cross off each goal as you complete the task. Before long, you will find you enjoy the habit of ticking away at your to-do list!
Write a book
Publish my book by next year
Become a best-selling author
Research my topic
Develop my platform
Construct an outline
Write my book's intro
Work on my bio
2. Get creative with your time. First, you might want to start by tracking your time for a week so you can reflect on where your time is being spent. Once you’ve tracked your time, you will more easily see where you can cut certain things out of your life to make room for writing. For example, do you find you watch TV for 1-2 hours each evening? By cutting out your television time, you free up space for writing. Don’t worry, your favorite shows will still be there once your book is written, and you might even DVR your must-see shows to watch at a later date to reward yourself for completing your writing tasks!
3. Beware of time wasters. No matter how productive you decide to be, there are certain things that will eat up your time, such as: television, Facebook and other social media platforms, busy work (you know, that work you do that makes you fell busy yet you aren’t accomplishing the task at hand!)
NOTE: Beware of busy work and be sure each task you take on is helping you reach your final goal.
Being busy does NOT equal being productive.
I'm not saying answering emails and staying active on social media is not important, but there is a time and a place for it. I’m saying be mindful of how you are spending your writing time. When you finally do carve time out of your day to work on your book or writing project, it’s a good idea to log off of social media and resist the urge to check emails during that dedicated time. There is a time and place for those tasks too, but not during your scheduled writing time. Limit your distractions.
4. Stay inspired and organized. It’s a good idea to keep a pen and paper with you at all times for when inspiration strikes, and if you don’t have one with you, there are ways to take notes, such as using a notepad on your smartphone or sending yourself an email to open at a later date. Nowadays, with the accessibility of email at our fingertips when we are on the go, it’s easy to lose track of emails we already opened throughout the course of the day. File important emails into folders, save helpful articles you find online into dedicated folders, and bookmark websites you wish to visit at a later date when you are in research mode. Yes, there is a time and place for research as well, and it should be scheduled into your to-do list.
Getting organized will free up time later when you could be writing. Writing is the goal, after all! Overall, be mindful of how you are using your time, as time is your most valuable resource as a writer.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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