Does time management ever get any easier or less time consuming?
The good news is that, like most things, time management can become more natural with practice. You can train yourself to write more succinctly the first time through. You can teach yourself to be alert for potential post subjects all the time. You can learn better time-use habits.
Less time consuming? That’s a personal question, but hopefully the answer is “yes” to this question, too.
How You Spend Your Time Now
The first step in solving a problem is identifying the problem.
Take a week or two (or maybe a month) and list all the things you do each day. This can be as easy as jotting things down on scrap paper or as complex as setting up a worksheet and collecting data. How you collect this information is less important than collecting the information.
Likewise, the amount of time spent in data collection is less important than the information you collect. If your schedule doesn’t vary much week to week, recording activities for a week or two will be sufficient. If your routine changes from one week to the next, but is pretty standard month to month, you’ll probably need a month to collect all the information you need.
How Do You Want to Spend Your Time?
It’s a well documented fact that 80% of productivity comes from 20% of your activities. The same rule of thumb pertains to time.
Find the 20% of activities that are the most productive. Those are the things you need to do no matter what. Put them at the top of your to-do list.
If you get 80% of your sales (as example) from your blog, your blog should be at the top of your to-do list.
If, on the other hand, you have no measurable results from the time you spend blogging, you may need to consider letting the blog go. The same goes for Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest. No exceptions.
After Identifying the Highest Priority Tasks…
Build the rest of your daily, weekly, or monthly to-do list around those tasks. Continue to list tasks until you’ve got everything listed. Your task list should have the most productive tasks at the top and the least productive at the bottom.
Making Time For Your Tasks
If nothing else, your task list tells you what things you need to do first and most often in order to reach your goals.
The next step is assigning the most important tasks to your most productive time of day or week. For example, if your most productive task is writing blog posts and your most creative writing time is after everyone else is in bed, then you should write blog posts after the rest of the family is in bed.
If, on the other hand, your fiction writing is your primary source of income and your most productive writing time is between breakfast and lunch, then you should work on your novel between breakfast and lunch.
A Caveat or Two
No method or system works for everyone. We’re all unique, a minority of one. There is no one like you and no one like me. What works for me will not work for everyone. But the method outlined here will help most of us find those daily or weekly tasks that are the most productive and will help us to make the best use of time to get those things done.
Second, be aware that life happens. There is simply no getting around that. The schedule is made for you; not you for the schedule. Be flexible enough to let go of your schedule when life happens and be aware that your time management schedule is there, waiting to be put to use again when you get back to work.
The Bottom Line…
It’s great to seek help and advice, but in the end, you know what does and doesn’t work for you. You have to make the decisions. Don’t let trends influence you if the trend doesn’t fit you or isn’t helpful.
For most of us, the bottom line is writing books. That’s either how we make our living or how we want to make our living.
Everything that doesn’t contribute to writing books is counterproductive. If you’re not writing because you’re spending all your time blogging, tweeting, texting, watching TV, whatever, rethink your priorities.
Time is like money. You have to budget it to get the most from it and you may have to be a strict self-disciplinarian (like I’ve had to be).
But it is worth it.
Next Stop: IPT Time Management Clinic
April is Time Management Month at Indie Plot Twist. For the next four weeks, I’ll share tips for making your writing and non-writing time more productive. The subject for the next two weeks in improving productivity for writing. After that, we’ll talk about improving time management and productivity skills for the background things we all have to deal with.
Of course, if there’s something you’d like to discuss, leave a comment in the box below. There is always room for extra class sessions in this virtual classroom!
If you enjoyed today’s post, join me each Saturday this month for another lesson.