IPT Time Management Clinic – Why a 15-Minute Task List Works

 

Welcome back to our IPT Time Management clinic. The first two clinic posts focused on writing productivity. You can read the first post here and the second here. The tips we shared are invaluable for making the most of writing efforts.

But there’s more to writing than just writing. Things that must happen in the background in order for writing to move forward. What those background things are will differ from writer to writer, but we all have them. Things like a full time job, family, health issues, or school.

Today, I’m going to switch gears to talk about keeping those background projects moving forward and I’m going to focus on the one method that’s been the most helpful to me. A 15-minute task list.

What can you possibly accomplish in just 15 minutes a day?

More than you might expect.

Using time efficiently and productively has always been a personal struggle. The more things on my to-do list, the more difficult I’ve found it to make sure every task gets the appropriate amount of attention each day. It was easy to spend too much time on things I enjoyed and even easier to let the less pleasant tasks go ignored until it was deadline time.

In 2013, I changed my work habits by creating a list of what I call 15-minute tasks. Things I do every day. My current daily list includes:

  1.     Articles
  2.     Article Art
  3.     Blog post – Horse Painter
  4.     Blog post – Indie Plot Twist
  5.     Blog post – Writing Well
  6.     Blog Art

These tasks represent the bulk of my “background activities.” While they don’t all directly apply to writing, making sure they all got a little bit of attention every day did free me to think about writing when the time came to write each day.

I’ve started, worked on, or completed a lot of things since adding this time management tool to my daily routine. More than enough to turn me from skeptic to proponent.

How A 15-Minute Task List Works

I start each day with the task list above or some variation of it. Literally. I do as many of these tasks as possible before lunch and I generally begin with the blogs, since it’s easier to do them and be done with them in the morning.

I spend 15 minutes on each task, then move on to the next task. I don’t always work the list in the same order, but the important thing is that I work the entire list every day.

It doesn’t sound like much, but since starting the 15-minute task list, I’ve updated both blogs (including moving my art blog), started a new blog (this one), written and published three art instruction eBooks, written and published Writing a Novel is Like Walking a Cat, begun a writing instruction book, and a number of other things. As I look back at the past 15 months or so, I’m overwhelmed by the number of things that have been finished. I’ve been able to keep a number of projects moving forward and nothing has gotten behind.

To be honest, I had my doubts when I started the 15-minute task list.

To be honest, I’m amazed at the results.

As with most things in life, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the issue of time management. A list of 15-minute tasks may not work for you.

But then again it may. There’s only one way to find out.

Getting Started

The wonderful thing is that it’s easy to get started. All it takes is three easy steps.

Make a list of the things you need to do. Don’t leave anything important off the list. Novel writing, blog post writing, freelance work, social media, whatever tasks need your attention every day but don’t need a lot of attention to move forward should be on this list.

Challenge yourself to give each task 15 minutes each day. Just 15 minutes. No more than 15 minutes. The time can be spent writing, doing research, planning, organizing, whatever is necessary to move a project forward that day. If you can’t work every day, then find the days that work best for you and try that.

Get started.

Don’t give up too easily even if it doesn’t seem to be working very well. It takes a little time to retrain your mind to the idea of working in short bursts. Give it chance at acclimate.

Then see what happens!

Our IPT Time Management Clinic concludes next week with tips on how to make your work do double duty. I hope you’ll join me.

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