A year ago last month, Carrie and I started this blog as a way to share what we were learning on our road to indie publishing. We both have books out now (Carrie’s here, and mine here), and I for one am beginning to feel the stress of trying to promote one book while trying to write another, plus keeping on top of our growing community here at Indie Plot Twist.
Just this afternoon, I stared at the carnage of “to-do” notes on my marker board and had a small panic attack.
So I did the sensible thing.
I backed away. I plugged in my little table-top fountain. (Actually, the fountain broke. I dropped the new pump I got for it in a bowl of water and plugged it in. Good ’nuff.) And then I stretched out on the floor of my living room, listened to the sound of tumbling water, and stared at the ceiling.
Luckily, I had an epiphany.
There’s No Such Thing as Multitasking
I’d recently heard someone say (wish I could remember where) that there’s no such thing as multitasking. Strictly speaking, we are only capable of focusing our efforts on one thing at a time. It’s true that we may spend as little as two seconds on one task before turning to the next, and then bouncing back to the first. (And back and forth we go.) But in reality, we are still doing just one thing at a time.
(There are a few exceptions, of course. I usually listen to self-publishing podcasts while I work in the kitchen. Supper and job education all in one!)
When I have too many projects that all need to be done immediately, my first inclination is to curl up on the sofa with a good book.
Obviously, this isn’t the right answer.
The right answer is to clean up the marker board, organize all those tasks according to priority, decide how much time I will spend on each task … and then set a timer and start knocking ’em down.
Which, happily, is what I did today. Still would have liked to curl up with the Kindle, but …
Have You Written a Book Today?
Another bit of inspiration came from Joanna Penn’s book, Business for Authors. She explains that she has a note which she posted in a prominent place, asking herself, “Have you made art today? Have you written 1,000 words? Are you a step closer?” It’s her reminder to herself about what’s ultimately important: Creating and progressing.
Considering how easy it is to get stuck in the hamster wheel of blogging, marketing, building a social media platform, and tending to a slew of administrative tasks, I’m considering putting up a similar note on my own wall. Not sure yet how I’ll word it. Maybe this:
Have you written a book today?
Okay, maybe that’s stretching a bit far. But it does bring me directly to my next epiphany.
It’s Not about Doing, It’s about Finishing
Educate myself on CreateSpace book formatting? What a drag. I don’t want to be stuck doing that.
But when I re-organized my marker board today, and assigned a specific amount of time to each task, it dawned on me that each of those tasks I so dreaded was only going to take me about fifteen minutes. And then – boom! – done with. Forever.
This epiphany automatically shifted my focus from doing the task – an amorphous state of existence which would most certainly ensnare me forever – to finishing the task. I broke big projects down into little projects and asked, “How much time will it take me to finish this task? Forever?”
Here I was, putting off what I needed to do to establish a new stream of revenue, when a mere fifteen minutes would put me a big step closer to getting that print edition ready to rock n’ roll.
And for those tasks I really dreaded to do, I could tell myself, “Hey, in fifteen minutes, it’ll all be over. You can put up with fifteen minutes, can’t you?”
So with my make-shift fountain still happily bubbling along in the background, I find myself far more refreshed than I was when I started the day. And I’m eyeing that marker board, eraser in hand, asking, “What else can I get done? What else will get me closer to selling a book today?”