04 October 2012

the “write” way: 10 time management tips for writers

10 Time Management Tips for Writers
With the Submit-O-Rama underway, and many writers’ preparations for the upcoming National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in full swing, it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. No matter how you break it down, the basic truth is that writers are always busy people. And the big question for a lot of us remains: How do I find time for it all?

The hard truth is, as writers, we must acknowledge that sometimes there just isn’t time for it all. Fortunately, the softer truth is that there are ways to take control of your time and get as much done as possible without feeling the strain of taking on too much! Try out these ten tips for managing your time as a writer:

1. Steal it
We all have little gaps in our day in which nothing is really going on. Maybe it’s your lunch break. Maybe it’s the ten minutes you spend waiting for dinner to finish cooking, or the eight minutes you spend waiting for that pot of water to boil. Maybe it’s the five minutes you spend in the bathroom. Start filling those little gaps with small tasks like jotting down ideas for your work in progress, answering emails, commenting on blogs and/or Facebook posts, scheduling tweets on Twitter, and so forth.

2. Focus
You can really only work on one thing at a time. Even as a professional multitasker I know this. Instead of trying to work on ten or five or two projects simultaneously, hone your attention in on one; wait until you are finished to turn your attention to something new. Besides avoiding the frustration of feeling overwhelmed with projects, you’ll also enjoy extra satisfaction in each task you finish!

3. Pre-plan
Take a little time on your weekend to schedule blog posts, make lists of the week’s to-do’s, and so forth. Taking an hour on one day to figure out your priorities for the week frees up infinitely more time on the other six days of your week to get actual work done!

4. Automate
Just like pre-posting blog posts frees you from having to write them during the week, automation is becoming increasingly available for simple online tasks. Tools like HootSuite allow you to schedule tweets, the sharing of recent blog posts, and more. HootSuite is also great because it helps you avoid getting bogged down in numerous stimulating social media tabs! You’re your Facebook and Twitter accounts housed under one roof, you are able to focus on the meaningful interactions they allow rather than the distractions they present.

5. Learn to say “No”
As was previously noted, it’s a hard fact but you can’t do it all. Learn the fine art of not taking on more than you can handle. This can be hard when you’re in the midst of one project and an amazing opportunity arises. Learn to prioritize instead of trying to take on the whole world at once. You have to win the war one battle at a time.

6. Simplify
If you’ve already bitten off a choke-worthy mouthful, start simplifying things. If you have multiple websites, try to keep them on the same platform, like Blogger or WordPress. If you are a member of several different organizations, figure out which ones really mean the most to you, and which you can drop or put on a back burner. If you are a member of multiple social media sites that do the same thing, allow yourself to drop the ones that you don’t really take advantage of.

7. Break
Learn to take a day—or two—off. One of the hardest things in a writer’s life is learning to step back from the writing you love to love yourself. Still, it’s important for you to have time that’s just for you: time that’s not dedicated to meeting a deadline or pleasing others or even editing the manuscript you love. Allow yourself to take a break, especially when you start to feel the wear of it all.

8. Give
We’re not talking gift giving here … we’re talking “giving up.” It’s important that you become willing to accept that you only have so many hours in the day. Take care of the important things, and let the things that can wait … wait.

9. Quit
Let’s face it: sometimes things just aren’t worth doing … or they just aren’t working. Maybe you joined a second writing group on the recommendation of a friend, but you’re not getting anything out of it. Maybe you added a new feature to your website but it’s starting to look like a flop. Remember that as bad as it feels to “quit” something … it’s also extremely brave. It’s your way of saying that there’s something better you could be doing, and that this thing is just a waste of time.

10. List
Never underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned to-do list! Making lists of the tasks you have to complete helps you better visualize what exactly you need to do. Prioritize your lists by sorting them most-important to least. Tell yourself it’s okay if the things at the bottom of the list don’t get done right away.

Whatever steps you take to manage your time as a writer, it’s important to keep one thing in mind: You’re only human. Even Superman has to recharge his solar-powered batteries once in a while … and none of us are Superman, no matter how hard we try to be! Take charge of your writing time, and learn to stop letting time take charge of you!

How about you? What are your favorite time management techniques? How do you take charge of your writing time? What do you do when things start to feel overwhelming? Be sure to share your tips, ideas, and thoughts in the comments.

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Here are some other helpful Time Management Tips for Writers:

7 comments:

  1. Love it!
    Oh and I don't know if I told you that I love what you've done with your blog!

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  2. Question: How did you get your blog to expand the full width of your page? Did you adjust it somehow?

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  3. Thank you, Dana! As for the expanded blog layout: If you go to your Blogger dashboard and click on "Layout," it will let you elect to Customize your template. In the Customization menu, just click on "Adjust Widths," and you can select the width of both your entire blog and the sidebars! It's a nifty tool from Blogger, and definitely helps to give it a little bit more of a "polished" look.

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  4. Thanks! Useful for academic-writer me as well!

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  5. Can't tell you how much I needed this advice this weekend! Determined to get my writing mojo back in time for Nanowrimo.

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    1. Fantastic! I for one find myself needing to take a little more of my own advice, especially with NaNoWriMo coming up! Good luck with your writing mojo :)

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Thank you so much for your comments! Please feel free to share your thoughts here; I look forward to engaging in conversation with you!

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