I have noticed that some of the most read posts on AWF are those that help others. Advice, encouragement and motivation are all things writers seek. I am a trained Life Coach and a Writer, so I’m in a pretty good position to help.
As it is January and we are all thinking about new beginnings, let’s crack on and see what we can do for you.
This is the first in a new series of posts about WRITING & PRODUCTIVITY.
Invest some time in this, I promise it will be worth it!
The Plan – Getting the most out of your To DO Lists
- First, look at your lifestyle and needs. Many of us have family, jobs and a plethora of chores and tasks that stand in the way of our writing time. If you are living as I do with lots of fingers in lots of pies the writing chances will change daily. The ideal may be that you manage a dedicated writing day, or you may still only have evenings free.
It has taken me 4 years, but I now have a 3 day working week (sometimes more) and 4 days, 2 of which can usually be used for writing. The other learning curves are the time submissions take, even when the writing is ready and the amount of time admin and background tasks (necessary) take. This needs to be factored in.
My most productive advice is:
a) use the days your brain won’t play to get ahead on all these tasks.
b) Try your best to stay on top of everything. I write a daily list. Doing a little often is far easier than sifting through mountains of paperwork and entries trying to find the information afterwards.
2. Accept that what you can do is all you can do, we may dream of having more time, but work with what you have and try to avoid the wishing, pondering time can be important but not when it involves trying to obtain the impossible.
3. Once you have established when you have time to write think about how you feel. Most of us are aware than our energy levels change throughout the course of the day but we forget that we have can use this to our advantage. Bear this in mind when you look at your list, (I missed a step) – make a list. All the writing tasks that need to be completed today.
So now you have a list of today’s tasks. Most people treat a list like a gauntlet and just battle through it, this method is fine if it is a list of chores or something. This is your passion, you are writing because you are or want to be a writer, productivity shouldn’t hurt.
Step back, think about which are the most important tasks and number them. Next tap into your energy and tackle the biggest or most challenging tasks when your energy is high. Anything with a deadline needs to be prioritised.
I am better first thing in the morning, tea-time and late at night. So I would tackle the hardest or longest tasks before 11am or around 6pm or after 9pm.
Now re-order those numbers to fit around you and your energy levels.
4. Forgive yourself if you do not complete the list. Especially if other factors have prevented it – family crisis etc. Do try to carve time for your writing and let others know it is your time.
I turn the mobile phone to silent and check it when I take a break in case of some emergency, likewise there are people who do not answer the door, or leave the house to write elsewhere, making themselves unavailable.
Here it is visually.
I then just rewrite a quick scribbled order underneath so I can just follow a simple list down the page. I have written this example for an ‘evening of writing’. It may look fairly unrealistic and I would advise that you start with a shorter task list, maybe 4 or 5 items.
Just to clarify ‘check emails’ doesn’t mean the 500 unread ones or forwards of cats being funny, it refers to specifically targeted emails that I need to keep an eye on and may only take a minute if no further response is necessary.
It is just an example to show this method. We all know blog posts take an incredible amount of time to write. But here’s the secret… it is Sunday evening and I am scheduling this post for tomorrow (here you are reading it on Monday). Monday is a much busier for traffic on the blog AND if I don’t get it finished there are more hours tomorrow. Point 4 is important. FORGIVE YOURSELF.
Good writing targets are all about false deadlines and safety nets.