In my last time management post, I talked about how, as writers, we have to make the best of what we have. For this post, I have a list of practical, easy-to-follow time management steps that anyone can make use of.
Below are some practical time-management tips. It’s a short list, because I wanted to include only the most practical things.
1. Get organized. Buy planners for all of your life “compartments”. For me, that’s writing, blogging, school/church, and life in general. So, naturally, I have four planners and one big wall calendar where I keep important dates marked.
2. Limit yourself. Facebook and Twitter are awesome, but checking them too often is not. Limit yourself. Only check social media and email three times per day.
3. Stop multitasking. Multitasking makes us feel like we’re accomplishing more in less time, but we are not accomplishing anything of quality. I used to “study” while I watched television. Yes, I made good grades. Yes, I got to watch my favorite shows. But, it took me nearly three times as long to study because I was distracted. Unplug and focus your attention on one thing at a time. You will be much more productive and the quality of your work will also improve.
4. Don’t obsess. Writers like perfection. Although we should strive for quality, we should also come to terms with the fact that what we produce isn’t always going to be perfect and sometimes it just doesn’t matter. Once, I was struggling over the first paragraph of a paper I had to write. My mother warned me that I was taking too long. I told her I couldn’t think of a good first paragraph. She said, “Then, start with a bad first paragraph.” Genius! If we let go of writing perfectly, we can get more accomplished. We will actually save enough time for a revision later. It takes much longer to obsess than to revise, trust me.
5. Use it all. Everyone has tiny chunks of time throughout the day. So often we think, “Eh, what’s five minutes? I’ll check Twitter.” We can’t think like that! We must use everything we are given. My first novel was over 150,000 words. The majority of that was composed in five to twenty minute intervals at school. If I could do that as a senior without mobile devices, imagine what you can do in your chunks of time with the technology that you have. And maybe you are like I was – without the iPod, iPhone, iPad and laptop. That’s fine. In middle school I wrote in my free time as well and I used a Mead five subject notebook. Nothing wrong with that. Use what you have and use it all!
6. Break it down. That’s the biggie. Many people have long-term goals, but it is hard for them to realize that long-term goals can (and should!) be broken down into manageable short-time goals. If, say, you want to finish a novel in a year and you’re starting from scratch, what would you do? I would suggest making a to-do list. You will need to research, brainstorm, plan, research again, etc. Then, you will need to write. How long will that take? Now, determine how much time you have each day or week to devote to the project. Try to determine if this is enough time. If not, push the goal deadline back or give up something that is taking your time but isn’t as important. Okay, now you can create short-term goals for each month, week, and day. By breaking up your long-term goals, you will be able to create manageable short-term goals and, eventually, meet your major goal. You will also be able to do it without rushing, stressing, or, hopefully, shedding tears over failing.
Do you have any time management tips to add?