Manage Your Writing Life by Managing Your Writing Time
With so many demands on your time, it’s essential that you use your writing time wisely. Time management can help you to be more productive, organized, and efficient. It can also help to reduce stress and improve your overall quality of life. We live in a fast-paced world where there is always something new to do or learn. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. We have limited time each day to accomplish everything we need or want to do.
Evaluate Your Time.
Start by evaluating how you currently spend your time. Keep a time log for two weeks, jotting down everything you do and how long it takes you. For example:
7:00 a.m. Wake up. (Could you wake up earlier to write? Do you need more sleep?)
7:30 a.m. Take a shower and get dressed. (Would it be more efficient to shower at night? Are you laying out your clothes the night before or scrambling to find clean socks in the morning?)
8:00 a.m. Eat breakfast and prepare for the day. (Are you getting just yourself ready or your family? Could you delegate anything during this time?)
8:30 a.m. Drive to work (Could you safely dictate your novel while driving? Could you take a meeting while driving? Could you take a train or ride share so you could ease into your day by reading or listening to a writing podcast or book on the craft of writing? If you take a train to work, could you write on the train?)
9:00 a.m. Start work
12:00 p.m. Lunch (Could you eat at your desk and finish up a writing project or work on one that’s been slipping through the cracks?)
1:00 p.m. Back at work (Could you take a longer lunch if needed? Or maybe a shorter lunch to leave work earlier, if that’s allowed.)
5:00 p.m. Drive home (Could you stop and pick up dinner on the way home? Do an errand?)
5:30 p.m. Prepare dinner (Could you delegate this? Take turns with other family members? Do meal prep or have dinner ready in a slow cooker?)
6:00 p.m. Eat dinner (Consider playing a board game during dinner with your kids to connect with each other better.)
6:30 p.m. Bring kids to extra-curricular activity (Could you carpool or swap with another parent? Don’t have kids or an activity? What other task could you do during this time? What writing task could you do while you wait in the car?)
7:00 p.m. Grocery shopping (Consider a grocery delivery service or order online and pickup instead, perhaps on your way home from work?)
7:30 p.m. Pick up kids from activities and get them ready for school tomorrow (Delegate this? Have them get themselves ready? Use this time for something personal? Go to the gym. Read a book. Take some downtime.)
8:00 p.m. Watch TV while working on a puzzle. (Or work on your novel. You could plot it. Research it. Or do some writing.)
10:00 p.m. Go to bed. (Go to sleep later or earlier? Play a game? Clean the house? What could you do with an extra hour?)
Do you see anything on this list that you could double up on and do two things during the same time period? Is there a writing project you want to start, but haven’t found the time? By taking a hard look at your schedule, you can identify how to either squeeze in more productivity, delegate to other people, or find more time for yourself to pursue nurturing and personal projects.
Once you know where your time goes, start setting some writing goals. What do you want to achieve in the next week, month, or year? Work backward from your goals to figure out what steps you need to take and how much writing time each task will require.
Make a Schedule.
Now that you know what needs to fit into your day (or week), make a schedule and stick to it as best as you can. Balance your work with breaks and leisure activities, so you don’t get burned out. And don’t forget to schedule some downtime for yourself – it’s important to relax and recharge!
Make a daily to-do list and include deadlines. This will help you prioritize what needs to be done throughout the day. Make a schedule and stick to it. Write down everything you have to do in a day, including writing classes, meetings, and social commitments. Then, make sure you allow enough time for each task. If you know you have a big project due next week, start working on it little by little instead of waiting until the night before it’s due.
It may seem counterintuitive but taking small breaks throughout the day can actually improve your focus and productivity. Get up and walk around, get some water, or just step away from your desk for a few minutes. When you’re taking a break, set a timer if you’re on social media or watching TV so you can get back to your tasks once your break is over.
It might be helpful to “unplug” during your break. Stay off the computer and do something else like listening to music or reading a book. Breaks can be any time length. It can even be for just five minutes at a time if you are swamped with work.
Set aside specific times for checking email and social media. Checking these things constantly can easily lead to wasted time.
Delegate Tasks When Possible.
If something can be done by someone else, it’s a good idea to pass the task off to them. Can someone else in your house handle the grocery shopping? Maybe family members can switch off who makes dinner each night. This will free up your time and allow you to focus on the things that are most important.
This is one of the best ways to stay productive, but it’s also easier said than done. Find yourself a digital or paper planner to keep track of writing projects and other tasks. Try to keep your desk organized and clear out your computer s desktop.
Keep Yourself on Track
Despite your best effort, keeping yourself on track can be a challenge. Keep this checklist handy in case you find yourself getting overwhelmed.
- Lists are your friend. Make a list of everything you need to do in a day or week.
- Start off with doing just three things. Prioritize your tasks based on importance and deadlines. After you complete those three things, reward yourself for a job well done.
- Don’t take your phone and other devices to bed.
- Set aside time for fun activities like reading, watching TV, or socializing with friends.
- When you’re free from work and family responsibilities, try to relax or meditate.
- If you’re feeling stressed, take a few minutes to breathe deeply.
In today’s fast-paced world, good time management is essential. It can help you get ahead at work, complete writing projects on time, and reduce stress. By learning to use your time wisely, you can make the most of each day. Time management for writers is not about working long hours. It’s about working smarter and using your writing time more effectively.
Related Links for Writing Time
Writing involves choices. Word by word we can harness the power and magic of words. Let’s make the most of our writing choices with today’s post.