Happy New Year!

August 27, 2007 at 9:19 am | Posted in Jessica, time management, writing | 1 Comment

I am a bit of a professional student, so while most folks may think of January as the start of their new year, I am used to the academic calendar and the new year ushered in by September. A recent post on our WordPress friend’s blog, Curious Lady, had me thinking about this new year and the goals I had over the past year as well as my goals going forward.

And a big one, both going forward and back, is time management.

As I’ve tried to improve on the why and how I spend my time, I have realized with greater clarity how closely aligned my time is with where my energy and attention are directed. I have found that I am easily distracted, which has me digging deep to re-evaluate and re-set my priorities so I can better align that energy and attention with my goals.

Two sources I wholeheartedly recommend as help aids are the book, Time Management for the Creative Person by Lee Silber, and the Blog, Author MBA, the latter of which dipenses invaluable advice about writing as a business venture. After all, as writers we are also entrepreneurs.

So in the spirit of sharing what I’ve learned, here are some tid-bits I have acquired over this past year with regard to time:

Pay yourself first. Similar to funding your IRA every month, take stock of what you need to do for you every day, and pencil those items in first. By applying this practice to your writing, pretty soon sitting down to write every day becomes as much a habit as brushing your teeth or sitting down to dinner. Once you pay yourself first, you can plan the rest of your resources around those priorities. Research says it takes approx 29 days to form a new habit. Give yourself the month – what do you have to lose?

Assess your relationships. I have very limited spare time so I am fiercely protective of it. The people who truly care about me know and respect that I am pursuing the writing life and I so appreciate that they give me space, let me breathe, and do not make unfair demands on my time. The writers I know, who can honestly say they are also pursuing the writing life, understand that the writing comes first because they do it too. Both groups give me their understanding. If you don’t fall in either camp, then you don’t align with my goals and therefore don’t provide a healthy relationship for me. My wants are simple – please don’t make me feel as though I have to reassess you. (I don’t have little ones, so please, moms, if you have some tips on how to manage eeking out your writing time I hope you will share!)

Surround yourself with positive energy. Negativity steals energy and attention. You will have a better chance of restructuring your time when maintaining focus.

Feed your soul. We’ve mentioned it here when Marley visited with us and it’s the topic I referenced from Curious Lady’s blog: Writers Write! But in fairness, we have to feed the well, too. So whatever it is that supports your creativity and keeps your muse happy, put that activity on your priority list.

No is a wonderful word. How many times have you gotten yourself in a situation in which you did not want to be because subjecting yourself to the torture was easier than coming out and saying no? Myself being a repeat offender, I have learned that in the end I am only harming myself by allowing such situations to happen. Saying NO to something you don’t want to do frees you up to do something you do. It’s OK to say NO! The people who matter will understand, and if they don’t, do you really want to be associated with them anyway? And if you need to get a pep talk on saying no, I recommend reading Alexandra Stoddard’s Time Alive.

Email is a killer. Although I love this blog, I regret to have to add it to this bullet point. Get an egg timer. Set a limit. Do a commercial segment’s worth of email at a time. Whatever the case, set a limit on the amount of time devoted to email and blog reading. And don’t start your day with email. It’s far more productive to start with a more tangible task.

Don’t touch mail twice. Dispense with mail items as soon as you get them.

Make a daily to-do list. Best done in the evening so you can start the next day with some clear objectives. Checking items off the to-do list is a huge boost to the feeling of productivity and helps create a positive cycle of task mastering.

Do you want to be at the same point this time next year?

One last thought on time management:
Tough love. This kind of overhaul isn’t for the feint of heart.

I wish I had the magic formula to help make this process easy and straightforward. But if you can stand to declare yourself a writer, put yourself out there, and face rejection, I believe that you are tough enough take back control of your time.

Whether your new year is based on the annual, academic, fiscal, Chinese, or lunar calendar, may you find ways to steal back some time so that it won’t feel as though it’s going so darn fast!

Have a great writing week!
-Jessica

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  1. […] that this week’s topic was ‘time management’, I let loose an inner groan. I really have very little else to impart on time management, and could, quite frankly, use all the help I could get on the […]


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