BECAUSE I PROBABLY have no business writing about time management, I didn’t finish my first post on the topic, A How Not To for your To-Do: A Writer’s Attempt at Time Management.
In the first part, I offered a bit of a narrative about a typical day in my writing life, and how I strove to work through my to-do list: ghostwriting the first chapter of a book about achieving success in business, querying an agent, reviewing a friend’s edits, and, finally, that blog post. (Don’t forget Twitter, bless it, and email, and more Twitter and more email).
What I didn’t get to was a sweet and succinct little bullet-point style list of tips on how you as a writer can manage your time better. Fortunately, the clever folks at (Resume) Writer’s Digest have already done just that.
The site’s recent post, 7 Time Management Tips for Resume Writers, was written with resume writers in mind, but the suggestions also apply, almost more (to my mind anyway), to creative writers and journalists, who have juggle a range of right and left brain writing and administrative tasks as part of their day.
What else can I offer on a topic which I am still wading in?
- Don’t be too ambitious. I am a freak who writes lists for lists, and I love nothing more than a several-lines long to-do list. Oh, I do love something more: Looking at said list at the end of the day and seeing pen strokes through every item. A lot of the time, I set myself up for failure and think I’m superwriterwoman. And at least two tasks are bare, their words glaringly clean with being ignored and left behind. By setting realistic goals, you’ll feel good about what you’ve done instead of feeling like you’ve come up short, when you should really be patting yourself on the back (I still use this expression; I also give high-fives and thumbs-ups).
- Ignore advice about time management for writers. That is, after you’ve read it and figured out what works for you. We all have different rhythms. There is a time of day to think, a time to write, a time to do all those tasks you distract yourself with: Facebook, cleaning the toilet…. I write best first thing in the morning, without speaking to anyone, even my alarm clock (Actually I don’t want to wake up, but thank you, alarm). My husband, however, can’t imagine having a coherent thought before noon and won’t start writing an essay until at least 10 o’clock at night. So, determine when you can be most efficient at certain tasks, get in your groove, and go with it.
- Get some air, and some face time. Very few time management tips for writers mention the importance of fresh air, of exercise and mind-wandering time, not to mention getting out into the world. Among the living, writers can observe humans, how they gossip, the crooks in their faces. Since most of us are writing about people, it’s important to get out there and watch how they live once in a while. Even if you can only step out for bananas and bread, ‘Come home with a face,’ as some writer once said.
What helps you manage your time as a writer? What does your writing day look like?