Goals

Project Management For Writers Pt. 9: The Priority Trap

CalendarLast month I sent my book, The Bow of Destiny, to my editor for a structural edit. I expected the book to be out of my hands for about thirty days. This meant it was a perfect time to work on the next book in the series, An Arrow Against the Wind, as well as some of my short fiction projects.

I set a schedule to complete the rough draft of the second book and got started. I also began a hefty overhaul of a short story that was a very rough draft. I worked into a balance with these projects after weighting their priority according to my available time.

By the time I was in a steady rhythm with these projects I had accomplished a great deal. I had written several chapters in the second book and revised the short story into a cohesive draft. I expected to finish the rough draft of An Arrow Against the Wind by the time The Bow of Destiny came back from the editor.

WritingBut to my surprise, the editor returned the manuscript several weeks ahead of schedule. There was good news as she far fewer structural issues than previously so the book is rounding into shape. I just needed to address these structural issues and be ready for the next round of detailed editing.

But now I was faced with problem. Should I finish the rough draft on which I was working or pivot to edit the manuscript in progress. I had allotted time to complete An Arrow Against the Wind but I also needed to have The Bow of Destiny ready for the editorial schedule. What should I do?

This question stopped me cold for a few days while I weighed the options. I thoroughly enjoyed writing like I was on book 2. However, the first manuscript needs to be completed.

Dueling priorities had me trapped. The quandary had to be examined. I took a serious look at An Arrow Against the Wind. I knew there would need to be some structural changes to the manuscript. I decided to go ahead and do these to find out how much writing was still needed to complete the rough draft. In the end, I found that I needed much more than I originally thought. I could still write higher word totals each day and finish the draft by the deadline.

Puzzle Pieces.jpgNext, I considered all that needed to be addressed on the first manuscript. I started a fluid schedule to determine when I could finish the changes and be ready for the editorial schedule. I found that I would be well ahead of the schedule.

In the end, I’ve chosen to complete the edits for The Bow of Destiny. It needs to be completed first and be ready for the editor’s schedule. This weighed much more to me than the second manuscript. The advantage to completing the editing was that I would have the manuscript waiting for the editor and I could already have pivoted back to completing the rough draft of the next book, even have that completed.

The take-away here is that you can make a solid schedule but circumstances change. A project schedule should be fluid enough to allow for shifts in priority. Learning to be flexible with your schedule is necessary to managing projects – and for me these books are parts of a larger project. How you prioritize your projects is up to you but flexibility may be necessary.

Book Cover Green Top & Bottom Cover - CopyWhat unexpected events have you encountered that required changes to your schedule? How have you adapted to circumstances to move in a different direction while still accomplishing your over-arching goals? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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Clip art licensed via Microsoft Office

Project Management Pt. 11: Making Up Time

This is an ongoing series to help authors manage their projects better. Previous posts have covered a wide range of subjects over several months. Please see below for a list of those related posts.

TimeTime is a precious commodity and it seems we wrestle with managing it daily. Just when we seem to get things into order and have a daily rhythm any number of events can interrupt what we’re doing. As I write this, I’m suffering from the flu and have taken my daughter to the doctor for the same illness. It’s really interrupted my calendar since I’ve felt so listless. I’ve tried to work through it anyway but haven’t been able to keep up with everything. I had the same trouble last month when I was sick with a cold that disrupted my energy for my daily schedule.

It can be hard to have your schedule disrupted and then try to get back to where you were. If you had a delay of several days it can be frustrating or even difficult to re-orient yourself to what you were doing previously. Here are few tips to getting back in the swing.

CalendarIf your deadlines and goals were set in a calendar, take a few minutes to update that to the day where you are and adjust your deadlines if possible (these should be somewhat fluid since the nature of things is to encounter delays). Be realistic about your deadlines and don’t try to make them all up at once if they have a definite date. However, if you are making some time up on a few of those deadlines then prioritize – decide what can be delayed and for how long.

Once you have an idea of how you need to proceed then make a schedule for the day. Don’t over-schedule thinking you’ll get it all done at once. Consult your calendar and how you’ve adjusted your goals and then schedule your time accordingly. Follow the schedule as best you can and at the end, if you have some spare time then add something else to make up but not something out of priority. Stick to your priorities and be diligent with your schedule and you’ll find you’re working like you were before you delay.

Also, during your delaying event, if you can find time to work do what you can. For instance, I haven’t felt too energetic for several days and that’s inhibited my daily progress. But while I’ve been in the doctor’s office I’ve been working on several posts and social media via a guest wifi. It’s better than sitting around wondering when they’re going to call us back and I’ve been able to catch up some in the middle of the distraction.

One last thought – when you set your calendar and daily schedule try to be flexible enough to handle any sort of problems that can delay you. You can’t plan for – or foresee everything that will happen – but some built-in accommodation may make your disruptions less stressful in the end.

Related Posts:

Office Clocks Showing Different TimesProject Management Pt. 1: Learn To Juggle

Project Management Pt. 2: Analyzing Time

Project Management Pt. 3: Balancing Projects & Tasks

Project Management Pt. 4: The Jigsaw Puzzle

Project Management Pt. 5: Putting the Pieces Together

Project Management Pt. 6: My Own Medicine

Project Management Pt. 7: My Schedule Mole

Project Management Pt. 8: Schedule & Productivity

Project Management Pt. 9: The Priority Trap

Project Management Pt. 10: Eat, Sleep, Write

The Black Bag by P H SolomonWhat disruptions do you frequently encounter as a writer? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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Project Management for Writers Pt 6: My Own Medicine

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

This is an ongoing series about managing writing-related projects. In this edition I want to get deeper into analyzing time. The original post is here, part 2 is here,  part 3 is here, part 4 here and part 5 here.

Here’s my application of my scheduling in light of analysis of my own needs.

What I needed done. Initially, I needed to complete some short story projects, jumpstart my author platform and complete a revision of my novel for my editor. Of course the details are much more complex. I calculated the amount of time I had available within a range. Next, I calculated how long each project would take in total hours and compared how much time I had per week to identify deadline dates(note: the author platform will always be ongoing but accounting for the time is necessary). Based on that information I could assign commitment to each project during a week by day.

How I scheduled. I dedicated the largest amount of time per day to The Bow of Destiny since it is the largest project and needed direct attention for a deadline. Next, I dedicated one day a week to work on a short story. Lastly, I put in a daily slice of time for my author platform development – social media updates, blogging, etc.  All of these were scheduled as a range of time since my availability might vary depending on daily situations. The point was to have a plan to address my goals.

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Things changed so I adjusted. When I found out my novel deadline was delayed for two months by my editor’s availability, I then adjusted my schedule. I assigned less time to my novel and more to the author platform and short fiction.

What I needed done. However, I realized that I needed to address goals/priorities one at a time. My author platform was lagging so I wanted to draft/schedule as many blogs as possible and then work on several pieces of short fiction.

The result. Last week I focused on blogging and social media engagement. As a consequence I have published, scheduled or begun drafts of sixteen blogs and increased my social media engagement. This week, with so many blogs scheduled or in process, I need less dedicated time to my author platform so I can focus on my short fiction with the goal of submitting several stories to magazine markets.

In conclusion, due to my change in deadline with my novel, I’ve adjusted my strategy to focus on short-term goals to accomplish as many of them as I can in order to gain more focus on my larger project – The Bow of Destiny. While I intend to continue working on the novel as I can, its priority is lower for several weeks while I clear other projects out of the way. Recently, Robert Chazz at ChazzWrites.com has written about similar need by addressing marketing and how he needs to focus his writing in his post which has already been re-blogged on this site: What if What We Think We Know About Writing, Publishing & Promotion is Wrong? Check out his reasoning and conclusions.

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Have you started scheduling your work? Have you already found a need to adjust your schedule? I’d love to hear from you so please leave a question, idea or strategy in the comment section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today!

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Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft