As a writer there are many different hats to wear in addition to writing. These can range from aspects of platform management to advertising. If you have limited time per week but have many different tasks and projects to address life can be very confusing. You may find yourself accomplishing less and less when you really need to do more. Part of this problem comes from disorganization. Here are some tips to untangle the knots of work you want to accomplish by applying some analysis.
1. Analyze your time: Most writers these days are making a go of being a professional on the side. However, if you are unaware of how much time you have during the week you may be expecting too much or too little of yourself. Take a few minutes to calculate how much time you have in a regular week to use for writing. It is important not to be honest with yourself about your available time so you can apply the following tips. Over-estimating how much time you have may mean being frustrated that you are not completing writing projects and tasks as expected so be reasonable.
2. Analyze your projects and tasks: This seems straightforward but take time to really think this through. Perhaps you have a novel with a deadline, a short story or two that should be completed soon, blogs to post, social media to manage and any number of other writing-related jobs to address in a week. Assign priority to the items on your list at a monthly, weekly and daily level. Assign goals to your projects and be specific about what you expect – without specificity you only have good intentions. How many hours will your project take to complete? On what are you basing your criteria for priorities? Time? Immediate income? Long-term income? How much time do you need to spend on writing-related tasks? Once you understand this proceed to the next tip.
3. Compare time needed to time available: You know how much time you have per week and how much time a project and tasks need but how do they mesh together? Perhaps you have a novel to revise and estimate 50 hours of work. If your deadline is a month away then based on your weekly available time you know how much time is available to assign per week to the revision using a little math. Now you have a reasonable expectation for daily and weekly goals. But hold on there! You also have other tasks or projects during the week to address. In this case you should scale back expectations on the revision and assign how much time you need for these other jobs. Here’s where knowing your priorities comes into play. If you know your long-term, main priority is finishing the novel then it gets both weekly and daily priority, meaning it gets the lion-share of time applied to it. However, say you need to complete blog posts during the week. Since these are shorter and need regular attention your might assign time each day to blog. Or you might develop all of a week’s worth of posts in one day and then schedule them to be published. It’s up to you to divvy up the time that meets your needs according to priorities and available time. Regardless, you must make reasonable time for each item that needs your attention during the month/week/day in order to know what to expect.
4. Be very specific: Schedule your time with specificity in order to set your expectations. If you are vague then you will tend toward accomplishing less because you don’t know what you are doing. For example, rather than scheduling thirty minutes several times a day to edit/revise a project with the stated goal of “edit”, be more precise and name what you will edit, how much for the day and how you will accomplish this goal. In other words, thirty minutes of editing several times a day to reach a minimum goal of ten pages in your novel project until you reach your allotted time for the day (remember, you have allotted time to other duties such as social media management). This gives you focus. Since you know that you should apply three hours a day to this priority then you know how to schedule it and everything else for each day, week and month.
5. Be fluid/realistic: You will often fall off the pace if you are unrealistic. What do I mean by this? Simply that you will have real-life issues arise that need your attention so expect your schedule to have interruptions. Go into working your scheduling and project management with the understanding that you need to be fluid – willing to adjust. But this does not mean give yourself excuses for accomplishing nothing, after all, this is why you’re attempting to manage the project(s) better. You must schedule with flexibility either by lowering daily/weekly/monthly expectations or having a tolerance for problems and being nimble enough to adjust for interruptions. Regardless, you are the manager of the project and you must take responsibility for it to complete it.
How do you manage your projects? Do you plan your time around a schedule? Do you know how long projects and tasks usually take? 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 Pt. 2: Analyzing Time, Project Management Pt 3: Balancing Projects and Tasks, Project Management Pt 4: The Jigsaw Puzzle, Project Management Pt 5: Putting the Pieces Together, Project Management for Writers Pt 6: My Own Medicine, Project Management for Writers Pt. 7: My Schedule Mole