One of the things I’ve come to realize as I close in on the end of year two of working as a full-time author (it’s hard for me to believe that it’s been that long!) is that my time management has really suffered, and it’s now my goal to get back in control of my schedule and, by extension, my productivity.
Sure, the last couple years have been fraught with schedule-rippers, most of which have been in the last year since we moved from Maryland to Florida, and most recently our six week summer RV trip, during which I’m writing this.
On reflection, my typical day at home in Sarasota involved a heck of a lot of unaccounted hours when I should have been working but wasn’t. Okay, I don’t want to work like a dog like I was the last few years of my government career, when I was working a full time job for the Fed during the day and writing a couple-few hours every night and all day during the weekends. You’d think that I’d be writing a lot more now that I’m doing it full-time, but I’m not. I’m writing some more, but not nearly as much as I should be based on the additional time I now have to write.
Why? Because I’ve been slacking off, plain and simple. This is one of the biggest problems with being self-employed and working at home. You have to hold yourself accountable, because it’s very easy to let things slide out of control until you’ve become a productivity slug, and that’s what’s happened to me. And when I say I should be putting out more, it’s not a case of rushing things or cutting corners to get books out faster. It’s a matter of using the available time during the day (or night) to the best advantage business-wise, with the core of it focused on – gasp! – writing new material. And in this business it’s important to get new books out because today’s bestseller’s are tomorrow’s backlist titles. Being an author is quite literally a publish or (financially) perish endeavor.
So, once we get home from this RV junket, I’m going to start working on a schedule, getting up at 6 AM and finishing business for the day between 4 and 5 PM. General tasks will be prioritized, with writing being loaded into the morning part of the schedule before lunch. That way, if I do need to cut out somewhere before my full work day is done, the most critical bit of business will have been accomplished. My business won’t fall apart if I don’t get the afternoon stuff done every single day, but I’ve got to put in a good four hours of writing every work day (and four hours is about all I can handle before my wrists get fatigued). And if things get too distracting, I’m going to pick my butt up and go to the mall or somewhere else where I can focus while I’m writing.
Believe it or not, time management is for everyone, and it’s a learned skill (I was doing really well at it while I was still working my day job!). If there are things you’d like to get done but you “just don’t have the time,” think again. Maybe you can’t get it done as fast as you want because you can’t devote as much time to it as you’d like, but you can accomplish a great deal if you just cut out some of the time you’re actually wasting, or prioritize things differently. Align your time and your goals, and you’ll be surprised what you can do. That’s what helped me get to where I am now, and I think I’m ready to get my butt in gear again and take it to the next level. How about you??