You know the scenario. You have a list of writing projects you want to do, but for some reason, no matter how many hours you spend writing, there are always more projects than time. It’s the productivity paradox. The more writing time you find, the more projects show up to fill it. This can lead to a cycle of frustration as those goals you set for yourself never seem to get met.
The problem isn’t the number of projects. The problem is one of priorities.
For this weekend’s assignment, I want you to boost your productivity.
Debbie Ridpath Ohi (http://inkygirl.com) posted about time management skills for writers and suggested keeping a work diary to find out where your writing time is going. It’s a great way to start this weekend’s assignment, but we’re going to take it the extra step. How do you make the time you have more productive? That what this assignment is all about. Are you ready? Let’s break it down into steps.
1. Identify the main projects you want to work on. If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you probably have a list or two of projects you want to tackle already. If not, make one.
2. Accept that there are a limited number of work hours available. Sure, you might have 100 things on your to-write list. That doesn’t mean you have to write all of them at the same time. Thinking you have to do everything RIGHT NOW is a direct route to frustration.
3. Divide your work time into chunks. Since I write full time, my chunks of writing time tend to fall naturally into days. So for me, a five-day work week = five chunks of time. It doesn’t matter how many chunks you have, or how much time is allotted to each, as long as you have identified the time that you have available to write.
4. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Choose the projects you want to tackle first. But there’s a catch. You can’t choose more projects than you have chunks. And in the case of large projects, you should choose less.
For example, I have five chunks of time. Currently they are divided like this:
- Monday: Queries / Current Assignments
- Tuesday: Blog posts/ Current Assignments
- Wednesday: Book proposal /Current Assignments
- Thursday: E-Book / Current Assignments
- Friday: Research (job searches, new article ideas, learning about new markets, researching projects at hand.)
It also helps to realize that some writing goals may fill more than one chunk of time per week. Last year when I was working under some tight book deadlines my work schedule looked more like this:
- Monday: Book deadline
- Tuesday: Book deadline
- Wednesday: Book deadline/ Current assignments
- Thursday: Book deadline / Queries
- Friday: Book deadline/ Research
When I had time to work on something besides the book, I did. When I didn’t, it was book deadline all the way.
5. Allow yourself some wiggle room. What does this mean? You’ll notice four days on my schedule are divided by “/current assignments.” That doesn’t mean I’m doing both blog posts and current assignments on Tuesday. It means I am doing one or the other on that day. It’s my way of being flexible. I know that I have no control over when editors will call me up and say, “Hey, I need an article. Can you write it by next Wednesday?” To accommodate requests like those, I have to be able to spot the places in my schedule where the work will fit. If I have no working deadlines on that day, I work on the other writing goal instead. You should allow some room in your schedule too.
6. Roll with the changes. When you finish a project on your schedule, go back to your project list and find something that will fit into the available time.
For your assignment this weekend, use this guide to come up with a writing schedule to help you meet your goals.
Do you have any productivity tips you’d like to share? Tell me about them in the comments!