I'm sure we have all stared at the clock and wished for our day to be over. Today, I look at the time and say, "Where did the time go?" I'm busier than I've ever been and don't seem to have enough hours in the day to accomplish all I want. Then again, there are some things I totally avoid as I'm not sure of what I'm doing and/or I find it difficult to do.
Basically, we can find time to get things done we like to do. For me, that means writing, editing and reading. But I can't seem to find the time to do marketing, talk the necessary classes to learn marketing, etc. Why? Well, fear of failure would be at the top of the list. Hey, if you don't market, you can't fail and therefore, you don't have to do other things to success. Right?
It works, only all your hard work sits there vegetating and no one reads it. Time is a hard task master as you have to allow time for a personal life. That means having fun, socializing with family and friends, getting out and seeing the world, and so forth. It means taking time to be you. But you do have to balance that with work when you are your own boss.
For the summer, I've done little outside work. I do read books to write reviews for Uncaged Books. It's a way of forcing myself to relax and read. Some books are ones I'd pick up and read to waste a few hours relaxing. Others are a chore to get through due to multiple issues. I've also gone back in to nursing, but on a part time basis for one particular patient. It's a fun thing and brings in a couple of extra bucks which is nice, but I love working with the patient so much, I'd do it for free.
With the school year starting in four weeks, my schedule is about to become overly busy. I'll be working full time for four days a week, decreasing my hours to be able to work on my writing during those days. I'll still have the weekends, but those will be busy with friends, occasional nurse work and keeping up with my reviews along with my other work.
As I indicated before, your time is you most valuable asset, so you don't need to wasted it. Spend a week of keeping track of what you are doing and for how long. Don't think about what you are doing, or change it. After the week, sit down and look at when you were working and for how long, what time of the day, what you did, etc. Did you accomplish everything you wanted during that time? Where did most of your time go?
Make three lists. One needs to be the things you have to do every day. For me, that is writing and editing. I'm going to add marketing to that schedule and stop avoiding doing it.
Okay, now that you have an idea of where all your time went, along with what you need to do, it's time to make yourself more efficient. It isn't all that difficult. What almost all your experts will tell you is to set your day up in blocks of time. For me, hour block work the best. For you, that may be two hour blocks of time. Allow time between each block of time to take care of unforeseen issues or those little emergencies.
6:30 to 7:30 AM Coffee first then read emails while drinking it. I delete or respond to those which are important and mark others to read.
7:30 to 8:00 AM This is breakfast. I may go back and read my saved email or play a game on my phone to relax.
[Important note: During this hour and a half, at least three times a week, I walk or hike in the area. I may take the dogs with me, but the half hour to forty-five minutes gives me my exercise and time to ponder. I generally eat when I get back while reading emails. If I take the dogs, they leave me alone for the rest of the day.]
8:00 to 9:00 AM I write. It may be on a book, an ad, or something like this on my website or even a review. But this is creation time. I do keep track of how many words I write in excel. (I use the sheet from 5K words per hour. which was worth the price just for the excel sheet.)
9:00 to 9:30 AM I take a break. Get water, walk around, play with the dogs or cat, or even play one of my games to clear my head. I’ll also do house work such as sweeping the floors, a wash, etcl
9:30 to 10:30 AM I edit. When you have multiple books written you need to edit them. I edit one book at a time. Each book goes through at least four edits if not more once it’s written.
10:30 to 11:30 AM This is when I put my feel up and read. It is work as I’m doing reviews for Uncaged Books. I do take notes, but I’m relaxed, usually listening to music as I read.
11:30 to 12:00 PM Lunch. I’ll admit to being a gameaholic I love to play games. Word game, MMPGs, FaceBook games, etc. My favorites end up being words games, mahjong and Fishdom. Lord of the Rings, I need an hour to really get a quest done, as a result, I don’t play it a lot. I’ll also do house work at this time.
12:00 to 1:00 PM I’m back to writing. This time is for whatever novel I’m working on or a review if I have one due.
1:00 to 1:30 PM I check my email. This is an ongoing chore as I get so many I need to clean them out at least two to three times a day.
1:30 to 2:30 PM I’m back to editing.
2:30 to 3:30 PM This is free time. Frequently I’ll go back to reading as I find it the most relaxing. I may also take a nap if needed.
3:30 to 4:30 PM Back to writing. Understand that writing encompasses setting up a book: ie plotting, formatting, character studies, scene set ups, basic drafts, etc.
4:30 to 5:00 PM is another break. This I usually get up and go outside to enjoy the birds (Ravens can be fun, love the humming birds), the lizards, checking out the plants, or sit and watch the bunnies, ground squirrels or whatever else shows up.
5:00 to 6:00 PM Another round of editing.
6:00 to 6:15 PM This is a quick break. I need to move.
6:15 to 7:15 PM I write again.
The rest of the evening is taken up with making a meal, socializing and/or relaxing. I may watch TV but I usually read while listening to music or do a class for an hour then read. With reading, I can stop and do other things and come back to it. Because I'm alone a lot, I seldom turn on the TV as I find it a big time waster, preferring to be productive. If I do watch a movie or a show, I'm knitting or crocheting while watching. If you are playing games or watching TV, those are time drains. The same with social media unless it is part of your business. Allow time for fun, but don't let it hinder your work.
School work schedule
Monday-Thursday: School from 7:30 AM to 3:45 PM I'll generally read my emails while eating breakfast. I leave at 6:30 am to get there on time. I leave school at 4 PM. If riding with another person, I have to wait until 6 PM to come home. During that time, I read books for review or block out ideas for a new book. From 7 PM (yes it take an hour to get home since I live in the middle of nowhere and love it) to 8 PM I fix a meal, eat and relax or read the emails I didn’t do before going to work. From 8 to 9 PM I write or edit. This will means 1200 to 2000 words for that day. I generally read from 9 PM until bed time at 10:30 as I’m up at 5:30 AM. I may do an extra half hour for writing or editing depending on how tired I am instead of reading.
Friday through Sunday, I follow the summer schedule, putting in seven hours of writing.
I do take one day a month off to go grocery shopping and run around town. I may also take a second day to go sightseeing or to go to a function. Those are generally done on a whim and no I don’t feel the least bit guilty for doing so. If it doesn’t take the whole day, I will put in a few hours of work. I plan the one day of shopping as it is a 54 mile round trip to the nearest grocery store or a 100+ mile round trip to the nearest big store (ie Walmart, the mall, a big Safway or Frys). That means you don't hop in your car to get a small item. If I need something, I get it while I'm in town or wait until I'm in town again.
If you look at the summer schedule you will find I have 4 hours of writing. That comes out to at least 4800 words a day. Editing is 3 hours and that is usually close to 5000 words a day. What you don’t see is TV until the evening. Social media isn’t in there unless it's part of the emails I read. I’ll be revising this schedule as I’m adding an hour of marketing which means I’ll shorten a couple of breaks to get that time.
You may want to make the productive time fit from 7 AM to 5 PM. If so, make your blocks so you have time to fit in the pesky things like phone calls, email, etc. The key is staying on task for the allotted time. Because I have the time right now, the extended schedule allows me time to relax and enjoy my day while working. I do put in at least seven hours of a day of concentrated work. I don't allow interruptions during those scheduled work hours. While on breaks, I'll use messenger, or text messages to people. I do plan my fun times as those are my rewards for staying on task.
The bottom line it so set a schedule and stick to it. Don't let the little things pull you off tasks. I let all phone calls go to voice mail if I'm working. Unless I hear the work emergency, it can wait. I turn off all notifications or ignore them. The key to productivity is staying on task.
The other thing is to eliminate those time wasters or use them as a reward. Mine are my rewards. Yes, I do set a timer so I don't get so involved in things I don't break or get back on task. I've been doing this for so long, I can tell when an hour is almost up or that half hour is done. For me, the hour lets me get into what I'm doing, then the break gives me time to chill and relax so when I go back to work, my brain is ready to get going again. I have found that more than an hour and my productivity is decreased. That second hour lessens what I get accomplished. Experiment and discover what gives you the most productivity without over taxing yourself. Those breaks (At least 10-15 min) are very important. Don't try to work for four solid hours. You will discover you get less done if you do. Also, allow time to exercise, relax, socialize and have fun with family and/or friends. It's important. All work and no play makes for a very dull person.
B.A Mealer is an author and a traveler. This is a person who refuses to grow up and get old.