Time management for authors is a subject close to my heart. When I decided to embark on a writing career I had the naive view that it was all about writing the books I love and then launching them on an unsuspecting and hopefully appreciative world.
Being an indie author is a somewhat different proposition. I find myself hopping from one activity to another like a somewhat manic flea at times, trying to fit in writing, revising, researching, marketing and cooking the occasional meal and doing the laundry.
I’ve come to the conclusion that organisation is the key and that starting to plan my days better would be a big help in getting things done and also ring fencing my writing time while keeping up to date with all the other things I’m trying to do. Naturally halfway through writing this paragraph I thought of three other jobs, completely essential, which I needed to go and complete before I finished this blog post. Like I said, it’s a work in progress.
However, I’ve been doing this for a few months now and I do think I’ve developed some idea of how to manage time better. This is obviously within the context of the other things we need to do. My other job is part time, running a dance school, so I need to fit in around that. I also have a home and family and one or two voluntary activities that I’d like to find time for. Some of you will be fitting in everything around a full time job. I’ve done that and it led to far too many three am writing sessions leaving me bleary eyed the next day, so I’m lost in admiration of people managing that one.
My guide, based purely on my own experiences, would run something like this.
- Make a list of the roles you play. You’re going to want to allocate some time to each of them. They are not all equal and they will change. For example, my roles would include dance school owner, writer, mother, home manager, publicity and marketing person etc etc. Ten years ago the role of mother would have needed a bigger chunk of time than it does now.
- Use lists. Even if you don’t do everything on the list, it helps to have a guide.
- Don’t take on too much. Listen to me on this one. I am an expert at ignoring my own advice.
- Let people help you. I’m so bad at this, it’s untrue.
- Ring fence writing time. If you’re working at home you need to make sure people know that it is still working. And that can be hard.
- Have time off. Writing might be the most fun you have all week but there is still a world out there and no job should be 24/7 or 365 days a year. Even if you’d like it to be.
- Keep a diary or calendar. You will forget important things. I just lost my diary, I left it at one of our dance halls and it has vanished. I now need to put all my vital information into a new diary and I’m totally bewildered until I do that. Most normal people use an online diary but I’m strange and I like paper, whatever the disadvantages…
- Set deadlines but make them realistic or you’ll die of stress. If you’re having deadlines set by other people, argue if you think they’re unrealistic. It’s worth it.
- Don’t panic if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Take a deep breath and just do one thing. The rest will follow.
- Keep computer use under control. The temptation to keep checking social media or e-mails is overwhelming. It wastes hours of the day. Give yourself a set amount of time and try to stick to it.
- Use a timer. I got this idea a few years ago from an online home organisation site called Flylady. I have to say this site makes me laugh in places. There’s so much stuff on it that it’s mad and it’s all very cosy and very sweet and not always my sort of thing. BUT if you’re feeling overwhelmed and not sure how to get moving, I think it can be great. I still use some of the techniques I learned from it and the best one, if I’ve got too much to do and am about to explode, is using a timer and setting myself short bursts of activity.
- Enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re a writer, you’ve got the most fun job in the world. Try to appreciate that…