Monday, October 8, 2012

Scheduling: Mischief Managed

In a previous blog post, fresh off my new "success" with The Grim, I found myself swamped: my indie author life in one hand, my personal life in the other.  My two babies (my novel and son) could not seem to agree; each wanted my time all to themselves.  I found that success, on both fronts, would come from some good ol' Steve Harvey advice.

A viewer/listener had asked Steve how he managed to be so successful.  Besides prayer and fairness, Steve confessed his secret was scheduling: he plans every hour of his day.  Even if he is just watching television, he knows for exactly how long he's going to do that, and he never wastes an hour, from the time he gets up until he lays down.  I took this information to heart, and for you busy indie authors out there, I think this will help you, too.

If you're like me, you have a full plate.  You're trying to write, blog, maintain social media sites (and there can be quite a few of those), promote and hone your craft all at the same time.  And that's just your author schedule.  First, create a list of all the things you need to do as an author, and make a second list for your responsibilities at home.  Find a pocket appointment calendar (or, in this technological age, make use of your smartphone or tablet scheduler) and divvy up your time.  Here's some tips on setting your schedule.

1. Assign a specific day for larger tasks.  Some things just take a lot of time to do.  Give these time-consuming tasks a large block once a week for efficient management.  For instance, I write all my blogs on Tuesday mornings.  I make a list of all the blogs I want to write that day, and block off my entire morning, from 7:30 until 12:30, to get them written.  I don't do anything else but write blogs during that block of time (that includes taking anything other than emergency phone calls).  Whatever blogs that do not get written in that block of time get scheduled for the following Tuesday.  If you know a large task is going to build up on you if you wait a week (like say, emails), schedule smaller intervals daily to stay on top it.

2. Be realistic about how long things take, and leave room for commutes.  I have "School Pick-up" on my schedule for the days I have to get my son from school.  So my schedule also allows for my travel time to the school and the time I am in que.  However, the que line for dismissal is a long wait; I make use of this down time by scheduling "Read for Book Review" in the twenty minutes I'm waiting for school to let out.

3. Schedule some leisure.  Block out time frames to do things you enjoy (other than writing), and plan daily family time.  All work and no play can make anyone a grouch.

4. Write, daily.  You are a writer.  You cannot be a successful writer if you do not find time to write.  Know yourself and the time it takes for you to get focused and churn out material.  For me, I know I spend at least 30 minutes rereading my previous material and about 30 minutes dawdling for ideas.  I block off at least two (2) hours of writing time a day; that way I know at least one hour was productive.

5. Be flexible.  We all have those last minute upsets that throw our whole day off.  You had planned to write before you started dinner, but Mikey threw up at school so now you have to go get him and the rest of your afternoon will be spent in the emergency room.  Bend with the events, but be sure to reschedule whatever you had planned that day so that everything gets done.  Life throws us curve balls; that doesn't mean we have to strike out.

It will seem like a lot at first until you get the hang of working from a schedule, but I've been doing it for several months now, and I've never felt so organized and motivated.  The only days I'm truly overwhelmed are the curve ball days--and let's face it, they happen.  So if you're tired of the ticking time bomb, even if you're not an author, try this method.  And be sure to let me know how it works for you.

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