John Maxwell says, “Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have.”
Should you focus on time management or prioritizing? To me they are one in the same.
There are several techniques that I teach my clients when it comes to time management for writing and publishing their books.
Here is a brief overview.
1. Use writing sprints
These are my version of the Pomodoro Method. This method, came about in the 1980s, the same time as Cheers, Cabbage Patch Kids, and Alf.
If you’re not familiar with it, you will be happy to know about it. It’s a time management method that was invented by a college student who used his tomato (pomodoro in Italian) shaped time to create work intervals or sprints.
During these 25 minute segments there is intense focus on working on a task. After these 25 minute segments a short break is taken.
Each guru has their own version of this method.
My version is writing sprints.
The technique I teach my clients is to write for 45 minutes straight with complete flow. After 45 minutes people have up to 2,000 words written. That’s the power of focused time!
2. Focus with a “Later” list
You go on to Facebook to post one thing and connect in a few groups. A few minutes later you look up and it turns out it’s three hours later. Have you ever done that? It happened to me on Saturday.
Where did that time go? Seriously.
Then I remembered that in between I had random thoughts of gifts I needed to buy and made some visits to Amazon’s, American Eagle’s, and Uncommon Good’s sites. Who knows what else I did.
Maybe Buzz Feed called out to me or maybe I had to take a quiz to see what celebrity I most look like.
If I would have used the power of focus and grouped my Facebook activities followed by my shopping activities, I am sure it would have taken much less time.
One way that I know to do, but don’t follow well enough on the weekend, is using a “later” list.
When I am focused on a specific project or task and the thought of something else I should (or WANT) to do comes into my head I write it down on a piece of paper I keep next to me. Every week day I have one of these lists. It keeps me focused.
This is a technique that I teach my clients to use when they are writing their books. It is especially helpful when they are doing research because, well, we all know what happens when the Internet is involved. Distractions! Squirrels!
The power of focus is huge and will allow you to either accomplish more in a day or accomplish the same amount in less time.
3. Know how long it will really take
Have you ever heard that people estimate it will take 2/3 of the time it actually does to complete a project?
This is something I heard 20 years ago and it has stuck in my mind ever since (especially since I used to be an engineer).
When you are working on a large project, such as a launch or writing a book, time estimates are important.
This is when having a structured approach with each step involved broken down and a weekly check in on progress can keep you on track.
Time management is so important to complete a project that is on a deadline.
If you want to know how close you are to your time estimates track yourself for a few days on different tasks. Estimate the time and record how long it actually takes. You may be surprised by the difference. This will tell you how much of a “fudge factor” you need to add to your estimates to get a realistic time-frame.
For example if you estimate it will take you 45 minutes to do something and it actually takes you an hour. The ratio of actual to estimated time is 1.33. If you find this to be consistently true when you estimate time, then your fudge factor is 1.33. In future projects take your estimated time and multiple it by 1.33 to get a better estimate of the actual time it will take.
Knowing the actual time something will take will help reduce your stress and overwhelm and get your book done.
4. Schedule your priority items
For better or worse, I am very open about the mistakes I make. I think that everyone can learn from them.
Back at Thanksgiving I was in a panic. When I checked my scheduler, I realized that I had an appointment the morning after Thanksgiving when I had family plans and Wednesday afternoon when I was supposed to be half way through my 11 hour drive to my sister’s. On top of that there was one more conflicting appointment.
It was all my mistake. I had assumed that no one else would be working the afternoon before or the day after Thanksgiving. Of course, the U.S. is the only country that celebrates Thanksgiving on these dates so clearly I had put no thought into that.
Scheduling things out ahead of time, including your time for writing your book, will keep your life so much more calm and productive.
One thing that I have all of my clients do is schedule writing time for their book in at the start of the week. That way they have the required time blocked off to complete their planned writing for the week and the book is completed on time.
Fortunately for me, all people impacted by my scheduling mistake were understanding AND I now have a system in place to immediately block off holidays and even tentative travel plans so there are no conflicts.
Yes, I also do schedule my writing time, which has allowed me to publish 6 books and help many clients see theirs published too.
If you really want to write a book, schedule a time slot at least 5 days a week to work on it.
5. Have a morning routine
I am an odd combination of liking to have things completely full in my schedule and liking to have some breathing time in there as well.
One of the non-negotiables in my day is my morning routine. My personal routine (after I drop off my daughter) is a devotional/prayer, reading affirmations, reading my life plan, meditation, and reading part of a business related book. It sets the tone for my day and helps me manage the time for my entire day better.
This is something that I just started early fall and has made a huge difference for me. I’m no longer scrolling through MSN or Facebook, or catching the next story on The Today Show, when I should be starting my work that I love.
It gives me a focused start, and puts me in the right mindset. It’s a perfect marriage of time management and mindset that transitions nicely into my scheduled writing time.
There are 5 tips to combining priorities and time management to get your book done!
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