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Time Management Tips to Write What I Really Want to Have Written

Updated on January 15, 2023
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Cygnet Brown is a high school and middle school substitute teacher. She is the author of fourteen books and a long-time gardener.

Starting With the End in Mind

There are two things I especially love about writing. The first is getting started, and the second is finishing the project. It is the stuff in the middle, the management of time that it takes to do the project that is often difficult.

It's kind of like going on a trip with kids. They are all excited about going somewhere. They wake you up in the morning of the day of the trip and can't wait to go. When you get on the road though, within five minutes the cries from the back seat are "are we there yet?"

That's why I had to come up with a system to finish what I start. I liked getting started, but I had difficulty finally getting where I wanted to be.

A Flood of New Ideas, But. . .

I am good at starting things. It seems as though every day I wake up with some new idea or project that I want to do. I decide that I want to get started on it right away. The problem comes when I start a new project one day, but then the next day I have another new wonderful idea so I start that one. The thing I know, I have a string of unfinished projects and nothing finished to show for my time. Therefore, I have so many unfinished projects lying around now that I have determined that this year I finish as many of those unfinished projects that I have started as possible. I have created a plan to make that happen.

First Step is to Get Organized

I have learned that getting organized involves structuring my finishing process around the big projects that I am doing this year.

The first step was for me to determine the big commitments that I know I want to finish. For instance, I have several novels that I have started. In addition, I have a blog that I need to work on. Plus I recently started a publishing business with a friend. That will also require a huge amount of time. I have to find time during each day to take steps to accomplish these goals.

Second Step: Delete What I Don't Intend to Finish

All of my unfinished writing projects are on my computer, therefore, one of the first things that I had to do was to clear out my computer email files and I want to keep my inbox empty. To do this, on the first of every week, I unsubscribe to any email that I have subscribed to that I no longer want to have to come into my inbox. Next, several times a day, I go through and delete all emails except the ones that I truly want to examine. Once that is done, I go through each email individually. Some I will read and delete, and some I will read and file into folders for safekeeping (such as accounting information and specific correspondence from individuals that I want to keep). The rest, I will either deal with at that moment or put into one of three folders Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If I don't deal with the email at that time, I put it into one of those three folders to look at on the day specified. This keeps the inbox empty. I try to empty my emails two to three times per day.

I also have set aside fifteen minutes per week to determine what computer documents or photo files I can delete. I usually do this on Saturday morning before the family gets up for the day. The more files I rid my computer of files that I no longer want, the more efficiently I can finish other projects that I do want to finish.

Third Step: Delegate What Someone Else Can Do Better

Some of the things that I have to do, would be best delegated. Delegating things that I do not want to do or that I do not do well is best done by someone else. For instance, in my home life, I would never consider changing my own oil or doing mechanical work on my car. I delegate that to my mechanic. I live in a rental townhouse, so whenever anything needs fixing in the house, I call them. They do all the yard work as well. This type of delegation gives me more time per week to focus on my writing. Recently I started delegating my daughter's bedroom and bathroom cleaning and her laundry to her to do. This gives me more time to devote to my writing projects.

I can delegate certain aspects of my writing as well. If I were independently wealthy, delegating would be an easy solution. I could hire a secretary to handle using the phone and other tasks. I would hire a PR person to schedule personal and radio appearances as well as write my press releases. I would talk out a book and have a transcriptionist type out what I said.

However, since money is tight, I often think that I have to do it all, however, there are ways to delegate that will not cost me an arm and a leg. Therefore, I have been looking at software that can act as machines that I can use instead of hiring people. For instance, for a reasonable price, I could buy a dragon dictation machine that can handle most of the dictation that I might consider. I can speak what I want to say, then edit what I have written. In addition, templates exist that make secretarial projects easier. As I go through completing my projects, I will continue thinking of ways to delegate those things that I no longer want to do myself.

Because I am starting a new publishing business with a partner, I have found that there are certain things that she is extraordinary at doing (marketing) and dealing with people whereas I am better at sticking with the editing, formating, publishing, and online marketing while she handles much of the in-person aspects of the business. That said, both of us will learn to deal with all aspects of the business, but one will specialize in doing what they are best at doing.

Fourth Step Schedule with a Deadline

Once I have figured out when to schedule what, have determined what I no longer want to do, and have determined what I do not want to do myself, have cleared the way to actually schedule what I want to do and then do it.

First, I schedule the deadlines that I already have in front of me that I have promised to do. The big thing that I am focusing on this year is this new business. It has become my new career path so I am treating it as a business and working on it and in it regularly.

The next big project I have this year is that I have promised myself that I will finish another novel this year. To do this, I discovered that I need to finish the second draft by February first. I then need to finish my third draft by April first. For the remainder of the year, the book will need to go to someone else for editing. Therefore, to get the second draft done by February first, I have determined that I will need to add 560 words per day five days per week in order to get that second draft done by my deadline. I have the second draft of 560 words per day scheduled until April first. I will schedule the rest of the tasks for getting this novel published novel after I finish these aspects of the project.

I have learned that I have a tendency to over-commit my time. For instance, a few years ago, I tried to do 100 hubs in one hundred days. I was doing really well until family obligations made me stop in the middle of the project. In addition, it made it impossible for me to get anything else done. Therefore, this year, I am just updating the hubs I already have. I also want to write one new article on Medium every week. I am currently working on the hubs every day and will start writing the Medium articles once I have caught up with updates on my hubs. I plan to do this on Fridays.

I also have a blog that I am writing, but rather than over-committing to write in it every day, I have decided that I will write it two times per week. Mondays and Wednesdays. I also have a Facebook group that I am responsible to add content to every other day. Some of the content will be Hubpages, blog posts, sayings that I wrote and have updated and others will be memes, questions and pictures that I want to include to draw in participation from other readers.

The smaller projects of the hubs and blog posts can also be used to help better utilize the research that I am doing for my novel. In addition, I can use blogs to build relationships with my novel readers as well as parties who are interested in the business.

I have scheduled a daily journal (or what some people call a brain dump) that I will write every morning to help me organize my thoughts for the day including those new ideas that I wake up with every morning. Rather than jumping into any new project, I can mention it in my daily journal so that I don't forget this new idea, but I won't have to commit any time to it until I am ready to do so.

I scheduled time each day to go through the projects on my computer to determine what to do with them. That way I do not drop the ball in my project of determining whether I should delete it, delegate it, or schedule it.

I have scheduled time at the end of the day to determine what I have done that day, and to fill out more specific information concerning what I want to do the next day. That way, I can start the following day without wondering what I want to do that day.

Some things are tasks that can be done in an hour. All I need to do with those are to schedule the time to do them and do them. Other things that I want to do are projects that need to be broken down into tasks and scheduled over a period of time.

Focus to Finish and Enjoy the Results

Once I have finished updating my blogs and cleaned out and made better use of my emails, document, and photo files, and utilized the information that I have already accumulated is making my writing career a whole lot more productive, I will start working on and better implementing other aspects of my writing career as well. For instance, once I have lots of good content, I will dust off my contact files and begin the newsletter that I have been thinking of starting. Because I have content online, I will have more time to focus on public relations and marketing the books that I have already written. By finishing what I have already started, I will have streamlined my work so that I can eventually sit back and enjoy my results.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Cygnet Brown


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