Writing Journal 72: Easy Time Management Tips

Writing Journal 72: Easy Time Management Tips

My writing journal for Thursday, October 23, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

No meetings today, thank goodness. That means that I can focus on catching up with my schedule. Lots to do.

I started with the mystery novel, as usual. It’s still going well. Although I’ve always thought that the expression: “the book wrote itself” was ridiculous, this book seems so easy. Maybe I should write a few mysteries under my own name. If they they all turn out to be this this much fun, it would be amazing. Words: 2,200.

Onward with the two nonfiction books. I send off more material to the designer; this will be the final batch of graphics. Words: 2,600.

Honey’s in a happy mood today. She can’t wait for her breakfast. I feed her, then eat while reading email.

I add most of the messages to which I need to respond at length to the “Today” folder in my email. I tap out brief replies to others, following the “two minute rule”.

Read that article, it’s excellent: if it takes less than two minutes, do it NOW. I tend to stretch two minutes  to ten minutes occasionally. If something takes less time to do right now, and more time to enter into my schedule, and track, I do it immediately, if it’s practical to do it. Sometimes it isn’t, of course: you may be out and about, and all you can do is make a note of the task.

Writers always ask me how to get stuff done faster, and for processes to manage their writing time. Scroll down for some easy time management tips.

Next, it’s time for my walk. We’re heading into the warmer months, so I need to walk earlier. The temperature’s predicted to be 30 degrees today; that’s 86 in Fahrenheit.

Back again. I’ve got some copywriting projects to work on, for holiday sales. I like to create in batches. On one day I’ll plan, develop concepts and make notes for several projects. The next day, I’ll draft them. So I set my timer, and get to work.

Lunch at my computer, while reading social media. The challenge with social media is that it can get away from you. I’ve started to track everything I do, because if you don’t track, you have no idea about what’s useful, and what isn’t. I use a combination of Omnioutliner outlines, and spreadsheets to track.

Next, back to the copywriting projects. I work on them for another couple of timer sessions, then it’s on to blogging.

I’ve received a collection of images from a client. I open Photoshop to tidy them up, and get them ready for scheduling.

The afternoon’s flown by; it’s time to deal with email again, and catch up with phone calls. I do my daily review, and the day’s done.

Now, those time management tips.

Three easy time management tips for writers

We’ve all got the same 24 hours in our day. In the time you have for writing, you need to be as efficient as possible. Here are three easy tips.

1. Write it DOWN!

You’re a writer, so write everything down. At first blush, what seems like a silly aside can trigger powerful ideas for your novel, your Web writing project, or an exciting copywriting concept.

Writers think on paper. It has to be that way, because you can only keep a limited amount of information in your mind at any one time.

If you’re a slow writer, it’s because you’ve failed to acquire the habit of writing EVERYTHING down, and that’s unproductive in two ways:

  • You’re not keeping up with the speed of your thoughts;
  • You’re allowing your logical left brain to take over. Your left brain is not creative; it’s your inner editor, if you like. It complains too much, and hates your creative right brain — your left brain wants to be in control, and is power mad.

I know the left brain/ right brain theory has been debunked, but it’s a good way of thinking about complex brain functions.

The only way to calm your left brain is to write, even if you think you have nothing to say.

2. Use a timer: it forces you to concentrate

A timer sets a time limit. Even if you hate a project (and if you’re writing for others, you will hate some projects) you can stand anything for 25 minutes.

I usually work on somewhere between five and 12 projects concurrently. Without a timer, I’d choose the projects I love, and procrastinate on the rest. With a timer, I know that even if I’d rather be mowing the lawn, I’ve only got 25 minutes, and then it’s on to the next project.

Most importantly of all, a timer forces you to write. You’ll find that as soon as you set your timer, you start writing. Ideally, we wouldn’t need a crutch like a timer. I don’t always use a timer, but I often do, because it’s an efficient way to get stuff written.

3. Trust yourself. You know what you’re doing even when you think you don’t

It’s hard to learn to trust yourself.. Partly this is because your logical left brain wants to KNOW. Its primary aim is your survival, so it watches for threats constantly. If your intuition says “no”, your logical brain wants to argue about it. It doesn’t trust intuition, or creativity.

I know that trusting your creative self is difficult. No one achieves it completely — witness the fact that I’m kvetching about the mystery novel “writing itself”. All I can tell you is that if you trust your intuitions, you’ll be glad you did.

Trust is a huge time-saver. For example, over the years I’ve learned that if I get a “no” feeling about a client or a project, it’s in my interests to say no. Yes, I may miss out on some work. But if I persist anyway, because I want the money or the credit, or whatever, at some stage I’ll bitterly regret it.

Anytime I get a “no!” intuition from my subconscious, I pay attention. As we’ve said, it saves time. Always go with your gut.

Tip: a real intuition isn’t connected to any particular emotion. If you think “no!” and you’re scared, that’s just fear. Real intuition has been called the “still small voice”, because that’s what it is.

Try these three tips. You’ll get more writing done. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

SHUSH! Stop Talking Yourself Out of Success

When obstacles arise

Are you talking yourself out of your success?

Sadly this is what many of my writing students do. They take any obstacle as a signal that they’re moving in the wrong direction. So, instead of moving forward confidently, they spin and change direction. Or they stop moving completely.

As Zig Ziglar said: “When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.”

And please, forget about the “rules”.

As this article, 5 Ways to Learn to Trust Your Instincts | Entrepreneur.com, says:

“Ignore the rules. ‘All the rules are made by someone else who had an instinct five years or fifty years before you,’ Germano says. The leaders who trust their instincts will be the ones who set the new rules — the ones who anticipate and solve tomorrow’s problems.”

Chances are, you know what you should be doing. If you don’t, ask someone who’s doing what you want to do to help you. Once you’ve made a decision however, STICK to it. An obstacle is just feedback.

Look at it this way. Let’s say that you’re on vacation. You’re looking forward to it. Your route is planned. You’re driving a few hundred miles across country. An hour from home, you hit a road block.

Would you take that road block as an indication that you should forget about your holiday and go back home?

Of course you wouldn’t. You’d detour around it.

There are always detours around obstacles. Find the detour, then as the saying goes: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

Tell the voice in your head to SHUSH… :-)

Headlines Rule, But…

Headline

Broken a Reader’s Trust in Your Headline? You’re Dead

Beck in the heyday of newspaper publishing, misleading headlines were common, especially in the tabloid press. Anything to sell papers.

Yes, readers were annoyed, but misleading headlines were so common they got used to it.

You’ll still find the occasional misleading headline in even the most reputable of newspapers.

If you decide to indulge in the practice online however, it will kill your business.

Trust is paramount online.

Never break a trust online. It’s death to your business.

If you’re wondering what set me off on this line of thinking, here’s the reason. Yesterday I wrote this blog post about ebook titles.

I said:

The title sells your ebook. It’s what catches attention. In copywriting terms, it’s the HEADLINE. If your customers ignore your title, they won’t read anything else. They certainly won’t buy.

Unfortunately, the temptation to get traffic with an attention-grabbing headline, no matter how misleading, is irresistible to some folk.

Titles are headlines. In a headline, you make a promise. You must keep the promise in the ebook, or whatever it is that you’re selling. Some ebooks I’ve come across blatantly break their promise to the reader.

If you want a successful business online, never, ever mislead.

Occasionally you’ll find that even with the best of intentions, you’ve managed to mislead a portion of your audience. You weren’t sufficiently clear in a headline.

Redo the headline.

Never knowingly mislead.

Image credit

Build trust before you need it

I’m a huge Seth Godin fan. The man’s a genius.

And here are some words to live by from Seth.

Seth’s Blog: Drip, drip, drip goes the Twit:

“The best time to look for a job next year is right now. The best time to plan for a sale in three years is right now. The mistake so many marketers make is that they conjoin the urgency of making another sale with the timing to earn the right to make that sale. In other words, you must build trust before you need it. Building trust right when you want to make a sale is just too late.”

This quote resonates for me because of my work with writers, particularly Web writers.

Many writers want to be paid top dollar for every word they write. This is a laudable aim, and I applaud it. However, the spadework for success in writing as in any other endeavor needs to be done first – people have to get to know you.

Do the spadework. Build trust.