Posts Tagged ‘time management’

Telling Stories on Myself: Time Management (Part I)

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

I’m a pretty organized person. There are no papers on my desk because every paper goes into a file. While my house is hardly spotless, each object has a home and it gets there at least once a week. The only time I am late is when I get lost which I rarely do because I map out the route if I’m not sure where I’m going.  If a project has a due date, it’s done by that due date or I have a damn good reason why it’s not.

On the other hand, I don’t do nearly as much work in a day as I think I should. I have a few close friends who get a staggering amount of work done and still juggle other responsibilities like  a household, a husband, elderly parents and raising kids. When I compare how much they get done in a week with how much I get done, I flagellate myself with self-recriminating statements like “I am so lazy” and “I HAVE to get more disciplined!”

As a business owner, I’m hardly unique in my struggle to get everything done. There’s marketing my own business, talking with prospects, managing sub-contractors, keeping in touch with colleagues, doing actual client work, bookkeeping and writing. Oh, that damn writing…

I’ve been meaning to write an ebook on “Internet marketing Basics” and one on “How to Build an Online Audience” for close to a year. I’ve taught and written on aspects of these topics several times so I’m not exactly starting from scratch. But I am notorious for getting something 70% done and then moving on to the next thing. I have hundreds of half-done articles and blog posts. If I would just finish them, I would have a ton more content out on the web.

Working time to write into my schedule is getting crucial because I will be speaking on both topics at the Willamette Writer’s Conference on Saturday, August 6th. “Internet Marketing Basics” and “How to Build an Online Audience” are HUGE topics. If I am going to do anything other than overwhelm and frustrate attendees, I need to have print books ready to sell. I thought I had about 4 – 5 months to get it done. I have 13 weeks. Yikes.

Because I’m organized and never late, I assumed I was pretty good at time management. So when I saw that the topic of this month’s North West Association of Book Publishers meeting was “Time Management Skills for Writers and Publishers” presented by Marydee Sklar, I thought “Boring! What’s she going to teach me? I already know everything I need to know about time management.”

Turns out I was wrong!  I had a few fundamental, simple things to learn that shifted my mindset about why I don’t write and how I can fix it.

What I particularly liked about Marydee’s approach to time management is that she doesn’t  just give you a list of things you should do. She starts by discussing how the brain works. She talks about how the front of your brain manages executive functioning. There are 33 executive functions and they include things like:

  • Meta cognition – thinking about thinking
  • Goal directed persistence –working at something until you get it done
  • Working memory – holding pieces of information in your brain
  • Response inhibition – ADHD people have a hard time with this
  • Planning & prioritization
  • Time management – awareness of what time it is and how long it will take to do what you need to do
  • Organization – papers and files
  • Controlling emotion

As Marydee talked about her own experience of being a visual person and not a word lover, I had an “A-ha!” moment. I was sitting next to my good friend Susan who is a word lover. She can sit at her desk for hours and get lost in the writing process. I on the other, am doing well if I can write for 5 consecutive minutes. When Marydee described her own experience, I realized I’m not lazy, I’m just not a word person. I don’t think I ever realized this before because I love to read. The way in which I’m not a word person is that I don’t love to write. One of my favorites quotes is by Dorothy Parker. “I hate having to write. I love having written.”

Realizing I don’t get lost in the writing process isn’t because I’m lazy but because of the way my brain works, allowed me to quit beating up on myself about it. Now I know what I need to do is put writing time in my daily calendar, get comfortable and use a timer to keep myself at my desk for 30 minutes to an hour at a time. I’m confident that if I commit to writing an hour a day, I’ll get those books done by August.

Once Marydee explained that time management issues are a matter of having specific strengths and weaknesses, she talked about tools and tactics you can use to manage your time better. I realized I need to consider my schedule from 3 perspectives; month, week and day.

  1. Monthly – I needed to get wall calendars that enable me to look at the month view of my schedule and map out when section of the book need to get done.
  2. Weekly – Each week I need to map out chunks of time for writing, client work and marketing/admin for my own business.
  3. Daily – Take the daily To Do List and work it around the chunks of time I set aside for writing and working.

If I stick to this schedule, I won’t  wind up flitting form thing to thing all day and all week and feeling like I didn’t get anything done.

I realize these revelations are hardly earth shattering and they weren’t even new to me. What they did do is make me realize I can’t juggle personal life, work and writing a book not because I’m lazy but because I haven’t mapped out how it’s going to get done. Duh! It is such a relief to be in the solution instead of stuck in the problem!

In my next blog post, I will show you exactly how I mapped out 3 classes and 2 ebooks and how I will get them all done in 13 weeks. Oh yeah! And I still need to work too!


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