I did some serious soul-searching this week regarding my writing and what direction I wanted it to take. For months it’s seemed like I’m barely keeping up with my projects, let alone able to write regularly. I’ve known for years that I have terrible time management skills, but recently I’ve been taking on a lot and the lack of those skills was starting to seriously stress me out. So I did some research into how I could fix this.
Some of the suggestions were obvious things that I’m just not doing, and a lot of them were just “buckle down and actually do the work.” Something I definitely have trouble with. 😉 But basically, the articles I was reading (more or less everything on the first 2 pages of a google search for “time management skills”) said to think hard about what you want out of life, especially life in the next couple of years. Make a list of measurable goals then break those down into smaller and smaller (measurable) pieces. So for example, if you want to get out of debt, your long-term measurable goal might be “pay off both credit cards.” Your smaller pieces might be “Pay off $500, $1k, $2k.” Each month, create a list of goals that you want to accomplish that will further your greater goals, and every week, craft a to-do list that directly affects those goals. Anything that doesn’t 100% support and further those goals… they are 2ndclass priorities. You have to get your goal-oriented work done before you can work on the 2nd class priorities (if you have time!).
So for my debt example, your monthly goal might be “find a budget that works” and “do 6 hours of overtime at work.” Your weekly goals, then, might be “Do 2 hours of overtime this week,” or “Research how to refinancing works.”
You then make daily to-do lists that are based on your goals. For me, I’m breaking them into “lunch at work” and “at home” and planning one task for each. Work tasks are simple busy work (such as researching refinancing, for example!) and at home tasks are more intensive.
I’m also making sure to schedule lots of relaxation time, since I know my own capabilities and being overwhelmed by stressed or feeling trapped by a to-do list can cause me to cycle into depression and get set back by weeks. With this in mind, I make sure my “at home” tasks are manageable (saving larger tasks for weekends) and that there are least 2 nights a week dedicated solely to laying around and doing nothing.
As part of this goal process, I’ve decided to stop the Bradbury challenge. My intention is to write and publish novels. Short stories are great fun and awesome practice, but writing one a week involves a lot of writing time that I could spend working on my main long-term projects.
Hopefully some of this goal-planning advice is helpful to someone! J