Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tackling Time Issues

“It was really just a hobby that snowballed.” - Dominic Knight

I believe my problems with time issues stems from the fact that I had a very different life before I became a published author. In that other life, writing was a hobby. Hobbies are fun activities you do in your spare time when your work is all done.

Switching gears in my mind that writing is now work and everything else is a hobby hasn’t been an easy transition. I’m not complaining. Seeing my manuscript turned into a book has been a dream come true. It’s simply that changing from hobbyist to professional is a bit more daunting and time consuming than I ever imagined.

However, the response to Monday’s post made me realize I was not alone in my need to develop better time management skills. Therefore, I planned use today’s blog to write about helpful time management tips.

Obviously authors have a huge issue with time because Googling ‘time management for writers’ resulted in 15 million hits. I’m no pro on this subject, but even I figured out wading through all these sites would not be in my best interest or a valuable use of my time.

I checked a few sites and found mostly common sense rules, such as keep a ‘to do’ list, work at the time of day you are most productive, designate a workspace and set realistic goals. These are things I do already, so maybe I don’t really have a problem.

After reading “Time Is Not on Your Side: Time Management Tips for Writers,” by Michael Stelzner on copyblogger I realized I have a big problem. Step one in the article was a test to find out if you are a time waster; step two, a time log to help keep track of your activities and the time they take; step three, a form to help you set goals.

I took the test. I’ll never reveal my score—I’ll only admit that I qualified as a time waster extraordinaire. I printed out the time log and goal setting forms. I am ready to take the plunge and begin to change my bad habits when…well…as soon as I have the time.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: Dominic Knight, time management, hobbies, Google, copyblogger, Stelzner,


Galen Kindley said...

I transitioned from a part-time, get-to-it-if-I-could, author to full-time professional after my retirement in March. It’s quite an eye opener.

I’m just now getting the social networking stuff ramped-up. And, I’ve learned, as my publisher warned me, it’s a real time burden. How could I have possibly done this kind of thing, and, produced at my “day job.” You know, the one that actually paid the bills. I guess the answer was, I didn’t. I ignored social networking, now, I’m swimming upstream trying to catch-up.

Best Regards, Galen

Alexis Grant said...

I think this is something we all struggle with, especially since the Internet offers endless distractions! It's all about finding what works for you.

Anonymous said...

I once took a Paul J Meyer Time Management course. The instructor made all of us log - for a whole week - every activity we did each day in 15 minute increments. Then you had to categorize and grade each segment of time to see if it was an activity that moved you toward your goals greatly, fairly, so-so, poorly, or completely counter-productive.

The results were devastatingly revealing - how little my time and energy was being spent on attaining my goals. but identifying the problem is the first step in solving it. A month later we did the same exercise and the results showed tremendous improvement.

Great experience, a real eye opener.

The Old Silly from Free Spirit Blog

Helen Ginger said...

We all waste time. Even the most organized person wastes time somewhere during the day. It's just how much and where we waste it, I guess. I know I could be more productive. Definitely.

Straight From Hel

Karen Walker said...

Thanks, Jane. It is an issue we all struggle with, and I am an extremely organized, disciplined, non-procrastinating person. What's been working lately for me is to set priorities first thing in the morning (not too many or I overwhelm myself). Then whatever I get done after that is gravy.

Karen Walker

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

We have a lot in common, Galen. Internet distractions are a big problem for me, Alexis. Sounds like a course I could benefit from Marvin. Helen, I guess if we didn't waste at least a little time we'd all go nuts. Karen, you have the right idea. It would be much better to end the day thinking about the extra things I managed to accomplish rather than all the things I didn't. Thank you all.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thanks for that link - think I'll go take the test, too.

And I can hardly recall my life before becoming an author & speaker. It definitely changed, though!

L. Diane Wolfe

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Jane- 15 million hits on time management for writers...huh... LOL-

But wait- staring out the window is part of writing- mindless computer games- all get you to that place you need to be to write...don't they?

Good luck and thanks for the great post.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I love it! :) Yes, don't we all struggle with the time element of writing? I'm off-track today, so tomorrow I'm in "time-out." In other words, I'll burrow into the public library with my laptop until I get back on track.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, time management is something we all struggle with at some point. Fortunatley for me as an illustrator, there are times when things can be done off the computer, so I'll just shut that distraction down. Other times, I'll merely unplug the network cable. That seems to help me out alot.

Elizabeth Saunders-Time Coach said...

Yep! Time management is huge! After hitting the burn-out level as a full-time freelance writer for two years, I've developed systems that I share with others as a time coach and trainer. and

And I'm happy to report that it is possible to write for a living and have a life!

Morgan Mandel said...

I'm sure I would flunk that test.

Morgan Mandel

Patricia Stoltey said...

Looks like you struck a chord with this post, Jane. I'm trying to get organized, but right now the To Do List I started is downstairs, and I sat down at my computer upstairs "just long enough to send an e-mail." I've been here two hours, reading blogs, commenting, and checking tweets from time to time. And I haven't sent the e-mail yet.


Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world