As a writer you need to write: that’s usually the most important activity for your career.
But there are also many other important things that support your writing, and there are many important things that you need to for the rest of your life to flow smoothly.
We’ve talked about scheduling time for doing your “deep-work writing.” Now we need to talk about scheduling a specific time block every week (or perhaps two to three times a week) where you focus on all the other things that need to get done, but that often fall through the cracks.These are to-do’s that can get continually pushed into the future if you’re not careful, but that can have substantial negative consequences if you wait too long.
Some of these items may only take a minute, or five minutes, but doing them early can save you a lot of time and money, and also reduce your stress.
Some Writing Related Examples
- Sending invoices for completed freelance work
- Following up with good prospects for potential new projects
- Sending emails to schedule interviews
- Asking clients for testimonials
Some Life Examples
- Setting appointments for car service, doctors, haircuts
- Paying bills
- Writing personal emails and letters
- Planning family events and time with friends
- Planning exercise
Create the Block of Time
Actually schedule it. Many of us tend to try to fit these things in and around the “important” stuff, but what often happens is that only some of the tasks get done, or important tasks get done late.
How much time do you need? Probably more than you think. I usually schedule a two-hour time block once a week, sometimes three hours.
Create a List
Capture everything you need to do on a list in whatever way works for you: on your smartphone, in a Word document, on a notepad, in a digital recorder. The list makes sure you don’t miss anything, and knowing you have the list allows your mind to concentrate distraction-free during the rest of your week.
Getting It Done…
First, set priorities: which of the tasks are most important, meaning not doing them now will have the biggest negative consequences?
Second, group similar items together. Examples: writing emails, making phone calls.
Third, do it!
Your thoughts on time blocks and getting the small-but-important things done?
Anne Wayman says
John, yes, blocking for the non-essentials works… except when I talk myself out of, say, exercise… the setting the time certainly helps.
John Soares says
I’ve got a time block for the small-but-important things set for tomorrow morning after breakfast.
Paula Hendrickson says
I like the idea of blocking out a time. I usually just have a space on my (paper) week-at-a-glance calendar where I jot down thing like, “Pay property taxes,” “Call cable company,” “box donations for Tuesday’s pick-up,” or whatever it might be.
I always think I’ll squeeze those things in as I can, but invariably reach the end of the work day and realize I didn’t do any of those tasks.
I’ll have to give this a try!
John Soares says
Paula, I think you’ll be pleased with how well it works. Let us know!
Good idea. A lot of non-writing tasks can be very frustrating or boring so scheduling time for that would be good. I just wish I could find the willpower to not get distracted when I go online.
John Soares says
Reika, if you’ve subscribed to the blog, you have my special report “27 Ways to Boost Your Writing Willpower.” If not, subscribe now!
Staying offline is crucial for your writing success.
Any type of schedule or time management that can be done will optimize your productivity tenfold. I love the idea of blocking and I think this is a great guide to getting started down that route.
Adithya Shetty says
Great post, Creating a to-do list is a great way to manage time and increase productivity!
Informative post, Thanks for sharing!
Sinchan Dey says
Hi John really liked your post. It helps to list down the things and plan accordingly. It makes the efforts more efficient and also gets the work done in an organized manner. I do try the same with my blog writing and stuffs related to it.