Saturday, October 25, 2014

Managing Time Before It Flies Away

Time management? Pardon me while I laugh hysterically...I do this the same way I do everything else, by the seat of the pants. No spreadsheets, no color-coded calendar, little to no system...

Well, ok, let's back up. My mother always said if you arrived on time, you were already late. Hence I show up at meetings 10 minutes early. Sometimes the most interesting conversations can be had before the meeting actually begins, as it turns out. To be fair, I'll admit that at the day job, I do have a color coded calendar app.

I'm one of those people who was born with the ability to tell myself when to wake up. If I need to be up at 4:30 AM, I'll wake up at 4:28AM. If I can only have a 17 minute nap, then that's how long I'll be asleep. My Dad was the same so I figure I inherited the knack from him. I always wonder why my ancestors evolved this skill in the absence of the concept of clocks. "Must go kill saber-tooth tigers" doesn't seem to require a very exact timeline, does it?

When it comes to writing, I'm on my own schedule since I'm self publishing these days. I have a goal of how many books I want to get released this year, and I had to book my editors, cover artist and formatter a few months ahead. So I have big chunks of time in mind when it comes to the books, rather than specific dates. Can I have that cover in September? Do you have time to edit this 80K novel in November? No formatting services over the holidays? OK then, guess the new book will hit the ebook stores in late January!

The things I have to do on deadline, like these posts at Word Whores, or my USA Today/HEA column, I try to write a day or two ahead of the submission date. I like to let the drafts percolate, conduct a review and revise as necessary before I hit send or publish, as the case may be. (Although pretty much every week I'm doing the WW post the night before. Hmmm.) In the case of  USAT/HEA, I also need to allow time for Joyce Lamb, my Editor, to read the piece and request any changes she might want.

I do keep my Outlook Calendar updated on posts, guest posts, contest deadlines, ads and things of that nature...

I usually write out a massive To Do List at the start of a weekend, so I know all the things I need to get done before Monday morning rolls around. I know I won't get to them all, but seeing them written down helps me triage which are the top two or three that I absolutely must do, followed by the ones that would be sweet to accomplish if there's time. And then of course the ones that never seem to get done, like dusting the knickknack collection in the living room.

If I'm having a super stressful day, I pick the one task that's stressing me most and if I can accomplish it, then I declare victory. Make an appointment to talk to my CPA? Done! Time to watch the NFL, or Say Yes To The Dress or The Walking Dead. I might choose to tackle another item on the list if I'm really on a roll, but the stress is gone because I nailed that top item.

Yup, this is me, folks, and that's how I roll. Now I think it's time to get back to the WIP!

How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?
Dr. Seuss

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