Time Management for Writing
Time management for writing is critical to ensure your writing projects don’t get left behind, sitting unfinished in your archives. But between daily responsibilities like work, school, family and social events, and personal time, it can be all too easy to say “I’ll just put this project on the back-burner for a while”. By optimizing your daily schedule for writing, you’ll find that you begin completing projects more often.
Whether you’re just beginning to develop a schedule for your writing habit, or you’ve been stuck in a writing rut for a while, these tips should help you begin to work that writing habit into your daily life.
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Evaluate your time
It’s critical to step back and look at your life to determine how much writing you can realistically get done. The other time-suckers I mentioned before are definitely a consideration, but you should also determine how highly you value this writing time. Are you currently working 40 hours a week, coming home exhausted at the end of every work day? If you value your writing time highly, you might be willing to give up a few hours of sleep to get in a couple extra hours of writing at night. But if writing is a hobby for you, you might switch out “me time” activities like watching TV or browsing Facebook.
Consider how much time you realistically have to devote to writing, then consider how valuable that writing time is to you. You may find that writing for five hours after dinner is exactly what you want, or you might decide that one hour (or even thirty minutes) before bed is just what you need.
Stick to a schedule
But don’t try to plan out your entire life. Personally, time management works best for me in all of my tasks when I take it one day at a time. I have a great planner sitting on my desk at all times. It’s the 2017 Minimalist Day Planner by Action Publishing and I purchased it from Amazon. Personally, I love that it has space every day to write down your to-do list, as well as a section with an hourly day planner. I can square off certain hours of the day for specific tasks, then write those tasks above in my to-do list for the day.
Unless you’re already used to creating a schedule and sticking to it, even days in advance, I suggest taking it one day at a time. Every night at the end of your day, consider your plans for the next day. If you know you have a busy day ahead of you, it’s easier to plan to give yourself a little less time for writing in order to avoid stress.
The point is, if you block out certain times in the day to devote to writing, you’re more likely to stick to it. If you know you’re prone to distractions like social media or email browsing, plan to take a 10-minute break during your writing time. You can even schedule it in!
Additionally, you can set a time on your phone or computer for the amount of time you plan to write. If you’ve planned to write for two hours, with one ten-minute break in between, try setting your alarm for 55 minutes, then take your 10-minute break, and work for another 55 minutes.
Make lists and set goals
Knowing your goals and to-do items before you begin working is critical to being efficient with your writing time. That way, you won’t spend thirty minutes of your writing time deciding or worrying about what to write next. Use that handy to-do list section of your planner to write down your writing goals and objectives for the day when planning your schedule. Crossing things off of a checklist not only feels good, but it can help you stick to a deadline.
Don’t forget to reward yourself! Whether it’s that 10 minute social media break, or another piece of chocolate, giving yourself a motivating reward will also help push you to work during your allotted writing time.
You’ve heard it before, and I’m going to tell you again. Turn off your phone. Or if your writing program allows for it, even turn off your internet while you write. Make it impossible for your hands to wander to those devices for a “quick” Facebook check-in.
Have you seen the video that went viral recently of a CNN TV interview where the kid runs in and interrupts the show? There are ways of avoiding that for your own sanity as well. If you live in a full household, let your roommates/family members know that you’re planning to write and you don’t want to be interrupted. If possible, isolate yourself to a room, and lock the door if you can.
Managing your time for writing is not about writing harder or longer. It’s about being a more efficient writer. Be smart with your time. Know how much time you can realistically set towards writing, and how much time you want to spend writing. If you aren’t already, I highly recommend using a planner to help schedule your days and writing times. Remember, they’re a great place to write down your to-do list and goals so that you stay on track while writing! And don’t forget to turn off all of your distractions so that you can actually get to the writing.
Let’s talk about it
Do you struggle with managing your writing time? Or are you already an expert at using your time efficiently? What are some of your top tips for getting work done when it seems impossible? Please leave your tips and thoughts in the comments below.