Managing Time as a Writer

Managing time is not a rodeo I’m unfamiliar with, but this past week has definitely challenged my schedule.  Between family obligations, out of town visitors, writing, editing, and critiques, I’ve been sleeping less and wrapped around my kindle a lot more than normal. On top of it all, I still have a paid job I need to keep on top of. Over the course of nearly a decade of contract work, here’s what I’ve discovered:

  1. Make time for yourself. No matter how exhausted you are, or how many projects are brewing on your plate, downtime will help clear out the numbness and cobwebs. When working on several projects at once, an agile, refreshed mind is a must.
  2. Eat real food. I can not stress this enough. Food gives you energy, and without it you’ll end up doing what I do–working too many hours and slowly lagging into a nap. I’ve gotten better about eating in general, and making sure it’s good solid protein, and boy  a difference it makes. That 2:00 lull isn’t nearly as dire as it used to be, and some days isn’t there at all. More time for stuff.
  3. Every client or project should feel like a top priority. This is another one I can’t stress enough. My clients come first because they put food on the table. I have several, and I’ve learned to block out a few hours a day for “my time”. Usually this becomes writing time, but every so often it gets filled with an emergency project. They happen. It’s called life. But it also helps my clients know I’m willing to move timelines around if they brush up against a tight deadline. If I can’t get to something right away, I at least attempt to give them a timeline, or a heads up that it will take a few days to get started.
  4. Be versatile. Priorities shift all the time. In all honesty, I prefer versatility in my work because I loathe doing the same timeline every day. Luckily, all my work is project-based, so every day brings a new timeline and a new set of challenges.
  5. Know when it’s time to stop. Yep, I’ve been working at midnight before, sleeping half a workday away. I’ve been banned from 3am coding, but that’s another story. There are days when the projects pile up. Dinnertime rolls around and I’m feeding kids, doing bath times, and racing back and forth between the kids and emails to get projects complete. It happens. But, sometimes the fatigue catches up. Know when to put a hand up and say: I’ll be focused elsewhere for the day. I’ve had to do this a few times. Whether to write, to cuddle my sick kiddos, or just lay on the couch and stare at the tv. Know your limits, and when you need to relax and refresh your mind.

While this article has no tools to help manage time, it’s safe to say that knowing your limits and your project needs helps to balance out the load. Manage your time well, and don’t forget to eat. Real. Food. Beer and chips don’t count. Okay, maybe a little.

Cheers!

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