Why You Struggle with Time Management

If you’re struggling with time management or productivity, take back your control by starting with writing something every day. The key word is “something” — as generic a word that is.

Something could be a journal entry, a poem, a dream, a blog post, a conversation overheard in the coffee shop, a letter to your grandmother, a short story, a memory, a character sketch, captions to summer photos, setting, exchange of dialogue, a chapter to your novel, your author profile, an epilogue, back cover blurb, news article, commenting on an author’s blog/website, a travelogue, a prayer, a wish list to Santa.

By writing something every day you are establishing a writing habit–which helps you manage your time. A writing habit will allow you to build your skills and grow your knowledge. With increased knowledge and stronger skills, you will become a better writer and feel sincere joy as you work. As a better, joyful writer, you will grow your confidence and take risks. With more risk-taking, you will meet people and learn more about the field. Increased networking will bring opportunities knocking on your door. With opportunities, your goals will be accomplished and your writing dream made reality.

Yes, it all starts with writing something every day.

But yikes it takes time!

Yup, it takes time. A lot of time. How can you possibly manage it? How can you fit writing into an already hectic, guardrail-to-guardrail schedule?

First, you need to understand WHY you want to write at all. What is your purpose?

Let’s start with something sans pressure: “I think it would be fun to write a book.”

Most of us have started at exactly this point, right? It’s a normal reason that could apply to any one of us. But where in that statement is the follow-through or the HOW?

There isn’t one. It’s kind of like saying, “I think it would be fun to sky dive.” Well, how do you go from thinking it would be fun to sky dive to ACTUALLY sky dive? Make a plan. Set goals. Call skydiving companies for prices and schedules. Ask a buddy to join you.

But what ABOUT the experience of skydiving compels you to make the plan, reserve a spot, drive to the site?

Whatever you want to get out of it. That is what compels you to follow through. The end goal. Maybe it’s to do something scary, or to honor a friend, or to prove something.

Whatever your end goal is, what you want to get out of skydiving is the incentive to get you to make the skydiving happen.

Writing takes time. A lot of time. How can you fit writing into an already hectic, guardrail-to-guardrail schedule? If you’re struggling with time management and productivity issues, this post can help you get control of your writing time so you can finish your projects and reach your goals.

Making writing happen follows the same idea. You have to understand your end goal. When you know your end goal then you will be able to set the appropriate course of action toward that end goal. Writing a book is a longer commitment than skydiving, but the principle behind making it happen is exactly the same.

Your WHY is your incentive to make a plan, to set goals, to make time to write, to follow through on your commitment. To get the writing done.

Make sure that whatever your purpose is that you are CLEAR on it and FULFILLED by it. Do not hold back, do not limit yourself, do not allow feelings of guilt, shame, or unworthiness shape your purpose.

Once you know your purpose you will be able to make a plan with an appropriate course of action that could include any number of factors, not the least of which is TIME.

Tips on making time to write

  1. For anyone who honestly doesn’t know where in the day or night you could possibly make the time to write, I highly recommend tracking your time for at least one week. This will be annoying and a PITA but it works like a charm. You will be surprised at the gaps in your day where you could either be writing or shifting tasks around to open up a larger window of time.
  2. Start with fifteen minutes if you’re feeling overwhelmed or tentative. If you can reasonably invest more time, do so. The sooner you can commit to a solid hour or two of daily writing, the faster you’ll establish this habit. The faster you’ll finish your project. The faster you’ll reach your end goal.
  3. Tack on a ten-minute ritual at the beginning of your writing time (or 3 minutes if you can only manage a 15-minute session). Your ritual doesn’t need to be fancy, just meaningful. Select two or three small activities that you can do as a way of preparing your creative center. Meditation, playlists, candles, tea – anything that comforts you and helps you into the writer headspace.
  4. Include reciting your purpose as part of your ritual. Either say it out loud, as part of a meditation, write it in your journal, whatever—but absolutely include an acknowledgement of your purpose: why are you writing this?
  5. Announce your writing time to anyone who lives with you. You must protect this session — it is all up to you. If you don’t set boundaries–and adhere to them–why would anyone else? They won’t. If you’re not going to respect and honor your time to write, no one else will either.
  6. Get an accountability partner who can check in on you at regular intervals (however you want to set it up).
  7. Grow your time. Yes, this can be done, but it takes practice. And you know how to get the practice in? (See tip #8.)
  8. Write every day.

The magic of journaling

Recording your progress helps you monitor over a period of days, weeks, months, even years how your writer self evolves and grows. Trust me, it will grow and it will blossom and it will take off down unexpected but amazing paths.

Use your journal to capture those extraordinary moments. Story ideas & inspiration linger here. We often miss them on first glance, but we aren’t at risk of losing them when they’re tucked in our written thoughts and observations.

Our journals also act as accountability partners. When we can trace our history of our writing progress, we are more likely to feel inspired by how much work and time we’ve invested. It’s difficult to keep giving up on our stories when we can see how much we’ve already put into them!

 

How do you manage your writing time? Any special tips that you’ve discovered along your journey?

Have a writerly day!

14 thoughts on “Why You Struggle with Time Management”

  1. You’ve nailed it here. If I can figure out why I’m doing anything I’ll find a way to make it happen. I especially like your tip #4: “Include reciting your purpose as part of your ritual.” I don’t do that and it could only help to refresh my memory about why I’m doing whatever it is that I want to do.

    Oddly enough as an active blogger I write every day, in the sense of leaving comments on other people’s blog posts. I’ve found that doing that kind of writing, in the moment + attentive to other people’s words/needs, is enlightening. It’s shaped who I am more than I ever would have thought.

    • Reciting my purpose helps me when I’m feeling overwhelmed or blue. There are those days you just don’t want to write because you know it could be a lousy session. But interestingly enough, it’s those sessions that make me feel so much more like a writer when I plow through them.

      I love that you bring up that part of blogging. I think we forget that any kind of writing counts, and we are building our skills through replies to blog comments, or commenting on someone’s post. I especially love that you mention how being attentive to someone’s thoughts or words helps you shape your own thoughts into words to engage and communicate. There are so many layers to writing that we don’t think about. Thank you for a great reminder!

  2. Excellent post. I did exactly as you say when I started writing–“wouldn’t it be fun to write a novel.” Well, after several college classes, a dozen seminars, more than a dozen books, multiple critique groups, and a bunch of soul searching, it still took over a score of years to get the first one out.

    But I stand by my original thought–It was fun.

    • I’m so glad to hear (read) you say (write) that! 😉 You didn’t bow down from the unexpected obstacles and hairpin turns. And now look at how far you’ve come! I think the idea of “making” time is hard to imagine until you go through a few rounds of trying to find it. Then it kind of hits you upside the head and you realize, oh, if I really want this then I have to actually work at it!

  3. Great tips Kate, I think going back to that original purpose is key. And I find my purpose can change – sometimes it’s to get work done to submit, sometimes it’s because I want to step back and just enjoy writing.

  4. Great tips, Kate! With anything in life, if we want it bad enough, we’ll make the time. Since I’m at my day job at 6:00 a.m. the bulk of my writing is done over the weekend, but I always make sure to write at least 500 words during the week. I’m a creature of habit, so sticking to my schedule isn’t difficult. Happy Writing!

    • Oh, I heartily agree with you Jill. We will make the writing happen as long as we want to. I think will power and determination are key factors, but much of the time they get obscured by external factors.

  5. Makes so much sense Kate. Journaling is my most inspirational tool where I fling ideas out into and by doing so, it gives me a place to start writing about. 🙂

  6. I agree 100%. And if I didn’t get a duplicate notification of this post, I would never have seen your reply. I was wondering why I never get replies from my comments here, and I think since you moved your blog, I don’t get your replies 🙁

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