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Dug from the movie UP

I’ve been “officially” working at this writing thing for a month now. Staying on task, not so much. I’ve been feeling an awful lot like Dug from UP and the mere thought of a squirrel sends me scurrying in another direction. Not a great start. Nor is it the manner I wish to go forth.

Amazingly, or not, time management seemed to be the topic of blogs this past weekend. Rather timely. It’s not that any of the blog posts I read were new or life-changing but taken together created a series of ahh-ha moments for me.

The first ahh-ha was Kristen Lamb’s Time Management for Writers–Getting More Done in Less Time. Who doesn’t need that?!

I also make lists every day and no longer try to just “keep it in my head.” I then look at that list and whatever item makes me cringe when I read it (FROGS)? That is what I do first. Remember, 20% of our activity is going to account for 80% of our results.

Kristen Lamb also recommends Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brain Tracy…yep that’s on my to buy list!

In the meantime, I’m working my way through all of Kristen Lamb’s blog posts on social media because I’m a newbie at all that. I’d been just fine and dandy with my little family blog (and Facebook page I opened kicking and screaming for a family reunion), but this writer’s life is a whole other beast.  Social media can be overwhelming, distracting, and if it’s not managed, a complete time suck.

I did set myself a rule early on that I could only get onto Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace  AFTER I’d done whatever my assigned writer related duty was for that day.  Most days it works.

The second ahh-ha came from Zoe Winter’s 5 More Minutes.  I literally hit my forehead.  Duh!  I’ve been a follower of the FlyLady for years. She has a simple motto: You can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes. Why the heck wasn’t I applying THAT to my writing life?

The final ahh-ha blog post came from Lynn Viehl’s Productive Task Listing. So simple. Alternate the dull tasks with fun tasks!

You know the old saying about all work, too, so try to devote a little time every day for play.

I’ve combine these ahh-ha moments.

Nailing that social media thing was my first priority. So, I pulled out an old Things To Do Today form left over from one Evil Day Job or other and wrote that in three times for my professional persona and two times for personal. Keeping up with the blogs I read came next, I’m limiting myself to checking Google Reader once a day per persona. Then I filled in the minimum FlyLady duties. I ended up with something like this:

  1. Walking and/or D&E Writing (new wordage)
  2. [30]Professional:  Check E-mail, Social Media, and Blog Comments (on my blog not following up on others)
  3. [60]General Cleaning and Laundry
  4. Professional:  Google Reader and Commenting (Twitter for re-tweets only)
  5. ___
  6. ___
  7. [15]Personal:  Check E-mail, Facebook, and Blog Comments (on my blog not following up on others)
  8. ___
  9. Personal:  Google Reader and Commenting
  10. ___
  11. Professional:  Research, Write, and/or Schedule Blog Post
  12. [30]Professional:  Check E-mail, Social Media, and Blog Comments
  13. [30]Zone Cleaning, Re-boot Laundry (put in dryer), and Hot Spot Cleaning
  14. ___
  15. ___
  16. Personal:  Research, Write, and/or Schedule Blog Post
  17. [15]Personal:  Check E-mail, Facebook, and Blog Comments
  18. ___
  19. ___
  20. ___
  21. ___
  22. [30]Professional:  Check E-mail, Social Media, and Blog Comments

Taking a page out of the FlyLady’s book I’ve put this basic list into a page protector. This allows me to use a dry erase marker to write in the date and fill in any of the blank lines with date specific tasks.

In keeping with Lynn Viehl I alternated the dull with fun tasks and made a note to end the day on a positive note.

From Zoe Winters (and actually FlyLady, too) I will take a 5 minute break after each task (see the numbers in brackets — my maximum time for said task) with a 15 minute break every hour (or four completed tasks, whichever comes first). It is all about pacing.  I think I need a timer.

Based on Kristen Lamb’s 20/80 thing I put the two things I struggle with up front. The dreaded exercise, I live in the desert, if I’m going to get my walking in it has to be Dark and Early, so I’ve got it first on my list while allowing myself Dark and Early writing if I’ve got new wordage screaming to get out. And, the bane of my existence, general house cleaning. Seriously folks, I’m surrounded by males.

I want to add yoga to my day, especially after reading Kait Nolan’s review of New U Fitness First Yoga and Pilates, but I’m not sure where it will fit yet.

This is still a work in process.  I’ve only been working with this schedule since Monday and according to the FlyLady it takes 21 days to build a habit, so we’ll see how I’m doing in three/four weeks.

So, talk to me:

  • Do you have any time management tips or tricks?
  • Have you had an ahh-ha moment about staying on task?
    • How did you act on it?