How I Re-Organised My Time to Write More
By Ruth Barringham
It's not always easy to sit at home and work as a writer because there's no one to tell you what to write or when to write it, so you have to be able to manage your own time schedule.
And it can be harder to do than you think.
I've made plenty of mistakes myself and I'll tell you my worst time management problem and how I solved it.
What I Was Doing Wrong
My first mistake was to actually try and give myself specific time frames to get my writing done.
For instance, I'd allow myself half an hour to research an article, an hour to write the article and half an hour to type up the article (I always write my fist drafts by hand) and proof read it.
Now, while that may seem OK, the problem was that, depending on the length and complexity of the article, it could take me less time than I'd allowed or more time.
And mostly, it took more time, which left me always rushing to get things done, not having enough time to do everything I'd panned and making me feel frustrated by the end of the day.
And if I had more time than I needed, then I'd do the dreaded thing that most 9 to 5 workers do. I'd spread the work out to fit the time I had.
They say that most people who work in an office could probably get their work done in 4 hours. But because they're given 8 hours a day to do it, they stretch it out to fit the time they have.
(See Tim Ferris's "The 4 Hour Work Week" which is a fascinating delve into how we all waste time when we're working and what we can do about it.)
And I'm just as guilty as anyone else of stretching out what I'm doing if I think I've got plenty of time to do it.
But I wanted to change things around this year and do less article writing (for myself and others) and spend more time writing books.
But how could I manage my writing time better?
The Solution to Having More Time To Write
What I did to overcome my time management problems was stop trying to manage my time.
You see, I was looking at the wrong thing.
It wasn't my time that was important, it was my writing.
Now I no longer consider the time it's going to take me to do something. I only decide what I have to do and then move on to the next thing as soon as I've finished.
So in order to have more time to write my books, I now only set myself a task of writing 2 or 3 articles a day, with no time limits. So as soon as they're done, I can get on with writing my book.
That way, I'm eager to get on and get the smaller jobs done instead of thinking about how much time I have and letting myself get distracted because I think I’ve got plenty of time.
So the only time I think about setting, is the time I'm going to actually sit down and START writing, but I don't put restraints on how long to write for.
I find that now that time is of the essence (the sooner I start, the sooner I finish), I get more done every day because I don't allow myself the luxury of online distractions and other time wasting activities.
I just want to do the small writing tasks so I can enjoy writing my next book.