Tuesday, 18 January 2011

A Writer's Skillset - part 2: Time Management

If the first skill is the Art of Making Time/ Making Do with Time, the second is managing it.

This is my task for 2011. I'm productive enough but I know I waste time and that's frustrating. I'd like to do other things and there never seems time. I'd like to finish projects I've put on hold for ever and see if they work. I'd like to get the projects that nearly there over the edge and furrowing out success for me in their different fields...

Time Management. Nobody mentioned un-sexy beast this when we dreamed of writing, did they?

I used to be great at it. Scarily great.

I blamed it on 13 years as a freelance journalist taking on far too much work for a whole range of very different people. I think I was pretty fantastic at it right up until I got pregnant. Even then it hung on, this wonderful skill I never fully appreciated, until my daughter was about six.

Since then, as life has become more full and interesting, my work schedule has become increasingly erratic. Heavy working periods when I achieve a phenomenal amount - I recognise them because my daughter wonders aloud why I've suddenly turned into a workaholic - and the scatty periods when not nearly enough seems to get done and time passes too quickly.

So 2011 is where I take control again. I will will check emails twice during my working day. I will keep the tasks that don't require all my brain or that are fun for when I have finished a body of work in another area, such as script-editing, story development, writing. I will make sure I have time to do mad brainstorming so my new idea will grow, and that I get projects finished ahead of deadlines without neglecting everything else. And I will have a new body of work to start sending out.

I will designate pockets of time each day/ week for
1. research, networking, reading scripts and blogs and websites full of tips (except the ones on procrastination!);
2. for chasing work and hounding my agent;
3. to read the projects I completed last year and do what needs to be done so they can be send off demanding respect and production/ publication!
4. And I will write every time there are five or ten minutes when I can without finding reasons why there isn't any point because five or ten minutes isn't enough.

And when the allotted spans of time are up in each area, I will switch, and switch again. The idea is that variety will ensure that when i return to each segment, I am hungry for the work.

And since part of this 'new me' is to do a blog once a week, you'll be able to see if it works!


  1. Yup...sounds the only way forward...she says as she driffts around the facebook webpage covering up my half written chapter, disappears downstairs to make tea, decides to groom the dog, steps into the sunshine and bemoans the fact she is stuck inside writing (when clearly she is not) etc and so forth and ..ahhhh time's up.

  2. Time Management is really important inorder for us to be productive...I myself made a promise for this new year...should have more control of time not the other way around...

    thanks for this

  3. Miguel, I think everyone seems to be feeling that way this year. Haven't spoken to any writer or artist that doesn't seem to want to wrest control back over their working life!

    T, I had a day like that yesterday - maybe some days are just meant to be like that in order to wind ourselves up to get going again. Kind of like life taking over for a bit, which really pisses off the writer in you, which hopefully translates into motivation for fiercely creative and product writing bursts.... I'll let you know it it works!!

    Thanks for the comments.