Monday, December 28, 2015

2016, Give Me Those Horns

I cannot count the number of Mondays I spent getting ready for work wondering, “Where did the weekend go?” Where did the Summer go? 2015 is done and gone, but the number of projects on my list of things I want to get done is not done and is not gone. So for 2016, I am going to take the bull by the horns and wrestle me down some time management skills.
Time management is a skill which can be learned by anyone but to be successful at time management, like any skill, you must practice it whenever you can. I have dusted off some old time management training manuals and reviewed the steps:
• Set goals
• Prioritize what you want to accomplish
• Manage interruptions
• DO NOT Procrastinate

Step 1 – Setting Goals
I know the important thing about goals is they should be specific not broad. The broader the goal the more difficult it is to accomplish. Cleaning the house on Saturday is too broad a goal. Vacuum rugs, clothes in the wash, dishes in the dishwasher and organize the book shelf, these are specific goals that are easier to accomplish. The end result is the same, a clean house, but one is accomplished by small steps. The same is true for writing. For 2016, if I am stuck on a scene and not seeing the big picture, I want to think about the small things: how are the characters dressed, what does the restaurant look like. When those fill in, so will the whole scene.

Step 2 – Prioritize
Prioritizing what needs to be done can be as simple as writing a list. Lists are great. Crossing things off a list as they are accomplished are even better. For 2016, I plan to have a rolling list of things I feel I need to do, blogs, talks, festival. When are they due, what needs to be completed for them to happen, what can I do ahead of time? Hopefully, this list will keep things in site rather than me saying, “Oh, was that last weekend? I must have missed it.”

Step 3 – Manage Your Interruptions
This one is hard. Interruptions are everywhere. In 2015, I would start out planning to look at my emails, then a few blogs, see what is on Facebook and then before I know it, it is dark and time for dinner and the afternoon has fluttered away without notice. Not in 2016. My plan is to have a timer. 15 minutes for email. 30 minute to read blogs. When the timer goes off, I am done.

Step 4 – Do Not Procrastinate
This I don’t find as hard as managing interruptions. The most important thing is to recognize when you are procrastinating. Are you doing low priority tasks over high priorities? Do you sit down to do something and then find a reason to do something else. Start to write a chapter and decide you need a soda, or to call your sister, or check the mail. These are sure signs of procrastination. The easiest thing is to flip it around and use those distractions as rewards.
When I finish this chapter, I can have a soda. I don’t get to talk to my sister until I write 1000 words.

These are my thoughts on how 2016 is going to be my friend. I thought I would share them with you in case time has not been in your favor.

I hope all of you have a wonderful and productive new year.


Charles Gramlich said...

Managing interruptions is my biggest problem. Of course, I've had some doozies of interruptions.

Jewel Amethyst said...

I think my problem is trying to do too many things at once. Take for example my Christmas cleaning. I did everything and left my bedroom and bathroom for last. I began doing so after Christmas. But I started doing the bedroom, the bathroom, and the laundry at the same time. By the time it was ready to go to bed I had made a bigger mess and accomplished nothing besides doing half of the laundry. That's the same problem with writing. I try to do too much at one time.

So for 2016 I will take a page from your book. I will prioritize and do one thing at a time. Multitasking is not all its chalked up to be.

Liane Spicer said...

Like Jewel, I try to do too many things then feel overwhelmed and end up avoiding all. 2015 has been a huge improvement over previous years, though. One thing that helped tremendously was having no Internet access at home for the last three months. At the start of October I made a list of writing and publishing goals that I planned to achieve every week. Just one or two goals per week. My focus was on pending projects, or WIPs, of which I had many. Guess what? It worked. I even completed the first draft of a novel, which was not on the list, in three weeks.

There's nothing like success to spur one on, so I'm making another list for the first three months of 2016. And I'm seriously wondering whether it's worth my while to reconnect the Internet at home.