Time Management Tips for Authors

Time Management has long been a problem for anyone who works at home and writers struggle as much as anyone with this problem. The juggling act of finding time for a personal life, deadlines, writers block, just plain procrastination, social media and blogs is a difficult task. The truth is time-management is a myth. There are only 24 hours in a day and that will never change. Time doesn't change so all we can really do is figure out how to manage ourselves and what we can accomplish with the time we have.

First, determine where you are wasting time. Begin by tracking your daily activities so that you can get an accurate idea of where your time goes. This is the first step to time management. The next step is to prioritize the things that are most important to you, things that are a must to daily living. Abandoning your family is out of the question. You also need down time in which to relax. The key here is to carve out a space in your daily life that is yours and yours alone. You should have a discussion with your children and partner and discuss your needs as a writer and how you can all work together so that everyone's needs can be fulfilled. Make sure they understand your need for a quiet place where you can work undisturbed. Compromise, then be ruthless about protecting your time and space. Stick to the schedule whatever it is. If it is 1 hour each morning or 6 hours on Saturday whatever works stick to it each and every week. If you give up your time it will be become a habit and you will be back where you started. So don't give in (unless there is an emergency, of course.)

Create time management goals. Focusing on time management is actually about how you change your behaviors, not changing time. Eliminate the time wasters and distractions and you have mastered successful time management. Focus on increasing your productivity and decreasing your stress level. You not only need to set specific goals you need to track them to make sure you are accomplishing them. Now that you have a fixed time schedule it is time to plan how you will use your time. Prioritize. Assign a fixed time period for reading and answering email. This can consume a whole day if you let it. Find some way to manage your email so that you don't waste valuable time sorting through emails that are of no interest to you. Read only those that are from senders you know or those with subject lines that catch your attention.

Organize your filing system so that you can quickly put your hands on the information you need. Having to search for reference items for your book or article is time consuming and a lot of time you can't find what you want even though you know it is there somewhere. If you are writing a novel make a file for each of your characters. Give them a complete life with likes and dislikes, family, jobs. Describe what they like to do in their free time. Do they have pets, friends, neighbors? Make this as complete as possible. It will be very helpful when you are trying to decide how they react to the situations you put them in. Keep all this information at your fingertips. Also keep a file on the different settings your characters will be involved in. The more believable the setting, the more believable the story. Create an outline. Make it as short or as long as you want but make one. It will keep the story flowing and save you time and effort in the long run.

Don't obsess. If it takes you hours to come up with the right introduction or scenario because you discard every idea that comes to mind and are trying for the "perfect" idea you will end up wasting a lot of time and energy. If you find yourself staring at the computer screen hoping that your next idea will magically appear, don't wait too long – in most cases it doesn't. Make sure you take breaks if you are working for an extended period of time. If you feel your energy waning, get away from your computer and switch things up a little bit. Go for a quick walk or move onto a different project for a few minutes. This can give you a fresh perspective on the roadblock you are facing.

Set goals, they can be short term, medium term or long term. Goals help you to stay focused. Being focused helps you stay productive and being productive gives you a sense of accomplishment. Having a sense of accomplishment makes you want to keep on writing. Try setting goals for a week, 1 month, 6 months, a year. Balance your goals between your writing, style, craft and output with your goals for your writing career, networking and promotional opportunities. You can be in control of your time and accomplish what you need to get done. Once you understand the time control myth, take control of your time and stay in control.