I’ve been listening to a number of interviews with people who have transitioned to writing full time. It has been fascinating to listen to people talk about the years beforehand, when they worked a dayjob and had to wedge in their writing time.
Many of theme woke early, getting up at 5am (or even earlier) to get in their writing time. Others wrote at lunchtime (something I did often during NaNoWriMo) and then there were those like me, who wrote at night after dinner.
Since we can’t make any more time, we have to make the most of our time.
How do we do that? The answer is that it’s not so much time management as self-management.
Well, I have been hearing a lot about the Pomodoro method. It’s a productivity model that is very complex if you read the white paper (like I did) but is very simple if you just think of it like this:
Make time real.
Concentrate on just doing one thing in time blocks.
So the Pomodoro method recommends a mechanical kitchen timer. I have been using the Star Wars BB-8 Kitchen Timer – With Lights and Sounds at night and it has really forced me to stop doing social media or going down endless research rabbit trails and just write for 25 minutes at a time.
The recommended time block is 25 minutes, with a 5 min. break. Some people may need to work their way up to 25 minutes of hyper focus. The end result is 50 minutes of your hour, solid production rate time.
At the end of each 25 minute block, my BB-8 timer makes a little whirring noise and cute beep. It flashes a little light and I’m ready to take 5 minutes to have a cup of tea and check my Twitter or whatever. Then it’s another twist of the timer and I’m back on task.
So that’s the first tip – MAKE TIME CONCRETE.
The second tip: Ask yourself, is this the best use of your time?
If you’ve read Stephen Covey’s book, then you have probably done the exercise about what your core values are. That means when you are doing tasks that serve those values, then it’s an easier decision tree to decide what to do and how to prioritize it. I have been using this question to help myself get to bed earlier.
When I am about to check email one more time, or I’ve been on Facebook longer than 5 minutes. I stop and ask myself, is this the best use of my time?
What else would I rather be doing?
And then the answer was so obvious. I would rather be getting more sleep so that I can tackle my writing fresh in the morning.