With the new year fast approaching and resolutions already being planned, now is the perfect time to change some of your behaviors and mindset, in order to become more prolific and move closer to your goals more quickly.
Read on to learn how to "work smarter, not harder" and take your writing to the next level!
Life Is a Series of Choices
Success is correlated to the choices we have made, and continue to make, regarding how we spend the time of our life. Quite simply, if you choose to continue doing things that waste time, you are willingly relegating to the trash bin of life some moments that you will never recapture--unproductive moments, idle moments, moments that add little or nothing to the quality of your life and your work.
Be inspired by the words of management guru Peter Drucker: "Everything requires time. It is the only truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses up time. “Vow to care for time the way time-meisters do: Identify your time-wasters and commit to finding cures for these causes of lost minutes, hours, years, lives.
Time-Wasting: Causes & Cures
It was also Peter Drucker who stated that efficiency means "doing things right," while effectiveness means "doing the right things right." Doing too much research, for example, may not be the “right thing” if it means missing deadlines. If the things you choose to do all day long are not advancing your writing goals, they are probably things that fall into one of these less-than-effective categories:
It’s easy to go down metaphorical rabbit holes, scattering your energies and delaying your best intentions. Think seriously about your plan for getting that book or article written. How many words will you need to write each day. Then, plan a schedule for your next day of work, making your target number a priority.
Although you may choose not to be as assertive as Napoleon, who promised, "You can ask me for anything you like.....except time," you will have to find the words that allow you to continue working when others try to interrupt. Your first assignment in this category is to create (and promise to use) five phrases to subvert interruptions.
It's as true on the macrocosmic level (Franklin Delano Roosevelt noting that perfectionism may obstruct the paths to international peace) as it is on the microcosmic level (an obsessive need to have everything exactly right): the need to be perfect can make you a poor time-manager.
Ideally, you'll refer to the answers to the following questions whenever you're tempted to exert all your time and energies on a single effort:
To illustrate: every book or blog or article needs a good title. You can play with titles for a full two hours and then spend two more calling friends a fellow writers to learn which they prefer. Or, you can meet your writing goal for the day and just add possible titles as the thoughts occur to you. Upon completion of your writing assignment, you can show the list of possible titles to 20 people whose literary inclinations you respect and ask them to tell you their favorite.
4. Inability To Say "No"
Writers have to be assertive at times.
It seems that those individuals who use time inefficiently are the same individuals who complain about a lack of time. Whenever you find the procrastination monster breathing down your neck, use the 4-T Technique. Ask yourself:
Can I complete my writing goal Today?
What should be done Tomorrow?
Which aspects of my writing project are Time-independent (no actual deadline)?
Is what I’m doing right now a True requirement of project completion?
These questions should remind you that we're all given the same gift of time--24 hours a day--and that some people use it to great advantage while others complain about the inadequacy of the gift.
Think about the writing you've been putting off. Apply the 4-T test to it.
If time-wasting is a serious problem for you, you may want to keep a log like the
Following for a week or two. Just indicate with a simple checkmark your ten-minute expenditures of time on this weekly log of activities. (Every three checkmarks will represent one-half hour's worth of time.) If possible, make a copy before you begin so you can keep the log for two or three weeks.
If you have to swallow a frog …
Let’s face it—there are some parts of the writing cycle that are less pleasant than others. You may not enjoy writing query letters, or trying to convince bookstores to carry your book, or emailing an editor that you are the perfect person to write an article. The best advice to help you face and complete those less-desirable tasks may actually be what Mark Twain told procrastinators: “If you have to swallow a frog, don’t stare at it too long!”
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Dr. Marlene Caroselli is an author, keynoter, and corporate trainer whose clients include Lockheed Martin, Allied Signal, Department of the Interior, and Navy SEALS. She writes extensively about education, business, self-improvement, and careers and has adjuncted at UCLA and National University. Her first book, The Language of Leadership, was named a main selection by the Executive Book Club. Principled Persuasion, a more recent title, was designated a Director's Choice by the Doubleday Book Club. Applying Mr. Albert: 365+ Einstein-Inspired Brain Boosts, her 62nd book, will be released by HRD Press in 2019.
Image credits: Pixabay.com