People often ask me how it is I?m able to get so much done (and for so little money)? The answer is hard-won time management strategies. In my racket, which I?ll refer to as the ?Writing Game,? generating mass amounts of seemingly sensible brain candy is key to my survival. Likewise, producing equally high piles of steaming whatever-it-is-you-do is probably key to your survival. Good time management is my secret weapon against deadline anxiety and the looming fear of dying without an adequately impressive oeuvre.
Though the lessons I?ve learned while navigating my writing career aren?t remotely revolutionary, they?ll likely have analogous application in your own pursuits, seeing as deep down we?re all just money-grubbing bastards.
1. Put down the glass and step away from the bar
Many great writers and related content-producers were and are notorious booze-hounds. Since only a relative few concluded their careers with a shotgun in their mouths, one might conclude booze and writing enjoy a symbiotic relationship. Yes, when one is cashing one?s hard-won freelance check and no, when when one is on deadline. Mind you, I?m pro-booze but I?ve learned that one drink in the afternoon tends to send me either to bed or on the speed-train to such rationales as ?I can just turn it in the morning.? Either way, I wake up on the walking dead-side of ?deadline.? (My esteemed colleagues at the I-T pronounce my name ?Deadline-less,? so perhaps I?m not one to talk.) The booze is how you put the fire out, not stoke its flames.
2. Turn off your phone
Alexander Graham Bell could never have imagined that his ?acoustic telegraph? would evolve into a digital Swiss Army knife without which modern life would seem unmanageable. Smart-phones, no matter how intelligent, actually make you stupid. At least in terms of one?s time management given their near-Satanic ability to distract by bringing the whole world to your fingertips. Why doesn?t someone cut to the chase and just create an app called ?A.D.D.? so our attention deficits could at least… Check it out, I found a pistachio in my pocket. Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh, yeah. Wait, hold on, I just got a text…
3. Social media is not your friend
In fact, most of your ?friends? on social media aren?t even your friends, so why let them intrude upon your productive hours? For that matter, how dare you intrude upon theirs? Managing your Facebook newsfeed is not your job and even if it is, it?s not a real job so knock it off and start doing something productive. Then you can smugly post how much you actually accomplished and count the ?likes? that roll from your envious pals like so much gluckschmerz (the German word for ?feeling unhappy about the good fortune of others? ? gotta love that Teutonic terminology).
4. Stop getting coffee
Caffeine is a fact of life but the act of obtaining coffee is a huge waste of time disguised as getting something done. When you?re padding down to the cafe to get your fix remember that the only person working is the barista. Get a thermos and keep your butt in your seat (until you have to get up and go pee for the billionth time because coffee is a diuretic and wrings all liquid from your body).
5. Reading is not research ? it?s a ruse
I got paid to write this but are you getting paid to read it? If you?re not my editors, then the answer is ?No.? If you?re reading this while on-the-clock, you?re just spending your company?s money. And I?m not getting a cent of of it. ?Minimize this blog and get back to work. Then you can afford to send me a check.
For some, learning how to manage time may seem as esoteric a notion as becoming a ?Time Lord? in Dr. Who (and they barely know how to manage time). That said, the importance of time management for authors cannot be overstated ??it can mark the difference between a shelf full of published books or a drawer brimming with the shameful sheaf of an unfinished opus.
Some writers might also find these links useful: Time Strategies?at PenFatale?and?How Labeling and Hyperbole Sabotage Your Writing Productivity?at HuffPo.