Time management skills have eluded me since grade school. Okay, that’s not true. Time Management and I might have been friends had I not already been involved in close relationships with Procrastination and Distraction. Throughout the years, I have tried several different types of productivity books and apps, from Franklin Covey to the Pomodoro method. I’ve bought planners and apps, hoping something would stick. All this happened before I had a baby, so you can imagine how difficult reigning in time is now.
Finally, my author friend, Andrea Judy, put me on to a daily planner that included journaling and task management called a Cossac Planner. I believe she shared it on her Instagram account, and I noticed and few days later that she was still using it. I researched it, and it seemed interesting. Tight finances prevented me from buying one. I decided to make my own, first using several sheets of paper in a notebook as a test to see if it would work for my personality.
I discovered that planning out my days and weeks and reviewing how things went began to change me, which is not what I expected from a planner. Like many planners, this includes a monthly calendar view and pages for each day. Unlike many others, this one includes daily, weekly, and monthly review sections and has a separate page to plan each week.
I can’t explain why it works, but it forces you to sit down and plan out your week and your month. Sitting down each weekend, looking at next week’s schedule, and assogning a task to each day has changed my life.
I have written more in the past month than I have in longer than I want to admit. I have completed things that have been sitting on the back burner. I have started a video series on YouTube. I have been blogging more. I am developing a social media strategy.
And, my friends, I am also getting more sleep.
I’ve decided to share a few things I’ve discovered about myself and about time management as I’ve become more productive, hoping it might help others:
Getting off digital sometimes works better. Moving back and forth between physical pages is quicker and more efficient than scrolling. Being able to see a whole month instead of little dots helps me process things better. My iPhone is too small to help my brain process and focus on the amount of information I need to effectively manage my time.
I really am trying to do too much. Forcing myself to look at my weekly schedule and assign tasks to each day has illuminated some issues. I truly am overextended. I can’t have a part time job, be a full time mom, write novels, keep up with the social media to write the novels, and be Condo Associaion President and expect to stay sane. Something has to give. Before I started writing things down, I thought I was the problem. Turns out I really do have too many things I’m trying to do. Now I am attempting to lessen the amount of tasks I do each day, which has helped.
I still don’t reach my daily goals. I’m a perfectionist who isn’t perfect. I still over schedule myself. However, this is the first time I haven’t just quit a time management system. (I think it has to do with the review section each day.)
I need to expect more emergencies. I plan, expecting each day to be perfect. They never are. I’ve adjusted how many tasks I put into a day, which results in me liking instead of hating myself. (See the perfectionist part above.)
I now write early in the morning. I am a night owl, but the most practical time for me to write is before my daughter wakes up. Trying to do anything at night usually fails. Once I put Ellie down for bed, I can’t even think from exhaustion. So now I wake up at 5:30, shower and get dressed for the day, and write. I don’t get as much writing time as I would like, but it’s working and I’m writing every day.
I see how I can make the next week/month better. By writing down my daily tasks and schedule, I discover how I can improve my time management. Each week, I adjust what I do. I now set my computer up the night before. I lay my clothes out the night before as well, and I prepare my lunch the night before I go to work. I also prep for my filming the night before because I know I won’t be able to get to it until Ellie naps. Once she naps, I only get 2 hrs to film, edit, and upload, and I can’t spend that time prepping. I’ve learned all this through trial and error.
I probably can blame most of my lack of production from reading to many dumb articles on FaceBook and playing Soduku on my phone. No comments needed.
Forcing myself to go to sleep at a designated time prevents me from wasting time during the day. If I know I have to be in bed by 10:30, I’m less likely to play Sudoku.
Update: I forgot to mention that my blog posts/social media posts have become more stratigic. I’ve planned out one post a week for this quarter. I’ve already planned out all my filming for this quarter. I’ve planned out a few social media posts a week for this quarter. I now realize I need to learn more about the inner workings of algorithms and key words. I plan to start that next year, because I have no time right now.
Update: Going with the post above, I am also now paying attention to what works. I’m watching the analytics. Are my numbers rising? Do my social media sites grow in strength. Are more people discovering my blog? Are people buying my books? If something doesn’t work, I don’t have time to bother with it.
Update: Last post-publish addition: I am less stressed. I have a plan in place. If I can’t get to something, I push it to the next day and then adjust how I schedule myself.
I’m a work in progress. I haven’t got this time management thing down yet, but I feel like I’ve finally found a system that works for me.
How about you? What helps you manage your time?
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Fantasy, steampunk, pulp, and paranormal novelist M. B. Weston is the author of The Elysian Chronicles, a fantasy series about guardian angel warfare and treason. For more information on M. B. Weston, visit www.mbweston.com. To receive notification of M. B. Weston’s book releases click here to subscribe to Dark Oak Press & Media’s e-newsletter.