I attended an excellent writer's retreat this year, and one of the topics--time management--really hit home. Time management is not an easy skill with the Internet just a click away, and e-mail, eBay, Craig's List and YouTube beckoning so seductively. If a paragraph isn't going well, it's just too easy to turn to Craigslist and go horse and pony shopping (I've been looking for something small and very gentle for the grandkids for a long time.)
Being a little jaded about the whole topic of time management, I wasn't expecting to gain much useful information at the retreat. But the presenter was wonderful and I am trying to turn over a new lea
f. :) Here are several of the principles she covered:
1. Do important things--not the urgent things--first. Example: how many of us actually do get on our treadmills or go for thirty minutes of brisk walking per day? Americans are a sedentary lot. Exercise is critically important for good health. But its something all too easy to put off...day after day.
2. Use the military's philosophy of "hurry up and wait." If you have an hour and need to take care of a task requiring thirty minutes, how many of us procrastinate until the last minute? Do it first--and you'll feel far less stress, guilt and panic. Apply this to the bigger projects in life, such as book deadlines, and it can free you up for all sorts of other opportunities that might come along.
3. Set a timer for productive work time. Turn off e-mail. The telephone isn't your boss--don't feel obligated to answer it. Anyone with important reasons to call will leave a message or call back. Set quotas for your tasks, and think of meeting it as a way to earn permission to have fun later. This is actually something I've done, in part, for some time--I downloaded Mac Freedom and can now turn off access to the Internet for any length of time I select, up to 480 minutes...and there's no way to circumvent the software. None! It's wonderful!
4. The speaker also talked about the myth of multi-tasking--how trying to focus on too many things at once can make it impossible to do well at any of them. In one of the many letters he wrote to his son in the 1740s, Lord Chesterfield said, "There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time. This steady an
d undissipated attention to one object, is a sure mark of a superior genuis; as hurry, bustle and agitation are the never-failing symptoms of a weak and frivolous mind."
A weak and frivolous mind. That's me!
By the way, I have a new release out right now--WINTER REUNION, for Steeple Hill's Love Inspired line. After selling twenty-nine light romantic suspense novels to SuperRomance and Love Inspired Suspense, it's my first non-suspense ever. It's also the first in my Aspen Creek Crossroads series, which centers around a quaint bookstore in the St. Croix River area near the Minnesota/Wisconsin border.
And if you have a nice quiet pony for sale, do let me know!
I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts about time management and productivity -- and what tips you might have!