Monday, July 09, 2007

Time Management Revisited

As someone who has spent far too much time stressing over her daily task list and whether a particular chore should be prioritized as #21 or #22, or whether it's a "low A" or a "high B" category, I found the following article very helpful. (For a take on my own "Time Mismanagement" system, see my post from May 19, 2005. You can find it in the archives.)

By the way, the following article is pretty long, and I didn't write it. I'm posting it here with permission from the author.



Time Management for Writers -- Summary

Randy Ingermanson, Advanced Fiction Writing E-Zine, October 3, 2006, Volume 2, Number 7
I've been talking about time management in this e-zine
for the last several issues because it's important to
me and because I strongly suspect it's important to
many writers too. After all, we're the people who are
saving the world. And saving worlds is a big, big job.

I've laid out a number of ideas in recent articles. Now
I'd like to summarize and synthesize. You'll see that
I've improved on last month's Divide And Conquer method
by adding in an idea from an earlier column.

So here are the things I've been finding useful in
managing my time better:

a) Keep a log of how you spend your time each day. You
can't optimize something unless you can measure it.

b) Spend less of your time and money on things you
VALUE, and spend more of your time and money on
learning SKILLS or buying TOOLS that will make you more

c) Outsource or delegate stuff, but only when it makes

d) Make a list of the Big Things you'd like to achieve
in the next year. Put a star next to the ONE thing on
the list that you simply must get done, even if you
achieve none of the rest.

e) Make a list of several things you'd like to achieve
in the next quarter. These can be pieces broken off
from the tasks on your annual list, or they can be
smaller tasks that can be done in one quarter. Put a
star next to the ONE task on the list that you MUST
achieve this quarter.

f) Make a list of the things you'd like to achieve this
month. Again, these can be stepping stones to your
quarterly list, or standalone tasks. Put a star next to
the ONE thing you really insist on getting done this

g) Make a list of things you want to get done this
week. You are clever and will know how to break down
your monthly list as needed. Put a star next to the ONE
thing that had better get done this week at all costs.

h) Make a list of things you want to do today. Put a
star next to the ONE thing that you will bust your gut
to get finished by the end of the day, (even if you get
nothing else done).

i) Every day (and week and month and quarter and year),
MAKE SURE you get the starred task done, even if it's
the ONLY thing that you do. It's nice to do some or all
of the other tasks on the list, but there is only one
that's required and you know which one it is because it
has a star beside it. Whatever else happens, DO THAT

k) Whenever you cross a starred item off one of your
lists, decide whether you want to put a star on a
second item, or whether you're done with the heavy
lifting for that time period. It's OK to take a
breather after you accomplish something important.

l) If something happens to change your priorities,
change your lists to reflect them. This may even mean
(heaven forfend!) moving that star to another task.
You're the boss, so you get to decide.

m) At the end of the day, ask yourself two questions:
Did you spend your time well? Did you achieve your
starred item for the day?

If you read last month's column, you'll know that I've
souped up the Divide And Conquer method by adding a
partial prioritization to each list (putting a star on
ONE item). Note that assigning priorities to EVERY item
on a list would be a lot of wasted work and anyway it's
not very accurate. But you generally know what the #1
item is on the list. That's the one that should get the

Here's why this scheme is efficient: It's a whole lot
less work to set one priority than to set 10 or 20.
When things change in your life, it's a lot easier to
reset one priority than 10 or 20. Be lazy! That's how
things get done.

Just so you'll know, I'm eating my own cat food (so to
speak). My list for today has 17 items on it. Of these,
the one with the star is "Write e-zine." The fact that
you are reading this is proof positive that I
succeeded. I've also crossed off 7 of the others. Yes, I
did some of the "lower priority" tasks first -- but
only because I knew they wouldn't interfere with
getting the e-zine out. I also delegated some tasks to
my wife.

If you ever cross off every item on your daily list,
call Oprah. You will have achieved Ultimate Success
and will probably get a book deal out of it. I have
never, ever crossed off every item on my list for the

However, the odds are very good that I'll get
everything on my Annual List done by December 31. And
is that cool or what? Because it's the Big Things that
matter. Life is about selectively ignoring the Little
Things so you can achieve the Big Things you really
wanted to do all along.

This scheme is actually working for me. Some days it
works better than others, but it works. If it works for
you, don't tell me. Just send me large numbers of
unmarked $100 bills, because my Life Goal (achieving
Total World Domination) is going to be expensive. And
tell your friends that I'm responsible for making you
smarter, happier, sexier, and taller.

If it doesn't work for you, then please blame Congress.
They deserve a little recognition now and again.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the
Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing
E-zine, with more than 5000 readers, every month. If
you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction,
AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND
have FUN doing it, visit
Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing
and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.


blogger templates 3 columns | Make Money Online