I’ve had one of those mornings that simply got away from me. I’ve been at the computer for two hours and I’ve gotten almost nothing done that earns me money.
That’s unsual for me.
Oh I got up early enough, and I did my morning meditation routine. I even got started in the way that usually works for me.
First I go to my account at Toggl and start timing my activities. I began with what I call ‘survey the day.’ I spend a few minutes, and usually it’s less than five, reviewing what’s on my plate for the day.
Then I move to email.
That’s when it all began to break down.
Oh, the two short emails to two clients, updating one on a project and asking a question of another were right on target.
But instead of postponing trying to figure out how to bring TextNOW to my desktop to facilitate communication with my partner in a class I’m taking, I spent maybe 15 minutes trying to figure out how to log in before I realized I was spinning my wheels.
I started an email to her about my schedule. I realized that my Monday afternoons have recently changed and called a business friend to see if she wanted to get together even though we will be meeting with the third member of our team only twice a month now. That resulted in a fairly complex discussion of our mutual schedules.
Do you see what’s happening here?
By the time I got back to work I’d spent about 45 minutes of what I consider prime writing time on important stuff, but stuff I could have done later.
Fortunately I don’t often let email take me that far of track. My usual habit is to scan and see if there’s anything I need to handle right away. Part of my awareness is that I’m on the west coast and my east coast clients are well into their work day even though I usually start at 6 or 6:30.
The Money Shots
Since I know I do my best writing early in the day, the first writing tasks I tackle are those that will bring me money the soonest, or have the closest deadline. I call these my ‘money shots’ and put them in a special color (bright blue) on my calendar.
For instance, if I’ve got a client who needs a press release and has provided the info in this morning’s email, I’ll do that right after I post here.
When I have bigger projects, like ghostwriting a book, I always start that before 10 am, and often sooner. I save the afternoons for marketing and doing things for myself that will bring in income but not right away.
Afternoon is also when I tend to do what might be considered creative writing.
For example, I’ve started a series of gathas. I’m also slowly writing the story of my family at the request of my children. They want to hear about their grandparents and anything else I know. That’s a fun project and I’m writing it with almost no thought of publishing it.
I’ve learned that I can’t sustain much more than four hours of writing a day – not the concentrated kind of writing that gets projects moving and done. When I try to do more, the next day I can barely write my name.
There’s lots of other stuff I can do for my writing business that are outside those best writing hours. Marketing, bookkeeping, editing, following up phone calls – all the stuff that makes a business run. I also try to schedule any classes I’m taking for the afternoon. Plus I generally get in some exercise several times a week. Finding balance makes life so much easier.
What About You?
Obviously my schedule won’t work for you. That’s not the point. What I’m suggesting is you recognize what time of day you do your best writing and honor that. Figure out how many hours a day you can write and keep up that pace over the week, month and year. Then develop your schedule according to that.
I usually approach this by creating my ideal day. You might find that a helpful technique.
You might also find Time Tracking helpful.
How do you determine your writing schedule?