Monday 6 August 2018
The Trials of An Indie Author: Schedules Revisited
THE TRIALS OF A INDIE AUTHOR: SCHEDULES REVISITED
This is something I've talked about before, and it's something that I get asked a whole ton as well. How am I so organised? How do I achieve the output I do? I answered it somewhat in a recent Monday piece, in that I work hard, but I also wanted to touch on the other aspects of it. Now some of this will span the usual scope of these pieces and some will overlap to the other series I post here. I'll talk about being a spoonie, for example, as well as making the most of what I can do and even sometimes, what I can't.
I am sure you've all seen the vlog I did on being organised (if not you can find it here) and with that you'll have seen these photos before as well. I utilise my time best by scheduling it out evenly. As you can see from the photo below, I make use of the Sticky Notes feature on Windows. It has been a life saver for me and has increased my productivity to a point where I'm very happy with it. The photo is a little old, but you can see the basics. I have a sticky note for every day of the month and I set myself one writing task for that day. So some days it's a chapter, other days it's recording a vlog and other days it's to do absolutely nothing. I generally use the end of the month for tying up any loose ends and writing my blog posts.
Now I know that for some people, like me, organisation comes easier than for others. Having said that, it did take me a long while to get to a point where I realised just how little time I was putting into my writing life and how much more work was needed. In the early days it was a matter of not having the spoons, for a while it was also getting my degree and not having the time, but then for a period up until I discovered I could do a lot more in a month, it was simply just not being strict with myself.
That said, I do want to be clear, you need to have breaks. As you can see from the photo, I work in blocks of four and then have both a catch up day and a day where I can chill if I'm not writing. This is a MUST. No one is able to work all the hours they can and never take a break. You're human and you're built to work, but also built to have down time. You need days to lie in bed and read. You need time to not be draining the creative well. So however you plan, remember that you also need to take breaks. That part is not negotiable.
So what are my tips for sticking to a schedule and getting yourself to the point of being productive? Glad you asked!
#1 - WORK OUT MUST-DO LIST
By this I mean, set yourself a list of things that have to be done. You want these things done more than anything else. Those are the things you'll be adding to your schedule as the most important. Try not to overload yourself and make sure they're achievable. It's all well and good wanting to write a novel in 30 days, but it's not always something you can do. In fact it's damn near impossible to have a book written, edited and ready for publication in just a month, no matter who you are!
#2 - WORK IN BLOCKS
Whether this is, like me, four, or six or whatever. Find a way to work that keeps you both on task and allows you to have those much needed breaks. You want to find that sweet spot. You don't want to be working for days on end because the work you do towards the end of that on period are going to be horrible days. You don't want the work to suffer for it. So I suggest starting small, with three-five days blocks before you schedule yourself a day off and/or a catch up day.
#3 - CATCH-UP DAYS ARE NOT OPTIONAL
You're going to need them. There will be some days when despite your best efforts, you are going to be unable to get things done. And that's completely normal and okay. You want to have some safety days where you're able to know you can catch up with yourself, or if you're not behind, maybe get ahead. But before you do that, you should also work out, how much rest time that would cost you.
#4 - REST DAYS ARE ALSO NOT OPTIONAL
You can't really tell from that first photo, but here's one of my current set up. You can see that I have six off days. Those are non-negotiable. They are days when I will be doing no work whatsoever. These can be for various reasons, such as other commitments or needing time away, but I make sure to have at least six each month because everyone needs down time. I sometimes find I use my yellow days for those, but it's good to have them even when I don't have time on the yellow days, which are my catch up days.
#5 - MAKE THE SCHEDULE WORK FOR YOU
This simply means that if you have days when you know that you'll be free to do more work than on others, schedule your time to suit your own needs. As you can see from my photos, I colour code and generally, as I said, work in blocks on four. However there are times, like last month, when I had various doctor visits and other issues that meant I couldn't work in those four blocks, but I could still get the work done because I was flexible with my time. You have to prepare for the unknown and that's a big part of scheduling and all of that.
So that's how I get it done. You have to find what works for you, and I've found that the sticky notes are a major help to me. I love being able to close them when everything on it has been finished and it even keeps me motivated. Let me know what kind of tools you've found will help you keep on target in the comments!
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