I’m relieved to find that I’m not the only author who has to balance writing, marketing, and publishing—and manage the business end of it.
But what’s the secret to that balance?
LISTS! Make to-do lists every day and put tasks in priority order.
If you’re like most writers, you’ll probably notice that your to-do list is formidable and overwhelming. We’re all given the same 24 hours a day, and somehow have to find a way to manage it. Here are a few principles I’ve found helpful:
- Identify your goals within a set time period: Are you aiming to complete a book in six months? Or are you trying to increase your readership and newsletter subscriber list? Whatever it is, you’ll want to list all the concrete, specific tasks related to achieving this goal for whatever period of time you’ve set.
- Select your top three priority tasks for each day: Of course, you may have more than three, but try to focus on the absolute top three, and at least one or two of these should probably be related to that goal from #1. Keep this as a subset of your overall to-do list, as a separate visual landmark. If you’re looking at 30 goals, you’ll probably get anxious before you even start.
- Allocate sufficient time to accomplish your top three tasks: There may be days where there truly is only time for one task. Be flexible, be creative. Just be realistic.
- Schedule time to take a break: It’s easy to forget that you need a break if you’re not a cross-country truck driver. But even desk warriors need some time to get up, stretch, and go outside for a change of scenery. Invest at least 15 minutes in the middle of your work day to do something completely different and stress free. When you return, you’re able to focus better.
- Have clear boundaries. While you want to ensure that you don’t have interruptions and distractions while you work, it’s also important to protect the quality of your life outside of work. So when your work is over for the day (or allocated portion of the day), leave it at the office as much as possible. Be 100% present for your family, friends, and yourself. Leave the smartphone in your pocket and resist checking your social media, sales figures, or emails when you’re not (supposed to be) working. The better the quality of life outside of work, the better condition you’ll be in for those work hours.
- Write out your mission statement and review it often: There will be times when you’re treading water in endless tasks. Every now and then, come up for air and look at your mission statement. Re-evaluate all your work-related tasks and activities in light of that mission. Do they pertain? How much so? Can you say no? Should you keep with it? There are times when you know you have to make cuts to your schedule. Your mission statement can be an effective tool in your decision-making process.
If you don’t succeed today, tomorrow’s another day.