I’ve never been one for schedules- making schedules OR having to adhere to schedules imposed on me. Yet, as I get older, I am realizing that a schedule- a plan for the day, the week, the month- makes me 100 times more efficient than when I take a laissez-faire approach to writing. Some people are planners. Those wonderful Type A personalities have their day scheduled down to the time they floss their teeth. Type B personalities lack a sense of urgency, and are typically more relaxed than their type A counterparts.
I think I might be a Type C personality. Type C, not officially recognized by the psychiatric community, is nevertheless very, very real.
Type C personalities have very little structure in their lives. A schedule to a Type C personality is like water to a cat. But I now know that some cats can learn to swim. And the water is actually quite nice.
Surprisingly, having a schedule doesn’t impede my “creative process.” (I thought it might. Aren’t the most creative people free spirits? Or am I stereotyping?) Scheduling my day helps me focus my ideas, and completing the tasks on a prioritized list gives me a sense of accomplishment. And (excuse the business jargon) having a schedule helps to increase productivity. I feel more proactive. I can actually see the synergy floating through my computer and into my brain. (I’m lying. I don’t actually know what synergy is.)
I work part-time, from home, and I have kids, which forces me to think strategically. What’s the best time of day to accomplish a, b, and c? What things can I do while my kids are playing close by? What days does my schedule allow me to get the most actual writing done? Are there caffeine and ample carbohydrates in the house?
I have to tell you, January has been a bugger. Sick kids. Strep throat. Lots of snow. Computer issues. Hand, foot, and mouth disease. And that was just last week.
So, this week I’m implementing a new writing schedule. It’s a bit more specific than my old writing schedule, which was basically get things done by the skin of my teeth. I’m giving myself Sundays “off.” (This is in theory, of course. Freelance writers, part-time or full-time, almost always end up working seven days a week. Because, we always assume an article won’t take as long as it actually ends up taking…)
Writing is more than just… writing. It’s researching and editing and networking and finding work. And one day is never the same as the next- which is why there needs to be flexibility! Though I may want to spend Mondays bidding on potential jobs, reaching on to former clients, etc., I have to be ready to drop my plans in order to edit a 30-page presentation that Mr. Smith needed done yesterday.
On Mondays, I will write down a basic plan of my daily and weekly goals. Here’s a general outline of a typical week:
Weekly tasks: (Done on Mondays and Fridays.)
1. Reach out to former clients.
2. Place bids
3. Fill out applications
4. Comment on blogs
1. Answer e-mails
2. Social media: Twitter, Facebook, Digg
3. Check on leads
Prioritize writing projects:
1. Deadlines for clients
4. Submission deadlines for magazines/ contests/ etc.
So, that’s it: my plan for organizing my writing tasks. How do you plan your writing tasks?