Are you still struggling to figure out your priorities? You have so much on your desk that you just don’t know what to do first. How do you face that situation? Some walk away and do something entirely different. Others pick and poke at their pile of tasks or go over and over their to-do list and get little done. Still other authors randomly choose a task or two to tackle every time they enter their offices. And there are definitely those who take action based on the demands of others—there’s a deadline or someone has called several times asking for results, etc.
It’s difficult to juggle everything when your work is multi-faceted, as mine is. I edit manuscripts for clients. I teach online courses. I write articles and books. I am in constant book promotion mode. I run a business and an organization. I go out and speak at various venues, so I am always preparing a presentation. And I have a home, gardens, hobbies, family and a social life.
In any one day, there might be a list of twenty or thirty tasks or responsibilities that need to be handled. How do I prioritize? The first step is to recognize the need to prioritize. Then use your common sense:
1: I like to get those small jobs off of my desk first thing in the morning. I check email and respond to those that require a brief or timely response. I may save those that need a more detailed response for later in the day. I write my blog and connect it to Twitter. And I do bookwork related to welcoming new SPAWN members, logging expenses and payments, preparing book orders for shipping and so forth before starting my day.
2: Throughout the day, if I get a question that I can answer rather easily, or a request I can handle quickly, I respond right away. If it is something that needs thought or preparation, I set it aside.
3: I might take care of some of those items set aside from the day before—this might include questions from clients or students that require some research, business related tasks, a review of student assignments, a look at a client’s back cover copy and so forth.
4: I generally have one or more major projects scheduled for each day—I’m working on an editing job, writing an article or three, working on a book of my own, adding something to my website, consulting with a client, preparing a presentation, seeking out speaking opportunities, contacting book reviewers, or some other promotional activity.
5: I take a break to get my walk in, water gardens and run errands. This might include shipping books, picking up my business mail, delivering books to a bookstore, etc.
6: After my break, I will generally continue with my main project for the day.
7: Before quitting time, I may handle some of the work that filtered in via email, phone and regular mail during the day. This may consist of confirming a speech date and sending a bio and publicity photo, responding to another author question (I get a lot of them), filing items that came across my desk during the day for inclusion in the next issue of the SPAWN Market Update, contacting people for permission to quote or for permission to use their testimonials, negotiating with an editor, checking on a shipment that is late arriving, doing a little research and/or doing some much needed filing.
That’s a peek into the life of a career writer/author/organization leader/teacher/editor.
Obviously, your day will look different than mine. You may have a job and/or children to look after. I’ve never understood how anyone could write while raising little children—but some people do. And I am still puzzled by how authors can adequately write, publish and promote their books while holding down full-time jobs.
I would love to hear from some of you and so would my followers. What are your secrets to organizing your days? How do you get it all done? What are your greatest challenges? Mine are, probably like most of you, finding enough time and energy.