What I'm reading: Cover Her Face by P. D. James
What's on the iPod: Dani California by Red Hot Chili Peppers
As I tried to navigate on foot down a very slippery driveway yesterday (I just took to sliding instead of attempting to move my feet), I remembered trying to climb on all fours up a road 30 years (or so) ago that was just as slippery. Funny how these little reminisces come flooding in when the experience is repeated. My reason yesterday (get the recycling bin from the curb) wasn't the same as it was back then (get to the bus stop a quarter mile away), but the results were pretty much the same. I did get what/where I needed to, and I got back inside without falling. Like then, I opted halfway into my trek to head for the snow where traction was infinitely better.
Today it's 58 degrees already. Tonight, it will be -1.
Welcome to January in Valley Forge. Despite the legend, it is not usually like this.
As I sat down to write this post this morning, I realized how writing workloads are often just as moody as the weather. On Friday, I walked away from the computer with a set schedule for today. This morning, I see one more must-have in the in box. Worse, there's a rather large project that's going to need most of my attention today. So how does a writer get the work done?
Ah, if that actually helped instead of hindered. Those of us who are a bit ADD to begin with can't rely on caffeine to regulate our time. It's just there to give a much-needed boost on a groggy-looking Monday.
Still, there are ways for us writers to manage the busy writing schedule. Here are a few ways I do that:
Prioritize. There's no surprise here. Every writer at every stage of the writing career has to know how to prioritize a workload. Yet this can be the step that's overlooked when things get busy and muddled. When I find myself spinning my wheels, I drop what I'm doing and take five minutes to organize the workload.
Time it. Particularly when I have four things all due at once or within days of each other, I need to devote certain amounts of time to each project. I turn on the project timer and time myself. Did I spend two hours on that article like I'd planned? Now I'll know.
Schedule it. The project timer doesn't have an alarm or notification function, so how am I supposed to know when I'm finished? That's where Outlook has helped. In those five minutes I've spent prioritizing, I've set up Outlook "appointments" for each task -- scheduled for when I expect to finish. I've also set it to remind me 15 minutes before the "start" of the next project/end of the first project.
Talk to the clients first. With today's request, it really is a small task. However, I've seen these small tasks turn into hour-long time robbers. So with the request, I'll send my reply and promise it by the end of the day or early tomorrow. That way the client knows I've seen the note and am working on it, and I don't feel pressured to get the last thing to come in out the door first. It's just common courtesy to reply to the clients, anyway.
Writers, when your schedule gets busy or wonky, how do you get it all done? What works best for you?