Today I broke down and admitted to myself that I was in desperate need of a time management reboot if I wanted to accomplish most of my short-term goals. I know WHAT I want to accomplish and HOW to get it all done. What I am lacking is a PLAN.
Now you may be one of those lucky people who can make things happen without the aid of planners, push notifications, sticky notes and the promise of a chocolatey reward at the end of a long hard slog through another 12 hours of adulting. I am NOT one of those people. I need ALL OF THE ABOVE if I intend to get reasonably close to any of my goals.
Having said that, and acknowledged that the month of November looms on the horizon like a three-headed beast poised to devour my sanity and my will to live, I headed to the store and bought a notebook. Not just any notebook, one of those DIY planner deals with cool plastic dividers and customizable labels. I also bought gel pens in metallic colors because I’m fabulous and I deserve it.
And so I come to you sharing the secret to any level of success I may have. I hope it helps you conquer your three-headed beast, whatever it may be.
Write a Morning Routine.
You know that “Miracle Morning” deal that’s been making us all feel like slackers for the last two years? Well, I have boiled it all down to this. You need to set yourself up for success. Get a few wins under your belt and keep the momentum going for as long as you can (which for me means noon). These wins should be big ones because people like me simply don’t have the discipline or the drive to make it up later. So, wake, pray, exercise, and get the MOST important writing of the day done. That way by ten, when I’m contemplating going back to bed, I can say I accomplished something and I’m more likely to try to accomplish the second something.
Write an evening routine.
There’s no miracle evening, although there should be. Like many writers, I find the nights to be a great time to work. This is probably because its silent, still, the temperature has dropped and I have a chance to sort through the stress of the day. For me, the hardest part is to force myself to go to bed at night. If I want to be productive, spend time with my family, and not always feel like a vampire being dragged into the sun, I have to get to bed at a decent hour. Period. So I schedule some work mode detox time in the evening. That’s when I step away from the computer, have dinner with my kids, do a few household chores, and do some reading for pleasure. This helps me to settle down and go to sleep.
Pro-Tip for Writers: If an idea strikes, pen and paper work just as well as your laptop. Write it down and let it soak overnight. Don’t give in to the temptation to open your laptop and write it right away.
Be SANE and Specific.
I never put my goals in vague or general terms. If I do that I’ll get minimal results. If I say “I’ll write one blog post a week” I guarantee you this it’ll never happen. But if I say “I’ll write a blog post every Monday” and then put it on my google calendar (complete with a push notification) the chances of it happening multiply exponentially. That’s one of the reasons why challenges like blogtober and NaNoWriMo work so well for me. There is a specific goal to hit each day. With daily doable tasks, you have no excuse not to succeed. I apply this method to things like family meal planning. KNowing at a glance what’s for dinner makes getting food on the table in a timely manner so much easier.
If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or simply want to start working on your first novel, I want to encourage you to make daily planning a part of your life. If you’re looking for extra time in your day to get some writing done, or to workout, or even to just chill, then you need to begin with a plan. In the comments below, tell me how you plan your day and if there are any tricks that work best for you.
For those who have no idea where to start with daily planning, I recommend bullet journaling. I don’t use this system myself but I endorse it wholeheartedly because its so low tech and doesn’t require any gear. You can use a composition notebook you have hanging around, or an old sketch pad, or buy a dot matrix journal. For more on how to get in on the bullet journaling fun check out the how-to video below and start getting your life in order. November waits for no one.