Time Management Strategies to Write a Book

Hourglass on laptop computer concept for time management

Time Management for Writers

Be honest. How many books have you bought, articles have you read, and podcasts have you listened to that talk about how to manage your time better? Perhaps you took someone’s advice on how you may be able to work better at night and tried your best to make it work. How many weeks did it take you to realize that all those all-nighters and cups of coffee were taking a toll on your wellbeing instead of boosting your creativity? Did you try to start your day at 4 am, have a green juice, hit the gym, and journal so you can start your day on a more productive note? While this made you feel incredibly accomplished, you probably gave this “lifestyle” up on your third day in, right?

Why do we try so hard to make other people’s elaborate systems work for us, even though we realize that everyone is different? Even the most tried-and-true methods can leave us feeling disappointed. Chances are that you felt like you were trying to wring water out of a stone. Many people find that other people’s systems work for them but still don’t feel satisfied with the results. You can manage to get yourself to finally sit down and write for hours. But what good do these tactics do if you’re not happy with the outcome?

There are many awesome tips and tricks for increasing productivity out there. However, they’re not necessarily meant for us writers. These pointers and suggestions may prove to be very helpful for someone with a regular type of job. By that, I mean that they may help with scheduling their time around meetings, replying to emails, responding to phone calls, and getting some paperwork done. But those pieces of advice are not always targeted at people who wish to spend hours on end writing. These strategies don’t account for the mental effort and creative energy that our job demands either.

Don’t lose hope just yet, though! You don’t have to be sleep-deprived and stressed out to pursue your career in writing. You just need to read this article to find out the ten most efficient time management strategies you need to finish writing your book on time.

Get Rid of Distractions

If you’re an author, then you know that distractions are a writer’s worst enemy. It takes us a lot of effort to get into the “zone.” We can feel the internal excitement and thrill whenever our fingers seem to roll smoothly onto the keyboard. Nothing feels better than to have your mind keep up with your speedy typing pace. Everything seems to be going well, and you think to yourself, “I might actually finish this on time.” But then, your kid comes home from school, or you hear your phone ding, and you lose your creative mojo.

This is why, whenever you decide to sit down and write, you need to make sure that you will not be interrupted throughout your entire writing session. Keep your phone away, and if necessary, let your friends and family know that you’ll be working. Avoid checking your email, log yourself out of social media, and don’t mind the doorbell. If you need to stay online for writing purposes, make sure to close all the other tabs on your browser. You can download a browser extension that limits your ability to visit social media and shopping websites where you’re likely to linger.

Use Your Writing Time to, Well, Write

It doesn’t matter if you have as little as five minutes or as long as three hours to jot down some words for your book. The most important thing is that you make the most out of the time you have. Dedicate this time for writing, and nothing else. You may be surprised to find that the same number of words that took you three hours to write yesterday, can take you half the amount of time when you’re solely focused on the task at hand. Taking a raincheck on that friendly chat or avoiding the sudden urge to organize your desk mid-writing can do wonders. This brings us to our next point…

Be Prepared

You want to make sure that you eliminate all possible diversions. This is why you need to be prepared for your writing session. If you’re hungry, make sure you’ve had a meal or a snack before you write. You should also try to finish any chores on your to-do list to get them out of the way. Make sure that your space is prepared, clean, and de-cluttered so you don’t feel compelled to clean it up as you write. Make yourself a nice cup of coffee and get started.

Set a Timer

Everyone has an attention span, which means that you’ll most likely be unable to focus for several hours on end. When we try to push our limits, we end up taking breaks that are a couple of hours long, which defeats the initial purpose. Instead, set a timer that allows you to write for thirty to forty-five minutes straight. When it goes off, get up and do something else for ten minutes, set it again, and go back to your writing. Make sure to avoid technology during your break, as it will not allow you to mentally recharge. Technology is also highly distracting. Your ten-minute break may end up stretching into an hour-long timeout.

More Planning, Less Editing

As writers, ideas are always flowing in and out of our minds. This is why many of us feel pressured to dive right into the writing process without taking the time to plan ahead. Think things through. The more time you spend planning your work, the fewer resources and time you’re going to have to spend on editing. It can be very daunting to entirely redo and get rid of weeks, or even months of effort when you realize that you didn’t go in the right direction with your book. Spend a fair amount of time planning your project and its details before you start writing. If you started the writing process, pause and spend at least five minutes planning and reviewing for your writing session beforehand. 

Set SMART Goals

Writing an entire book is a huge project to take on. It can often seem like there’s a very long path ahead of you, which can be quite discouraging and scary. This is why it’s imperative to break down this huge task into smaller, doable ones. Set SMART goals for yourself to stay on top of your timeline and ensure that you don’t feel disheartened along the way. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, reliable, and timely. For instance, a SMART goal would be: “I will have eight chapters ready by the end of this month.” Make sure that your goal is realistic and accounts for your capabilities and all your other duties. Otherwise, you would be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Reward Yourself, You Deserve It!

Now that you have set SMART goals, you need to reward yourself for accomplishing them. Your milestones don’t have to be huge. You could be celebrating the fact that you met a deadline or finally got out of a creative rut. Your rewards don’t need to be big either. You can spend a night out with your friends, treat yourself to a coffee or a cute notebook, take a well-deserved nap, or take the day off for yourself. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you acknowledge that you got the job done and treat yourself for it.

If You Aren’t Writing, Get Some Downtime

You probably have other things to tend to. Whether you’re studying for a degree, have children, or have other duties to attend to, you may forget to relax in between the strenuous demands of life. But, as we’ve already established, our job requires a great deal of mental capacity. This is why you should never try to push yourself to write whenever you ever get a hint of free time. If you didn’t have “writing” down on your schedule or hadn’t intended to do it at that time, then you shouldn’t. You would just be burning yourself out.

Use your free time to sleep, go out with your friends, watch TV, or even lie down and stare at the ceiling. Make your downtime a priority. Believe it or not, this will boost your productivity in the long run. I know this may be hard for some people, but it’s important to allow yourself to do something restful during the last half hour of your day.

Start With the Hardest Task

Every writer dreads at least one thing about the writing process. You need to figure out what you hate doing the most and do it first. Once you get it out of the way, everything else will seem relatively easy. You will also feel accomplished, which will give you a psychological boost.

Get Help

You may have administrative tasks that need taking care of, kids to look after, or a home that needs maintenance. It’s okay to request and hire help. A virtual assistant can help you respond to emails or schedule appointments. You can also find a babysitter to help take care of your children whenever you’re busy writing.

Many of the time-management tips that we see online end up being disappointing rather than helpful. This is because they don’t account for the parameters of being a writer. Fortunately, following these ten tips will guarantee that you finish writing your book. 

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