After getting my submissions in order, I decided that the next thing I had to organize better was my time. This is a big issue for me as I have a lot of family demands on my time that I don’t really have complete control over, and I need to be flexible. However, I also need a sort of guide to come back to, so that I know what I’m supposed to be doing when time presents itself.
I started looking for organizer programs, then realized that I already had one on my computer that I use every day, just not to its fullest capacity. My mail program, Outlook, which also has a built-in calendar, with the ability to schedule repeating tasks and appointments, reminders, etc. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. It was right in front of me the whole time.
So I spent an afternoon deciding how much time I had in the run of a week, and how I should apportion it. Other writers dealing with the same time issues might find this useful, so here’s what I did. First, I made a list of all the things, writing and writing-career-related, that require some of my time. Then I thought about how much time each one of them requires if I were addressing it on a weekly basis. For instance, publishing The Scriptorium. If I worked on it a bit at a time, instead of frantically trying to put together an issue in a day when the deadline hits, how much time would it take per week? How much time should I spend on the business aspects of writing? How much on Third Person Press? And so on.
Then I filled in a weekly calendar with all my non-negotiable time committments, and looked at what was left. Working back and forth this way, changing things around, and thinking about what times of day are better for me to do what sorts of tasks, I filled in the time slots. This gave me a baseline calender or schedule. It may change as I apply it to the real world, but it’s a starting point. Color-coding the chunks of time also lets me get an overview of how I’m spending the time.
I also made a second calendar, on which I can add one-time events or appointments. I can overlay this calender with my baseline calender to see a week at a glance and know what’s coming up that will interfere with my baseline schedule, and decide if I need to move things around just for the coming week.
I am just beginning to put it into practice, but so far it’s working well. If you’re having trouble fitting writing into your schedule, you may want to try this kind of strategy and see if it helps you apportion your time more productively. Although I’m using Outlook, find a calendar program that suits the way you like to work, and whose appearance and functionality you like. You’ll be a lot more likely to use it consistently if you do.