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Monday, August 19, 2013

The Writing Schedule You Need Right Now

The first in a series on organized writing

Maybe you follow this blog regularly, or perhaps you’re looking to streamline your writing and the title of this post caught your eye. Either way, I know of few writers who don’t feel they could use more time. So I’m doing a week-long series to help writers find more time—and fun—in their day. This will not only help productivity, but it can change the way we think and live.

How many of the following statements can you relate to:

-There never seems to be enough time for writing.
-When I write, I am easily distracted by the internet.
-When I write, I find myself thinking of other things I should be doing.
-At the end of the day, I rarely feel I’ve done as much as I needed to.
-I spend so much time writing there isn’t enough time to promote.
OR
-I spend so much time promoting there isn’t enough time to write.
-I don’t get much time for myself.
-I get burned out on writing.
-There are new things/places I’d like to try out, but I never get around to it.
-I feel guilty that my writing takes away from my friends/partner/family.

Did you nod at two of these? Four? All? I’ve faced each of these at one time or another, but I have found a way to alleviate most all of it with one simple idea. Implementing it is free, available right on the computer, and takes no more than an afternoon’s worth of time to set up. It’s called a schedule calendar.

Before you groan and stop reading, I’m not talking about just another rigid, boring writing calendar. There are schedules and there are schedules that work, and this is one that will work. What’s different about this is the method we will use to make the scheduleand why. The approach is what makes this the writing schedule that will change everything.

How? By doing the exact opposite of how most schedules are set up. You will not begin by penciling in a laundry list of must-do (and likely boring) tasks. The focus begins with scheduling blank time and FUN. Yes, fun. The rest flows in organically around that. (I promise.)

Sound like a five-year-old’s dream? Precisely. There’s no better way to kill off the creativity we are all born with than to focus the bulk of our energy on rote obligations. When was the last time you gave yourself permission to let go and enjoy life? To emphasize de-stressing activities—or even doing nothing at all?

Free Yourself!
This schedule will teach you to focus on making essential downtime a priority, which in turn will allow you to fill your cup so you can give more to your writing, your relationships, and your responsibilities. It will let you free yourself to be happier and more productive at the same time. And what’s better, this method guarantees you will find time to implement it, regardless of how busy you are.

During this week-long series, I’ll be taking you step-by-step through the simple process of setting up the system. The schedule is easy enough to do, but it requires an open mind and willingness to shift how you prioritize yourself.

Today’s Assignment: Get a Scheduling Calendar or App

The first thing you’ll need to decide is what to use for a scheduler. There are fancy planners and daily organizers you can get, both paper varieties and online. You can certainly use them, but I prefer a simple calendar program. I also recommend web-based calendars over paper, not only because it’s one less thing to misplace, but because recurring tasks can quickly be added forevermore with the click of a button.

Some free calendars include Windows Calendar, Google Calendar, Yahoo! Calendar, and the one I use currently, Keep and Share (a free, web-based calendar and organizing system). If you want a scheduler for your phone or tablet that’s a little more upscale, I also recommend Cozi organizer. Search for it in your device’s app store.

Whichever calendar program you select, they all work basically the same way. For this system, we will take advantage of color coding entries and the option to automatically fill in future activities with the repeat/recurring event feature. 

To get started, begin a new blank calendar and call it MY SCHEDULE or something clever. If your program has the option to show or hide holidays, you may turn on the holidays relevant to your country. You can try it out by adding a test entry to see how it works, then delete it. That’s it for today. Do not start adding anything yet! No doctor’s appointments, work schedules, writing deadlines…nothing. You will be filling in this schedule in a very precise order, step by step as I list it in the coming week. No cheating!

IMPORTANT: IF YOU’RE ALREADY USING A CALENDAR PROGRAM…

…Great! You’re already familiar with how to use it. However, we’re starting with a fresh slate and a whole new approach, so you will not be using a calendar you have already been filling out. Start a new blank calendar and call it NEW SCHEDULE, FREE AT LAST, or something to that effect. Turn off the other calendars you have so you don’t see them while you’re working—for now, at least.

Tomorrow will be quite exciting—we’re going to dive right in and make an extra hour of time appear by magic!


If you have any questions thus far about the method, or questions/recommendations about what calendar to choose or how to use them, please feel free to post them in the comments below. Otherwise, go out and get that calendar ready for the next post!

Part 1: The writing schedule you need RIGHT NOW
Part 2: How to gain an extra hour every day
Part 3: Take a day OFF and be more productive
Part 4: The Smart Time approach to cleaning and appointment management
Part 5: Find Time for Everything You've Always Wanted to Try

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I'm J. Rose Allister, wife, working mom, and the author of over twenty-five books. Somewhere in between one and the next, I love hanging out here on my blog and over on Twitter. Give me a comment or follow-I love chatting with people! And if you enjoyed this post, consider sharing with friends and subscribing for updates.

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