Robert F. Kennedy Jr., writer and environmenta...

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As a writer, time, and not talent is probably your most precious commodity.  Precious as gold. Just as valuable and, for many, just as scarce. When I first dreamed of becoming a writer, I envisioned myself sitting by a window in a mahogany-lined office from which I could see a sparkling lake in the distance and a pristine garden in the foreground. The window would be open and occasionally I would hear the lilting call of a sparrow to its mate. Well, it all came true – in my dreams.

In the real world, I write mentally while on my way to work, or while in the shower or during my meal, so that when I do get a few minutes I have the scene or the paragraphs already worked out. Then there are deadlines. If you value your reptuation as a writer, you do not want to miss a deadline. If you have to miss one, let the client or editor know ahead of time. Do not wait until the thing is due, then to pick up the phone and say, “Sorry, I can’t make it.” In my years of freelance writing I only missed one deadline and that was because the client and I had to work out some details relating to the assignment. The bottom line is to behave professionally at all times, and that includes fulfilling your delivery milestones on time.

The following tips should help you improve your time management skills as a writer:

1. Keep your goals in focus. According to Franklin Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “If your personal actions are not aligned with your personal values, priorities and long-term goals then performance suffers.” You may be very busy, overwhelmed, but yet produce little. It may help to write your goals on sticky notes and keep them close to your computer. I like my Windows 7 which has the little sticky notes that I can post to my desktop. That way they are always in my line of sight unless I delete them.

2. Put first things first. This means taking care of  important matters, like writing, working on an assignment, doing research, writing a query letter, before you delve into the less important ones – emailing and social networking. These actions have their value, but they can hamper your time management efforts.

3. Make a schedule and stick to it. Make use of programs such as Excel to schedule your time management for every day of the week. If you have fifteen minutes a day to spend on your writing, don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked into doing something else. Use those fifteen minutes for the writing task you have assigned yourself that day, and nothing else. This will help you overcome procrastination and deal with interruptions. Soon you will fall into a routine that will be hard to break.

Practice these time management techniques and you’ll  find yourself becoming more productive. Maybe you have some time management tips that work for you, or you find this article helpful. If yes, please leave a comment in the box below.




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