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Time Management- Is Doing it All is Doing it Wrong?

If you’re spending more time on social media than writing your book you’re doing it wrong. I know, that’s harsh, but nothing sells a book like, well, having a book. A great book. Right? So you have to make time to write that book and here’s some ideas on how to do that.

Budget Your Time

When I was asked to speak to the topic of time management for authors I was well prepared. I had learned from my own mistakes and had found some great solutions that worked well for me.
What I know is that it takes time to write a book and it takes time to promote the book. To date, if you can’t afford an advertising budget (and even if you can), you need to be out there engaging in social media. I hear about authors who don’t have to do their own social media, but those people are usually a literary celebrity. If you are not a literary celebrity, you need to be out there engaging with fans and potential fans.

Just like you budget your finances to keep yourself out of debt, you need to budget your time in order to make deadlines and keep your sanity.

Setting A Weekly Time Budget

I set the goal for the week. I’ll have my “main goal” which is the goal that I know needs the majority of my time and then I will have a minor goal or goals.

I work 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week. So I have allotted 50 hours for work. If I don’t work all 50, that’s fine. But, I want to be sure not to go over that limit.

Of those 50 hours an author might allot 30 hours to writing, 20 hours to promotion including social media.  It may be you only have 10 hours to work on your writing, so write for 7 hours and promote for 3 hours. But, give the majority of your time to your main goal. If the goal at that time is writing, that gets the lion’s share of your available work time.  If you need to flip that and promote as your main goal for the moment, still find time to write.

Be flexible. Know your main goal for the week may change according to circumstances. If you are falling behind and are deadline you may need to spend more time writing. If you are not on deadline and your book releases next week, you may want to have your goal be promotion. Still work within your allotted time.

Only YOU can determine how much time you have to give each week. If you work another job, have children and/or other obligations you must take those situations into consideration as you look to budget your time for writing and promoting.

Setting a Daily Time Budget

Once you budget your weekly time and determine your main goal, determine how much time you will work on any minor goals.  It may be that you must work at different times on different days. Once you know your hourly budget, set up times to work. But again, the word of the day is, “flexible”.  Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have to adjust your time. But, even if you adjust it, try to stick to your weekly allotment.  Being disciplined is one of the greatest challenges for any writer.

What to do with your Budgeted Time

You work on your main goal and now you have several minor goals. One of them is to work on promotion and within that you have set aside time for social media.

Make a list of the type of promotion you plan on doing for the week.  Be clear on what your goal is and how you will achieve it.  Set small, achievable goals that you can complete. Having goals you never quite complete can be detrimental to your overall wellbeing. So, set some goals you know you can complete. When you complete them you will have a sense of accomplishment which will help feed your emotional wellbeing and help you stay positive.

So you made a list of goals. You’ve defined how you will determine the goals were met that week. Next,  you want to break it down even further. Of your allotted hours for social media how much will be spent on Twitter and how much on Facebook? Do you spend time on GoodReads or Instagram?

Which Social Media Sites are Worth my Time?

Knowing how many sites to participate in, which ones and for how long is something you can determine as you create your budget. Some sites might be fine to visit and engage only once a month. Some may be once a day and others could be none at all. That’s right, none. You do NOT have to participate in everything.

Currently, I participate in the following:

My blog (weekly)

My website (weekly)

Facebook (daily…okay, full disclosure, I am probably here WAY too much)

Twitter (daily)

YouTube (daily)

Instagram (weekly)

Goodreads (weekly)

To determine which sites you should be investing in the best thing to do is to listen and learn. Learn from your audience. Where are they? Where do they normally engage with you? Go where they are, not where you want to be. Not unless you have a plan so diabolical that it can Jedi mind trick thousands of fans into going somewhere they don’t really want to be so they can do what you want to do. Some of us are able to do this to an extent. Like to our spouse or our children, but for the masses, you are better off going where they are.

Gather data. Who do you want your audience to be? Where are those people gathering? How can you engage with them there? One you determine where to be and what to do there keep an eye on your return on investment. Yes, your time is an investment.  You may like it there, but if you get no engagement, no chance to build relationships and no interest in your book, you need to find somewhere else to spend your time.

Realize this is ever-evolving. Remember the days when MySpace was the big thing? Don’t think Facebook will be immune to epic fail. It is not. Anything can happen. Don’t put your promotion all in one place. Or, at least have a back-up plan for if and when the social media landscape changes yet again. Always be open to new ideas and opportunities.

Tips, Tricks and Cheats

Buy a timer. Set the timer for 20 minutes, an hour, whatever you’ve allotted for your time on a specific project.  When the timer goes off, switch projects. Go out for coffee. Water your plants! Do something else that needs doing.

Go elsewhere.  Working from home takes discipline. Not just from you, but from your family.  Sometimes the needs of the household become a tractor-beam to your guilt-magnet and you put off work on your book to do something for your family. That’s admirable and all, but the only way you can keep adding to your day is to stop sleeping. So, instead of taking on even one more thing, it might be a good idea to leave the house and work elsewhere. You might leave for an hour, a day or go on a writer’s retreat for a week.  Get away to a place that leaves you guilt-free and allows you to concentrate on your book or promotion.

Reward yourself. Yes, there really is a reason for chocolate. Or a pajama day. Or wine before dinner.  If you do not reward yourself for attaining your goals you can become negative when you have to work.  Keep yourself positive and give yourself something for meeting those deadlines.

Take care of yourself. This is the one that seems to be the hardest.  You work, you write, you take care of your home, your kids, your dog. The very last thing we tend to take care of is ourselves. You must schedule time for yourself when you budget your weekly goals.  Go for a walk. Go out to a movie. Meditate. Eat right.  Think about your needs and take care of them. Don’t think someone is going to see how hard you’re working and offer to give you a break. It could happen. But, don’t hold your breath.  That’s not good for you either!  You are the only person who can really take care of you.  So schedule time for yourself!

Hire a professional. Have you maxed out and now you’re losing sleep? Your hair? Your sanity?  At some point time will be more valuable than money. When that happens you will need to let go of one or the other.  If you don’t hire a personal assistant to help with your career, then hire a housekeeper to come in once a week and do the chores you hate to do.  If that doesn’t work for you, wait until cloning has been mastered.

Write several blogs at once.  If you don’t have time each week to blog, you can sit down for one or two hours and write several short blogs. Blogs are not novels. Two or three paragraphs can fit the bill as long as the material is interesting.  Schedule those blogs to release once a week and then schedule yourself blog-writing time again the following month.

Keep your eyes open for new trends or opportunities to save you time! A new trend I’m seeing is http://paper.li/ where you can use other people’s news to help you create a daily or weekly blog/newspaper.  It’s a great way to acknowledge those you respect or what to help promote while benefiting from other people’s great material.

 

In a nutshell:  Identify how many hours a week you work on your goals.  Discipline yourself to work within that budgeted amount of time. Make sure what you spend your time on is paying off for you.

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