Scheduling Time To Blog, Write, Work And Live

Back in 2009 I wrote a post titled How I Write Blog Posts. I talked about the process I go through when I’m trying to figure out what I want to write and how I want to write it. I’ve also given lots of tips on blogging in general.

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I thought those things were fairly simple and would help a lot of people out. Yet over the years I see more people who write comments saying they can’t figure out how I have the time to do any writing at all, let alone all the writing and other things I do. Truthfully, writing is the easy part; the rest of it isn’t always so smooth.

That is, unless I schedule my time out in advance. When I do that I accomplish a lot of good thing and push forward on others. I thought I’d share some of my processes in that regard because I’m about to put it into practice over the next two weeks, Monday through Friday, as I get prepared for my wife finally coming back home after 9 months. I think it would be nice to spend some time with her before she’s off again; I might talk about that part at another time.

Just so you know, I’m changing things up a bit this week. I always schedule my time the night ahead and usually that’s as far as I go. This week I’m scheduling out the entire week in advance because I have some things planned that I need to schedule around and I’m also going to be trying to get more rest to see if that helps my concentration any, which I mentioned in my previous post.

The first step is to schedule what time I’m going to wake up. Usually I start my real schedule pretty late, like around 11AM, for those times when I figure I’m probably not going to bed until 3AM or so… sometimes later. Over the course of the next two weeks, the plan is to go to bed by 1:30 and wake up at 9AM. Luckily, with Android I can set the alarm so it’ll go off at that time every day I need it; this week only Friday won’t be scheduled like that because I have a meeting at 8:30 on Friday with my consultant’s group.

Next, I set something that many of you won’t but it’s not a bad thing to do. I set my alarm to tell me to write something in my gratitude journal and then to eat something. This is something I started last June and wrote about on my other blog talking about 5 Steps To A Better Day. Thing is, I don’t do the gratitude journal every day, but I’ve noticed when I do that my days actually do go better. I also realize that waking up earlier means I’m going to have to eat something earlier, which I rarely do, but this might help give me more energy.

Now it’s time to plan the rest of my day. There are things I have to work around, such as today, where I’m being interviewed by someone on the topic of values for a podcast; isn’t that kind of cool?

Here’s how I’ve learned to plan my days. I plan them in time chunks depending on what it is I need to do. For instance, if I need to write a blog post, I schedule an hour. As I’ve started writing some longer posts I’ve found it takes longer than 10 or 15 minutes to write one, but by scheduling an hour it allows me to decide if I’m going to write two blog posts or not. Hey, y’all know how many blogs I’m writing for these days. 🙂 For the book I’m working on I schedule an hour also.

Routines: checking the schedule.
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For email I schedule it in 30 minute chunks. Meals get 45 minutes. I also schedule in rest periods, but with my normal scheduling pattern I usually only schedule one break a day, which doesn’t include a second meal period. This week I’m scheduling two periods a day, but the second rest period will also denote the end of my work day. In my previous post I mentioned that I don’t sleep much, so this week it’s my intention to try to get a total of at least 5 hours sleep a day, and if it takes naps to get there then so be it.

As an example, here’s my schedule today:

9AM – Wake
9:15 – Gratitude journal & eat
10AM – Podcast interview
10:45 – return business call from Friday
11AM – work on book
12PM – research VA’s for research project
1PM – rest period
2:15 – post office
2:35 – email
3:15 – article for business blog
3:45 – work on book
4:30PM – pick up Scott from work

That’s pretty much how I do it. I can schedule my entire week based off the first day of the week. For instance, I obviously won’t have another interview this week that I know of, and I really will only have to address writing blog posts one other day this week, which means I can work in some walking time, which should work well since it’s finally going to hit the 70’s here by Thursday. I also won’t have to go to the post office again, and if I do the research properly I won’t need to do anything on the VA front again… but if I do one more day should handle it.

What this means is that I’ll be able to work a couple more things into the week such as marketing time, research time for my consulting business, and maybe a bit of local networking… which I almost never do because I almost never schedule it.

The thing about scheduling things is that you can alter plans when you can and still get most things done. For instance, you’ll notice above that I’ve already had to throw out my second rest period because I agreed to pick up my friend from work to take him to get his new car; aren’t I a nice friend? 🙂 Also, my new book is a priority that I’d love to finish way sooner than the 2 1/2 years it took me to get through my last book; whew!

Truthfully, all of us can accomplish great things in short chunks of time. A couple of years ago I purchased an ebook from a friend of mine named Marelisa Fàbrega titled The One Hour A Day Formula that helped me get part of my mindset in check. I realized that I can’t sit down and write for hours at a time like I could 10 years ago. Breaking things up works well for me, and it’s worked for a lot of other folks you may have heard of. Anyway, check that out, and this isn’t an affiliate link of any kind so I’m not getting anything from it; how many of you would do something like this for free? 😉

That’s my way of scheduling, using the smartphone of course. What do you think, and are you ready to try scheduling your time to see how productive you can be? Let me know; enjoy the week!
 

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Book Writing Series Part Three – When And How To Write

As we move into stage three, I first want to look back at my post titled How Do You Write from a couple of weeks ago. First, at that time I was asking about how people wrote their blogs, as far as it pertained to speed, length of posts, and frequency. I wanted it to be clear that this particular step is going to talk about something quite different, but if you want to go back and read that post, I won’t be mad at you.

First, let’s look at when you’ll write. Pretty much, you can write whenever you feel like writing, obviously. When I first started writing my book, I decided that I was going to write from Friday through Sunday as much as possible, because I needed time during the week to work on marketing my business. Sometimes I wrote in the evenings when the mood hit me, but mainly I wrote on the weekends. I felt that if I was going to progress that I had to schedule myself the time to write.

For some people, they like scheduling their time to write. Big time novelists write in different ways themselves. Some treat it just like a job, spending 8 hours a day writing or researching to write their books. Some writers will decide to write only two hours a day. Some people like waking very early in the morning and putting their time in before going about their day; some people like to have their days to themselves, then work at night.

When you decide to write isn’t as important as having a schedule for when you hope to write. You don’t have to stick to the schedule, of course, but it works out much better if you can. However, always be prepared for life to get in the way of things.

As a for instance, I started my book in late July of 2001. I pretty much kept to my schedule, and things were coming along pretty well. Then, out of the blue, we all know what happened on September 11, 2001. Living in the state of New York, I felt the pain of the day pretty much like most New Yorkers did, being about 5 hours from the event. For three days I did nothing but watch TV until I was able to finally pull myself away from it all. However, it pretty much took me two months after that before I would even come close to consider getting back to the book. I just couldn’t concentrate on it at that point, or anything else, which wasn’t good, but we all deal with shock in our own way.

What brought me back to my senses was learning that my dad had cancer. Earlier in the year he had gone on dialysis, and I had started my own business, and after 9/11 now I’m learning that my dad had cancer. I knew for the first time just how sick my dad was, and I wasn’t sure how long he would be with us. I decided then and there that I was going to finish my book as quickly as I could so that I could tell Dad that I’d written it, and hopefully he’d have the opportunity to read it, if possible.

So I redoubled my efforts, but I found that I was having some difficulties. Here is where I’m going to move into part two of this lesson, that being the how one writes. I’m a typing guy; lucky for me, when I feel like it, I can type close to 100 words a minute. Some people love typing on the computer, which is me. Some people still use old time typewriters. Some folks like hand writing everything. All of these are good, but there’s something you could think of doing that might help you get over the hump.

I found myself starting to get into some kind of rut, and that was driving me nuts. What I decided to do was head to the computer store and buy some voice recognition software. At the time, I purchased IBM’s Via Voice recognition software, which worked pretty well, although now I use Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking software, which is much better. You go through a training process where you read scripted writings and the program learns your voice, and then you’re good to go. No software is perfect because none of us speaks perfectly, but it’s pretty good, and all it leaves for you to do is go back and do some serious editing. There will never be any spelling mistakes, but that could make editing slightly difficult.

However, this allowed me to really push the rest of my book through. It obviously works better with nonfiction than fiction because it will never spell weird names properly, although you can train it to recognize some names, but it makes things go really nicely, no matter how fast you can type, because you can just talk and talk and have all these words down in your word processing program, and since you’d have to edit your book anyway, it’s easier to go back and only have to remove and retype what you need to. Anyway, I had many points that I wanted to get to as it regarded my book, and I hadn’t written a single thing for any of them other than what was on my outline. So, what I did was go to each point, speak a few paragraphs, just to get something down, then later on while I was editing, if I wanted to add more then I did, and I always wanted to write more. The voice recognition program was just what I needed to push through.

Of course, the final thing about how you’ll write is what conditions you want to surround yourself with. When I was deep into my writing I needed some type of sound in the background, so I’d put on music. It didn’t matter what type of music it was, because I pretty much blanked it out while I was writing anyway. This is opposed to what I do when I’m working from home and writing articles; in that case, I usually have the television on, with the sound down, because it makes me feel as though I’m in an environment where there’s other people around, and sometimes I need that for my sanity. Having a laptop makes life pretty good because sometimes I grab it and go to the library, or to Barnes and Noble if I want a cookie; I love their cookies! I know some people need absolute quiet, and that’s okay also; whatever makes you comfortable, that’s where you want to be.

And that’s the end of step three. At this point, all the upfront preparation topics have been covered, and now it’s time for you to write, figuratively speaking. Next time I’m going to talk about the editing process for your book; come back for more.

Chicken Soup for the Soul of America

by Jack Canfield,
Mark Victor Hansen,
and Matthew E. Adams


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