3 Tips for Making Time to Write
TIP #1: MAKE WRITING THE FIRST THING
The easiest way to create a new habit is to make it one of the first things you do each day. As each new day progresses, you can be pulled in a number of different directions. There are simply too many distractions that come on once the day is set in motion, not to mention the fatigue that can overcome you after lunch.
What you resolve to do first thing in the morning, you will do. It is so much easier to sit down and write a page or two and then conduct your daily business than it is to check e-mail, pay bills, return phone calls, wash your hair, wash your dog, and get pulled into half a dozen different tasks, before trying to write a page or two. This is why many people exercise first thing in the morning. Well, for the next 30 days your exercise is writing. Time management is really self-management.
TIP #2: ADHERE TO THE PARETO PRINCIPLE
Have you heard of the Pareto principle, or the 80-20 rule? It is the principle that 20 percent of your time and effort generates 80 percent of the results, or that 80 percent of what you accomplish is caused by 20 percent of your effort.
So, if 20 percent of your effort causes 80 of your accomplishments, wouldn’t it be great if you focused on that 20 percent of result-getting effort 100 percent of the time? Of course it would! Think of all the free time you would have if you only had to do a fraction, the most effective part, of the daily, too-often-unproductive grind. We all waste time and effort, every single day. We do things that will get us nowhere, things that won’t yield any value in our lives. This stuff takes up 80 percent of our effort, if we let it. This means that as you embark on your journey of writing you must:
drop all that busy work that gets you nowhere;
drop all the negative friends who drag you down;
drop all your high expectations—you don’t have to have the cleanest house on the block.
drop whatever you find is within that 80 percent of wasted effort. Focus on that result-getting 20 percent of effort.
When you focus on things that don’t truly matter to you, you are working within the 80 percent of effort that won’t get you the 20-percent results you want. How could it?
We have so much more time available to us now than at any other time in history; it’s just that our thinking is flawed. There was a time when women spent ten hours doing the laundry by hand; now, we just pop it into a machine.
Studies show we actually have too much time available to us, and we squander it.
We fill our days with meaningless tasks. Quote by author Richard Koch, "We have never been so free, yet failed to realize the extent of our freedom. We have never had so much time, yet felt we had so little. Modern life bullies us to speed up our lives … but going faster only makes us feel like we’re always behind."
Simplify your life and focus on the 20 percent of activity and effort that gives you 80 percent of happiness and results, at least for 30 days.
Don’t get confused here—this principle is not about being fast but about slowing down and focusing on what is important to you. If you want to go to the country (your goal), you can go via the quick, less scenic route or the longer, more picturesque one. Both routes fit in with the 80-20 principle—if you like to drive fast then take a fast route; if you like to enjoy the scenery then take the scenic route. You create your goal and then get there in the way that uses your skills and interests … your 20 percent.
If you force yourself to go via the scenic route when you really love speed, you will be unhappy because you won’t get there fast enough; thus, the scenic route becomes part of your 80 percent of wasted effort. The trick, then, is to know both your “to-do” and “not to-do” list, to know your wants as well as your don’t-wants.
TIP # 3: KEEP TRACK OF YOUR WRITING TIME
Keep track of your writing time every time you write. Write the number of hours you spend, over 30 days. Each week total the time and compare to the week before.
When you sit down to write, note the time and when you are done jot down how long you worked. Write down the distractions that keep you from writing and try and eliminate them. Turn off your phone. Isolate yourself. One writer I knew would go the the library at a specific time each day or week.