Indie Life: Experiments in Time Management

IndieLife7Today’s post is part of Indie Life, a blog hop for independent authors hosted by the Indelibles.  Click here to see a list of participating blogs.

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I recently took a great leap of faith, dropping to part-time employment so I could pursue my writing dreams.  I quickly learned, however, that I was not as well prepared as I’d thought.  As I wrote in last month’s Indie Life, I suck at time management.  Fortunately, I think I’ve finally found a system that works for me.

At first, I thought I could just “wing it.”  I love writing so much I assumed I wouldn’t need to coerce myself into doing it.  When that failed, I tried planning everything ahead with a weekly writing schedule.  That also failed, mainly due to the unpredictability of certain health problems.  Just as I began to worry that I couldn’t handle life as an indie writer, my next experiment in time management turned into a huge success.

Being an indie writer is like having a job, so I’m requiring myself to “clock in” for at least 25 hours a week (combined with my part time job, that means I have 50-hour work weeks).  If I’m too sick to write or if my muse is being shy, that’s okay.  I’ll clock in later, just so long as I get my 25 hours done eventually.  And because I write down when I clock in and what I’m working on during that time, I now have surprisingly detailed records of my progress.

These pie charts show how much time I spend writing, working on art (I’m also pursuing a career as a freelance illustrator), and dealing with what I call “communications.”

Clock Act Week 1 Clock Act Week 2 Clock Act Week 3

Communications represents the whole business side of my indie writer/illustrator career.  It includes things like networking and social media.  Based on my records, I can clearly see that I’m not spending enough time on communications.  So not only has my new clock rule solved my time management problem, but it’s helped me identify areas where I need improvement.

I’m not trying to convince you to have your own clock rule.  What works for one person might not work for another.  My point is that if you stumble, if your preconceived notions about being a writer prove false, don’t despair.  Try something new.  Keep trying new ideas until you find a system that work for you.

So what are you struggling with as an indie writer and what solutions have you tried?  How well have they worked for you?

P.S.: Pie charts created using the website chartmaker.mathwarehouse.com.

8 Responses to Indie Life: Experiments in Time Management

  1. Ansha Kotyk says:

    I actually posted on the same thing today for Indie Life. Time management is on of the most challenging things we face as self-employed writers. It’s really important that we learn how to use the time we have as effectively as we can. I’m all about the numbers. I love the charts you created. I’m hoping to do the same thing this year (when school starts in 2 weeks!!).

    Like

  2. Time management is always a challenge, especially in the summer when my boys are home and the sun beckons. Your pie charts and ideas on how to organize time are helpful to think about. Just getting those hours in!

    Like

  3. Lauren says:

    I quit my job two years ago (two years August 5th) to write. I’m down to the wire, but it’s been literally the best two years of my life.

    When I can’t write (usually because I’m recharging) I make sure I do an equal amount of editing or some other writing related chore. At the beginning I had a 20 hour rule, but 20 hours quickly turned into 70. My problem is slowing down so I have a life outside my writing.

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  4. […] of everything: deadlines, word counts, the number of hours I spend writing…  I even make pie charts about this stuff.  In short, I do a lot of counting, and that usually serves me well.  Counting […]

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  5. Monserrate says:

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    Like

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