To give you some ideas on what kinds of things you might want to catch up on during May’s Anti-Procrastination Month, I thought I’d share with you my list (in no particular order).
Work on the category romance that I want to finish and send out by August 1. Yeah, the one I’ve barely even looked at since grad school started in March.
Choose which magazine to send the article to that was rejected last week by Writer’s Digest, then get it out in the mail.
Submit a piece to the Christmas anthology that I’ve been meaning to submit to for weeks. (Oh, and actually write the piece!)
Catch up on all the readings that have been assigned this semester for all of my classes.
Read the Margie Lawson “Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors” lecture packet that I started and didn’t finish in January.
Read the other great Margie Lawson lectures I've bought and not finished reading yet!
Take the time (what time?!) to work on promotional items for Routines for Writers.
Continue to research for the superheroes book, and the new angels/demons story that I’m writing for class.
Read some more YA books as research for the story I'm writing for class.
That’s the short list – for now! LOL! And it doesn’t include all the “regular” or “household” items that need to be done – like choose and buy an anniversary present for my husband for our 20th anniversary this week! Eek! LOL!
The big question when I make a list is – how in the world am I going to get this all done? Well, I was praying for wisdom this week and what do you know – God really does use email! I subscribe to a daily email from Motivation in a Minute and a recent email had this quote from Amy Jones:
To do twice as much in half the time, you can’t approach your goals haphazardly. A well-thought plan will keep you clearly on track towards your goal; and the methods of planning are as varied as our personalities.
I have a tendency to think that there is plenty of time to get everything done. But experience has taught me that optimism alone is not my friend. I need a plan. One that is too structured will make me crazy and I’ll quit sooner than later. A plan that is nothing more than a To Do list won’t help me stay organized and disciplined enough to get the most important items done first. (And since I’m now convinced I will die with a long To Do list with many items not crossed off, getting the most important ones done is crucial to my emotional well-being!)
Last year at Routines for Writers, I talked about my new routine – My First Five. It’s been working! There are only so many things I can remember to do at once. And when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I need to know what the next thing is that I should do. Just one. So the First Five helps me prioritize. What I need to do now is create a Next Five, and a Next Five after that. I got my First Five done yesterday morning without any problem, then I watched a taped TV program later while I ate lunch and somehow the day just fell apart after that. Today, I did my First Five then looked at my list and put a bullet next to all the things that had to be done today. That didn’t work as well as I’d hoped either. Because I also did several things that didn’t have to be done today. So starting tomorrow, I’m going to organize my To Do List into groups of five items. I’ll let you know if I get more work done.
One last thing – I recently heard about a software program called Freedom. It’s sort of a time-lock for your Internet connection. You can set it for any amount of time up to eight hours and during that time you won’t be able to access the Internet or send and receive email. It’s $10 and is available for both Windows and Mac. I think it’s hysterical that I’m actually going to spend money on a program that will force me to focus! (Why can’t I do that by myself??) I’ll let you know how it’s working.
If you do better with a little accountability, stop by Routines for Writers and tell us what you want to get done this month! We’ll encourage you to keep going and find a routine that works for you. Happy Writing!
Kitty Bucholtz is the co-founder of Routines for Writers, a web site dedicated to helping writers write more. She writes romance novels, light urban fantasy novels for adults and young adults, and magazine articles. She is currently enrolled in the Master of Arts in Creative Writing program at University of Technology, Sydney.