If you're anything like me, the hardest part of writing (many times) is finding the time. There all of these other things on your list. People who need you, things you need to do for yourself, etc. The hardest part about time management is learning what is and is not a good use of your valuable time. That's another key step, realize that your time IS valuable. You provide a valuable service. You, as a writer, entertain people. You help us escape for a few hours. You give us a ticket to our mental vacation. Make no mistake, that is a very valuable service.
Hopefully, hearing some of the things that are helpful to me in managing my time will help others. It seems like I got more accomplished as a writer when I worked another full-time job. Why? Because I didn't feel as compelled to do everything around the house. Plus, people assumed I was tired when I got home. Ha. Ha. Ha. Sad but true. When you work from your home, many times others will assume you aren't busy or haven't had as tough a day as they've had. That's just the way it is. Perceptions vary and there's nothing any of us can do about it.
I struggle with time management, but I finally feel as if I'm starting to get somewhere. This is what I've been working on lately.
I'm currently (right this moment in another window) leaving all the yahoo groups from which I receive no benefit whatsoever. Why am I doing this? Because I'm tired of sorting through all the digests in my email. When I got my first publishing contract, I was thrilled about sharing my excerpts and news in yahoo groups. I made the mistake of thinking these groups would be as awesome as the old MSN groups. Nope. While I will (of course) remain in my publisher's groups (because I DO benefit from those), most everything else, I'm leaving. I have yet to find that posting excerpts or even participating in general helps sales in the slightest. I have studied this closely over a period of years and listened to what others had to say on the subject as well. The end result: Yahoo groups don't help you sell more books. Therefore, I have determined this is not a good use of my time. I mean no offense to anyone running a yahoo group. This is a business decision, not a personal one. I think I'm also going to delete my old group or turn it into a mailing list or something.
Online forums besides yahoo - While these can be fun, I've also found no concrete benefit here either. It would appear that my posts in other places of this nature get less and less views. I'm remaining on one of my favorite forums simply because I like the people I've met there. I've severely limited the time I spend on this because (usually), I am the only one there.
I've also left Triberr for the same basic reason. I saw no real benefit. No increase in sales or anything else. While I've heard others say it worked for them, the majority of people I hear from have experienced similar results. It is difficult to find a tribe that is suited to the interests of your Twitter followers. Many times the members of your tribe won't even post your stuff. Not to mention, some tribes add nothing but extra drama to your life. I don't know about you, but I'm not looking for drama unless I go to the theater.
I am active on Facebook, but not to the extent I was before. It's important to keep in touch with friends and to make yourself available to readers. But you don't have to live there.
Playing Castleville is NOT a priority. HAHAHA!! Seriously, I've battled with this one. I still play, but once again, I've severely limited my time.
I've done hours and hours of research, trying to find what magically makes books sale. Many people who read ebooks (my primary format) no longer read print magazines. Even when you find an online magazine that reaches your target audience, whether or not your ad will lead to sales is a shot in the dark. Obsessing over this was NOT a good use of my time. The only thing I can control is putting out another quality book. THAT I can handle, so THAT is where my focus is.
Scouring the net for any and all mentions of me and my work was also NOT a good use of my time. So, I stopped. Cold turkey. There is negativity everywhere, no matter what your profession. You will encounter enough without any help whatsoever. Don't go looking for it.
Exercise is a must. Make time.
Doing things with my family, is a good use of my time. (Like that pumpkin garden I love so much.)
Mowing the yard is a good use of my time. So is writing my next chapter. Do one or the other. Make a decision, do it well and stop obsessing over the one you didn't choose.
Another thing that has helped me is to set a word count goal for the week. I've only been doing this for a few weeks now, but it has helped tremendously. I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I make that goal AND get my house clean.
All these things are continuing to help me manage my time. Since I can't afford a national ad campaign, the only thing I can do is write my next book and make it a good one. Until I figure out what advertising works best, I can no longer afford to experiment.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to work on meeting that word count goal for the week.