Thursday, March 10, 2011

Staying On Task

Why is staying on task so much easier on your permanent job versus your free time? While I’m at my regular job, (you know – the one that actually pays me and helps pay the bills) I am such an organized person. It doesn’t matter the deadline date or the task at hand, I always get it done. I may panic a bit along the way, but I never fail to meet my deadlines. One of my strongest traits at work is being able to prioritize anything and everything.

So why is it that I seem to be failing at that when it comes to my writing? I try to make a list of things to do but I always stray off the beaten path. I promise myself that I will stick to one story until I get it done and submitted. But within a day or so… I’ve moved on to another story and sometimes more then one. My list is a mile long and not much on it have I actually completed on task.

Last year, I made a weekly list but it didn’t seem to work so well. Maybe it’s because I have to FIT my writing, research, blogging and everything writing in between all my regular daily duties that absolutely have to get done. Like going to work everyday and actually doing what’s on my desk and not slumming off all day writing.

Anyway, this year I think I’m switching my task list to monthly tasks. I’m curious though, do you make a task list and is it weekly, daily, monthly? Let me know which works best for you.

15 comments:

  1. I understand exactly what you mean! At work, even though I find time to goof off, I still manage to get things done. When I'm writing I can't seem to gain a level of productivity. I have tried spreadsheeting my goals and that works a bit, but not enough.

    I'm curious to see what others think...maybe they can give us a clue!

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  2. While I cannot say this has worked too well yet, I tend to take Sunday nights to look at my regular work schedule for the next week and focus in on a chunk of time on one day that I will devote to writing projects. The problem is that, not just work gets in way. Sometimes that chunk gets eaten by personal tasks such as last minute school events, a crisis with the house or my car that has to take precedence, etc. However, one thing I do is promise myself that if the chunk gets gobbled, I'll spend a bigger amount of the next weekend working on writing. I do the same with work: if I don't make a deadline, I work on the weekend.

    sounds good. Just wish it worked better!

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  3. Well, it sounds like it's not the time spent writing that's not quite working, but the sticking to one project at a time. Why don't you make a deal with yourself that you will spend any writing time for one week working on one story only? And if your mind is still spinning on to other ideas, note them down before you forget (because they might be good ones) but go back to your task in hand right away.
    (Found you via the BookBlogs discussion - and signed up to follow.)

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  4. I (Melanie) used to have that problem, but my goals are a little different now. My work is flexible enough that as long as I am working with our authors at their speed everything turns out fine. I find I actually overwork too much, so I tend to take Saturdays and Sundays off unless trouble arises with an author.

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  5. My father-in-law recently retired. He said, "I thought I'd have all the time in the world. Now I don't have time for anything." lol

    I LOVE your blog and am following.

    ecwrites.blogspot.com

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  6. So true, Genilee. We all fall off the beaten path but I like how you account for if your "chunk of time gets gobbled up" you promise yourself to make it up the next week.

    Thanks Stacey and Genilee for your comments.

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  7. Ha ha, Elisabeth. Love what your father-in-law said.

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  8. I'm in a different situation because right now my two jobs are Mom and writer. I do have quite a bit of time to write everyday. But I do keep a planner with my writing goals for each day so that I stay on target with my deadlines.

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  9. I always have a 'to-do' list by my elbow. Actually, at the current moment in time, I have a number of /different/ 'to-do' lists. One for Uni work, one for general 'stuff', and one for my blog.

    In terms of keeping on-task with writing, I wrote a piece on Inspired-Quill not long ago that might help with the concentration aspect. http://www.inspired-quill.com/resources/concentration-challenges/

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  10. Well this question was a lot harder to answer this time last year when I was completing my first book, working full time and doing 15 credit hours to finish my degree. Sounds insane even to me but somehow I managed.

    My system was to set up my work schedule, blend in my school schedule and then I added writing. I would plan a month at a time and gave myself 'hard' deadlines like "Finish Chapter [insert number here] by the end of the month." With goals like that I was able to schedule school work on a day to day basis and I made writing my little 'treat' for being good.

    When other ideas would hit me I would do a quick and dirty story synopsis, and then make myself go back to finish the one I'm working on. It's so hard when there are so many stories living in your head. They become the seagulls in Finding Nemo "Mine! Mine!" All vying for your attention.

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  11. Thanks everyone for all the great tips. Sara, read your article, very helpful. Hopefully all of us will learn something and get new tips from our suggestions.

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  12. Hello,

    Thanks so much for following me , I am following back.

    nicole Weaver
    http://mysisterismybestfriend.blogspot.com

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  13. I dont have a weekly or monthly I have an on-going task list. As I'm with you with the day job, sometimes there isn't as much time for the fun job of writing. One think I can say, dont waste your time stressing about the list. Just get done what you can and move on to the next. good blog.

    ctny

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  14. I'm following you from book blogs. :)
    I have the same problem. I try to write out a daily to do list each Monday, but it really becomes the "try to finish all this by the end of the week" list. And then a few things make a reappearance the next week's list. I try to always have a pen and paper so I can write down/remember what I need to do, especially if I can't do it right that second.

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  15. I do that too, Kathy and it does help. I think Deborah hit the nail on the head for me though. I can stay on task, I just keep travelling from one story to the next! I've been trying her idea and it sometimes works, sometimes... not so much!

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