Last year I began writing down my schedule daily whether it be for the day job or writing job because I found I was forgetting too much, and keeping a schedule kept me on track. My productivity has definitely increased since I started doing this. So this post will give you an idea of how I work. I plan my time in two ways. First – I start Sunday night by scheduling my upcoming week. This keeps me on track with the bigger picture – like where I’m at with various projects:Then, every night before bed, I finish my day by writing up the schedule for the next day. This breaks the projects down into manageable steps. I like using a variety of colored pens because otherwise scheduling is BORING. Here was Friday’s schedule (I worked the p/t day job today) as written:
Notice how I didn’t actually write anything in the hourly schedule. The nature of my day job makes keeping a schedule like that almost impossible. I knew I had two major things to accomplish today. I got one of the two sets of tasks completed and will hold the things that weren’t done until Monday. They’ll go back on the planner again until they’re done. I also thought I would write tonight, but I was exhausted and ended up sleeping when I got home. I don’t beat myself up for stuff like this because my health is important to me and if my body decides it needs rest – it wins.
I do try to write a MINIMUM of 1000 words a day regardless. Like right now it’s past midnight on March 5 and I’m writing this blog. It’s 937 words.
Writing days are a different story. I expect I should write a MINIMUM of 2500 words per writing day (I sometimes go over 10K) unless I’m editing. If I do both editing and writing in the same day I usually reserve mornings for writing and afternoons for editing. I schedule each day differently based on the current projects I’m working on. My usual writing day generally looks like this:
- 8AM – Get up, have coffee and read email. (I sometimes schedule exercise in here, but sometimes not, I’m inconsistent with exercise in the morning)
- 9AM – 11:30AM – Write or edit depending on needs.
- 11:30-Noon – Social Media
- Noon-1PM – Lunch
- 1PM-3PM – Write or edit depending on project or needs.
- 3PM-4PM – Afternoon walk.
- 4PM-5PM – Marketing
- 5PM -6PM – Dinner
- 6PM-7PM – Time with spouse
- 7PM-10PM – Writing or social media or free time depending on needs.
Obviously this schedule is very unspecific just to illustrate a typical writing day. The actual schedule changes day to day if I have appointments, errands, the spouse needs more time, I have a deadline, and so on. If I have a super busy schedule I will actually write down an hourly schedule. I will do 40 minute writing sprints with 10 minutes to stand up and stretch + bathroom break and 10 minutes of social media time per hour on days where I’m pushing to get something done. I use Sundays to answer all email that can wait, and will schedule email requiring immediate attention for first thing in the morning. The only way I answer email during the day is if it’s important to me, my to-do list, or it somehow furthers my goals.
Social media — I struggle with this, too. The struggle is real. I use a free little program called FREEDOM to force myself to work on days where I need help. It works. However, some days my writing days are all about marketing. Like this past Thursday was the launch for SSM. So it was most important for me to get all the links up on social media, answer some interview questions for the upcoming blog tour, do some marketing and so on. I was also finishing up formatting and final line edits on Temple Apophis and had to get it into distribution. My Thursday night ended with me managing to release Temple Apophis a day early.
Then I rechecked my publishing schedule (yet another schedule I keep for myself to keep myself on top of projects needing completion) for the next six months and moved projects around.
Sometimes I’ll use HooteSuite to schedule marketing and posts in advance and I’ll take a Sunday to do this. The only time I’m consistent scheduling posts is if I’m going on vacation or I have big projects coming up and I know my social media time will be limited. I always joke that if I ever die and you notice I’m still posting, it’s because I actually took the time to schedule my marketing in advance. I do it with blogs, I do it with tweets, and I do it with FB posts.
Anyway – I actually recommend scheduling your next day the night before, especially if you find you can’t keep to a static schedule or that appointments or spontaneous chores derail your carefully planned generic schedule. It’s a little more work, but it’s more flexible than the static schedule.
That’s how I schedule my work days. How about you? Do you follow a schedule? Has your schedule helped you increase your productivity? What planner do you use?
**The planner above is called the PANDA PLANNER and I love it. I am thinking of trying the PASSION PLANNER next just to make sure I’m not missing out on something that works better for me, but have another PANDA PLANNER ready to go just in case.