Our guest post today comes from author Brenda Novak. She discusses how she handles her busy world including writing books, but her comments and tips are really applicable to many us that have to much to do with so little time. As a book lover, time management is important if we want to actually have time to read and enjoy our books. As usual with our guest posts, we may insert a couple of comments. Take it away Brenda…
I write three books and one novella each year. I am raising five kids. I often travel and speak. And I run a major fundraiser–an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at brendanovak.com—which is like having a second job. Sometimes, I feel pretty overwhelmed. There’s always somuch to do! Which brings up issues of time management. This is something I struggle with on a daily basis. Why? Because one thing I don’t plan into my day is time to relax and just “hang,” and that’s so important to relationships. Just being available to people is a great way to build stronger ties, but being available requires flexibility which is difficult for me and other workaholics to manage. If my kids want to go somewhere or create something, I can put it on the calendar and make it happen. But what about those times when certain subjects wouldn’t come up if you weren’t just puttering around the housetogether, cooking or cleaning or shooting the breeze? My weakness in this area is why I don’t consider myself an expert on this subject. I think I’m great at getting stuff done. People ask me all the time, “How do you do it all?” But time management shouldn’t be about accomplishing the most in the least amount of time. It should be about balance, about nurturing those around us while we accomplish a reasonable amount.
So now that you know my greatest weakness (I’ve actually had to set goals to stop what I’m doing and let the rest go until tomorrow—LOL), I’ll tell you how I manage my workload. First of all, I do it by taking care of myself. Sometimes the hour I take out of my day for exercise seems like awaste. There are so many other things I want to do with that time. But I remind myself that if I’m healthy and have energy, I will be able to accomplish more in less time. And it’s true. If I get enough rest and exercise, I feel strong and capable, and it makes a big difference in my daily output.
Another sure-fire trick is to prioritize what must be done each day and to do the most important things first. That may sound like a no-brainer, and yet it’s so easy to get diverted. If exercising every day is your goal, do it first thing in the morning. But if it’s more important for you to write ten pages a day, start with that instead. That way, when the unexpected intrudes as the hours progress, and the day begins to get away from you, you’ll still accomplish those things that are most important to you.
Keeping myself on an even emotional keel is another thing that really increases my productivity. This isn’t always easy, of course. Problems crop up, sorrows intrude, accidents happen. But developing some type of inner peace helps you withstand the emotional buffeting that goes along with the bumps of life. Some people use meditation. Others read an inspiring story. Still others keep a gratitude journal. All of these are great techniques. I simply close my eyes, take a deep breath, and think of God saying to me, “Be still and know that I am God.” This usually brings me right back to my center, and if it doesn’t, I begin counting my blessings—taking a look at what I’ve got instead of what I don’t have.
And who doesn’t like killing two birds with one stone? I print out pages from my current WIP and edit while I ride my Exercycle. I listen to research programs on True Crime TV while I clean house. I read my latest manuscript to my husband whenever he has to drive somewhere for work. And probably the best thing I’ve done to date: I’ve hired an assistant. I thought this was something I shouldn’t allow myself—being raised by a frugal mother I felt as if I couldn’t justify such a luxury—but I’ve been able to extend my reach on so many fronts, thanks to this decision.
How do you increase your productivity? Do you agree that time management is more about balance than it is about working every minute? How do you make yourself take time out?
NewYork Times & USA Today BestsellingAuthor Brenda Novak is the author of forty books, a mixture of Super romances for Harlequin and romantic suspense novels for MIRA. A three-time Rita nominee, she has won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, theBookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, the Holt Medallion andmany others. She also runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes researchevery May at www.brendanovak.com or Brenda Novak’s Annual Auction for the Cure of Diabetes. To date, she’s raised over $1.3 million. Brenda has a brand new small-town contemporary series starting this year. Come meet the long-time friends who have made Whiskey Creek the “Heart of Gold Country,” with WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES, to be released in September. WHEN SUMMER COMES will be released in November and WHEN NIGHT FALLS will hit bookstores in February 2013.
Digital Book Today: Book lovers should check out her auction site. There are many great auction items with a real emphasis on items from authors from all genres.