Are you vowing to better manage your time and stress in 2016? This post is for you.
BLOGGER: BEN WOLF
Publisher, Splickety Magazine, Splickety Love, Havock
Teaching an Afternoon Workshop, Reviewing Pre-Conference Manuscripts and meeting with writers at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22.
10 STEPS TO BETTER TIME AND STRESS MANAGEMENT FOR AUTHORS
Walk the dog. Take out the trash. Make dinner. Get the kids to their activities. Volunteer at church. Work your day job. Spend time with your spouse.
Oh, and somewhere in there, you need to write, too.
So how do you make it happen? How do you carve out time amidst all the stress of your life to write?
Short answer: have a plan, and stick to it.
I created a 10-step process to get me from being stressed to being productive—ultra-productive—with my writing. I’m going to share it with you today with the hope that you can make use of at least some of them.
Before you jump into the process, you have to determine when you’re going to try to do it. Make sure you set aside time–at least an hour, if possible.
With your time set aside, you can dedicate yourself to following these steps and get your butt in the chair to write. So, once you’ve set the time aside, the first thing you do is…
- Freak Out.
No, I’m not kidding. One of the best ways to deal with excess stress is to vent it. Scream in a pillow, or pound it. Whoop and holler. As long as you’re not harming yourself or being destructive, this is an important step to follow.
Once you’ve done that…
- Take a Breath.
You have successfully freaked out. Congrats.
Now regain your equilibrium—if you can’t get back to a nice, balanced point, you can’t advance beyond that level to a proactive, productive point, and you certainly won’t get to the ultra-productive point where your stress actually becomes your fuel (more on that later).
So, take that breath (or two…or three…or seventeen) and center yourself. Then…
God WILL help you. He’s faithful. Jesus said not to worry about what you will eat, drink, wear, where you’ll live, and so on. He said don’t worry about tomorrow because today has enough worries on its own (see Matthew 6:25-34).
Besides…when is prayer NOT a good idea? This segues into our next one…
Put off ’til tomorrow what you can do today.
I prioritize in two ways: I do the projects that need to be done first (to make sure I’m not late), and then, if I’ve somehow managed to not procrastinate, I do the hardest project first.
The opposite can work well also. The momentum you get from finishing small projects can inspire you to dive head-on into the big ones and take them down. But suppose you need a bit of extra inspiration while you’re working. You could…
I’m not talking about booze or drugs or even caffeine (at least not necessarily). I’m saying find something that motivates you to get started. Something that gets you writing (or working on whatever you need to accomplish).
Maybe get yourself a snack, or your favorite beverage, or both, and chow down on them. And while you’re at it…
- Get comfy.
Ideally, you’re going to be in that spot awhile writing, so you might as well enjoy your stay. Round up pillows and blankets, find a comfy chair, etc. Just don’t take too much time with this step—you still have work to do.
The crucial part of this step is to physically set yourself up to succeed. Be sure to cut out distractions, create an environment that fosters creativity, and start working. Once your writing realm is established…
- Jump in headfirst.
You just have to do it. Abandon your reason, your worries, and your fears. Go for it, and go for it hard, because the sooner it’s done, the sooner it’s done. Once you’re in the zone…
- Make the stress become your fuel.
Remember how I mentioned that you could become ultra-productive? This is how you do it: find a way to channel the anxiety and stress of your deadline into your energy reserve OR ignore that external stress entirely.
Those are your two options. If thinking of your stress empowers you to work harder, use it to spur you on. If, on the other hand, that stress tends to cripple you, then push it out entirely and set your sights on only one thing: that manuscript.
In either case, you’ll find yourself being ultra-productive because you’veyou’re yourself up for success (Steps 1 through 7) and now you’ve dealt with your stress the right way for you personally. Once you’ve been ultra-productive for awhile…
- Finish strong.
Write that last chapter with zeal. Type that concluding paragraph with gusto. Compose those final song lyrics and notes with fire shooting from your fingertips.
In other words, don’t tank at the end. Why give yourself something to stress out about tomorrow if you can help it? The point here is to finish if you’re close. Power through to the end if you can. If not, don’t sweat it, and when you’re done…
- Make a break for it.
Regardless of whether you’ve got more to do or if you finished, take a break. During this break, your task is simple: celebrate.
You’ve got to expend your extra energy somehow. Sometimes it’s through celebration, other times it’s through relaxation. Depends on your mood.
Those are the 10 Steps. But sometimes you may find that those steps aren’t enough. In that case, I recommend that you venture outside the 10 Ssteps to something I like to call…
Step 0: Delegate.
You don’t have to do everything. You have lots of choices in life. Someone else can dot he dishes every now and then. Hire a service to mow your lawn. Have the kids or your spouse vacuum the living room carpet or take out the trash.
Yes, everyone’s circumstance is different, but if this is your career choice and not just a hobby, isn’t it worth investing a bit of money and/or energy in carving out more time in your busy schedule to write?
If you can delegate something—anything—to someone you trust, then do it. It will give you freedom to do the other things you need to do, which means more efficiency and less stress.
If delegation and the ten steps still aren’t enough, it may be time to cut something out of your life. Our time on this planet is limited. Use the principles in Step 4 and figure out if something’s got to go.
There you have it. What are you waiting for? Start these 10 Steps today and get writing!
Come meet Ben Wolf at the 43rd annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, 2016.
Click here to Register!