Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Time Management with Terri Main

I'd like to share some useful information about time management which Terri Main, author and writing instructor, has put together.

Here are some basics of time management in short:

1. Start with your priorities. When you make the list of things to do
during the day/week/month prioritize them by their importance to you. No
one can tell you what your priorities are or what they should be. But
don't make it a high priority simply because it is urgent. Just because
it must be done soon or it won't get done, doesn't mean it HAS to get done.

2. Use the minutes. I wrote the first draft of a novel during Nanowrimo
using just fifteen minute segments I found during the day. If I had to
sit for an hour or two straight through, I couldn't have done it.
Multitask. For instance, I write while waiting on people in the car
using my netbook, or I c heck email which means I don't have to do it at

3. Email magic: Don't read everything in every list you subscribe to.
Scan the titles and only read what looks interesting or useful. Use
filters/rules to sort it automatically. I have a folder for Muse
Authors, MuseBusiness, Fellowship of Christian Writers, Lost Genre
Guild, School, Students and others.

4. Delegate whenever possible. I'm fortunate to have the resources to
pay someone to do the gardening. That saves me time. I take my car to
the car wash. Five minutes through the car wash saves me a half hour to
an hour doing it myself. Also when I cook, I make extra and freeze it
(freeze it while hot, that keeps in the flavor). Then during the busy
times, I just pull it out of the freezer and pop it in the microwave.
During the five minutes it's cooking I can write or check email or grade
a couple of papers. I'm also getting anything delivered that I can. I am
buying meat and other food from Schwanns and Omaha Steaks. When I do
shop I get enough to go on the shelves so if I'm busy on a project, I
don't have to rush out to get food. If you are not that tech savvy why
spend a lot of time building a web site when you can probably get a
college kid to do it for you. Find templates of press releases and adapt
them for your own use.

5. Work during commercials. If you have a TV show you actually want to
watch, you can hit mute during the commercials and write. There's about
20 minutes of commercial per hour of network TV more on cable.

6. What can you cut out of your schedule. No you can't do it all. But do
you need to. Track your time in 15 minute increments throughout the day
for a week. Mark the things that are absolutely necessary: Work, School,
eating, bathing, etc. Then mark the highly important tings, but not
necessary like family activities, club, career advancement, etc. Then
those things that are important, but you could reduce involvement in.
then those things that are just so-so and could be eliminated easily.

7. Focus, Focus, Focus. Too many people try to do too many things while
they write. When you sit down to write- write. Don't have snacks or
drinks handy. Don't smoke. Don't watch TV. Just write. Let's just take
something simple like having a soda by the chair. If you sip that soda,
you will lose about 5-7 minutes of writing time. Over a month that could
be 2-3 hours or 25-30 hours during a year. If you add a bowl of chips
and a smoke (which is a nasty habit anyway) you can be killing 1/3 of
your writing/editing/ promotion time.

Finally, don't beat yourself up that you don't do it all. No one can.
You will have to cut one thing for another. And be sure that what you do
is based on your own assessment of your own situation and not on some
assumption you make from what others say. And rest. You know working in
three 20 minute segments is more productive than working an hour
straight through. Why? Because after about 20 minutes or so, you start
to tire and your productivity wanes. If you work for short periods and
then rest, you will do better. Whenever possible, this is the best way
to do just about anything. But even if you can't do that, get enough
rest so that you will work at peak performance.

Great tips.  Thanks, Terri!


  1. Hi Penny,
    Thanks for interviewing Jim. It's interesting to read about the processes of other writers, especially those who write in othr genres. I write for children and teens, myself.
    See you at the Muse.

  2. Barbara, thanks for stopping by. I think you meant to leave this comment for Jim Hartley.

  3. GREAT tips! This was a very informative post on time management. I DVR shows I like to watch so that I can fast forward through the commercials,spending less time with the TV. I've also gotten very selective about what I DVR. TV can be too time consuming and distracting, taking away from the time I should be using for writing.

  4. Susanne, thanks for sharing your tip and for stopping by to comment.

  5. Haha. So funny you mentioned 'work during commercials'. I do that all the time. There are so many commercials, I wouldn't watch TV if I wasn't reading or brushing my teeth or cleaning up while they were on. Good suggestion. I'm glad to know others do that, too.

  6. Worddreams, thanks for stopping and leaving a comment. It always feels good to know we're not alone in the little things we do to get our writing done.