Now that we are in July, the year is halfway finished. Did you set some goals for this year? Are you halfway finished with them yet? Is it time to speed things up, or have you already done the majority of the work? Is that book that you promised a 2012 release date for finished?
Craig Jarrow, the Time Management Ninja, posted a great reminder about this last week. We talk to many authors who set yearly goals, and most of them don’t meet them on time. Assess yourself now and commit to finishing your book. Here are some tips especially for authors.
- Use Your Outline. You should have a detailed outline of where your book is headed already. Use it to create deadlines for each section of your book, and stick to it. Hint: Don’t assume that you need to work on your outline in the same order of your book. Start with the chapters you are most passionate about to help build your momentum and push through to the end.
- Set Shorter Deadlines. And write them down. It’s great to have a deadline for the end of 2012. But that is a really long timeline and you need to set shorter deadlines along the way. As effective as it is to have written yearly goals, it is much more effective to have written daily goals. See your book in smaller chunks and not as an overwhelming project, and you will get more done. Use the Pomodoro technique to work through your daily goals quickly.
- Stop It. Using Facebook too often, tweeting too much, watching too much television? Stop it. Don’t waste your time on things that don’t matter. Enjoy your life and take plenty of time for leisure, but don’t overdo it. If you find yourself wasting too much time, go on a social media or television fast for a week. You will be surprised at how one week can help you readjust your habits effectively. You can use ManicTime to track your computer time if you aren’t sure how much you are actually on Facebook.
- Work Faster. Creative work can take a lot out of you, but push yourself to work faster, think harder, and write better. Get as many words down on paper as fast as you can and edit (and re-edit, and re-edit, and re-edit) later.
- Use Your Creative Clock. We all have internal rhythms that can help us accomplish more throughout the day. Know yourself and what your rhythms are and you will be able to write more effectively. For me, the best time of day for me to do creative work is 7AM to 11AM. For others I know, there best time starts at 1AM. Figure out your creative clock and use it rather than fight against it.
- Shhhhh. If you missed the post last week on talents for authors, be sure to catch up on it. One other secret of building talent and of pushing towards a deadline is as simple as it gets – keep it secret for as long as you can. It may seem counterintuitive, but research shows that you are more likely to accomplish your goals if they are secret. The reason? It turns out that we get some satisfaction from just talking about accomplishing our goals. In fact, the feeling we get from talking about it is almost the same as actually reaching our goals. Make it harder on yourself to get that satisfaction and push through towards your real goals.