Recently I’ve been re-thinking how I manage my time, because I don’t manage it well. I was also going to write a couple of articles on time management* (which I may still do), when I remembered that I’ve blogged about this topic before. The post below is from my old blog, posted on October 20, 2008. I decided to run it again because the information is still relevant and could help me and maybe you manage your time better.
Time Management Tips from sruble of the past
When I registered for the SCBWI
LA conference** this year, I listed my occupation as “procrastination
exterminator,” in addition to writer and illustrator. At the time, it
was wishful thinking, and as evidenced by my behavior last week, I tend
to go off on tangents with projects that aren’t necessarily the ones I
should be working on. I don’t think I can ever completely curb my
tendency for tangential projects, and I wouldn’t want to (Sheila the zombie cheerleader
is another example). However, I need to be a little more focused in
getting the things I need to do done, so I can go off and play
Everyone has their own time management system. Here’s what’s worked
for me in the past and what’s new. Use the tips that might work for you,
and share your tips in the comments if you want.
15 minutes of fame: Each person reportedly gets (at
least) fifteen minutes of fame, the same should be true for your
procrastination projects. Set the timer for 15 minutes and dig into that
task you don’t want to do (even if it’s your WIP and you really do want
to write or draw that scene, but just don’t know how). When the timer
rings, hopefully you will be so engrossed in your project that you won’t
hear it, but if you’re not, you can always try again later. Set the
timer again the next time you work on it. Repeat until you’re done or
you don’t need the timer anymore. Works for chores as well as creative
endeavors … thanks mom.
Get a cheerleader: Your cheerleader can be anyone
that helps cheer you on and supports you with your goal. I have Sheila
the zombie cheerleader. If I do what she says, she won’t eat my brain.
She’s new to the cheering team. My husband, parents, and
writer/illustrator friends are part of the team too. Luckily they don’t
want to eat my brain, they just want me to use it to be creative and get
my work done.
Set goals: Set realistic goals so that you can
achieve them. If you’re a big goal setter like I am, write down the big
goals, then break them up into smaller steps and use those steps as
goals along the way to achieving something bigger. It’s a lot easier to
get things done when you know it’s possible, instead of having something
hanging over your head that’s hard to finish in a day or a week or a
Make a to do list: Write down what you can
realistically accomplish each day. Some days you might not finish it
all, and some days you might get done early. If you have lots of things
to do, make a big, huge list, then take a few of those items and put
them on a to do list, for today. Tomorrow you can take more things off
the big, huge, master list. Just like setting goals, your to do list
should be manageable, so you can feel a sense of accomplishment each
day. Plus, it’s really fun to cross things off the list.
Play: Sometimes you need to chuck the timer, the
goals and the lists, and completely ignore the cheerleader, who will be
confused as to why you have gone off on a tangent. Playing and following
your bliss is important. You have to do that once in a while to connect
with your creative side, and maybe you’ll even come up with a brilliant
new idea or character. Just make sure to get back to your timers,
goals, and lists when you’re done, otherwise you may never get anything
done. Besides, if you don’t get back on track, Sheila will find you and
eat your brain.
(2010 Update) Having fun can lead to other things: A year and a half after I wrote this post, Sheila the zombie cheerleader
is in the YA novel I’m writing. Not only that, but the mini comic about
Sheila that I wrote and illustrated last summer, launched a new
character for a picture book, Daria the chicken,
and I’m thinking of re-writing the mini comic as another story starring
Daria [Sheila won't be in it]. So far my chicken PB has been requested
by an editor, an art director, and an agent. It hasn’t sold yet and
might have a revision looming [I'm considering re-writing it as a
graphic novel chapter book], however, if I hadn’t painted a picture of a
zombie cheerleader, just for fun, I wouldn’t have either of these
characters or stories! Allow yourself to play – you never know what
How do you manage to manage your time and control your tangential projects?