time saving tips

4 Time Management Strategies for Writers, Artists and Creatives

By Elaine Calloway

Ah, time management—that elusive thing we attempt to harness but somehow it eludes us. Like a butterfly refusing to be caught in the net, time escapes from us at a rapid rate. When we do finally take a breath and glance at the clock, we think, “Where did all the time go? How can the day be almost over when I haven’t gotten much done?”

I’ve said these things plenty of times. And I’ve beaten myself up and sworn I would never get on social media first thing in the morning again. And guess what? Some days, I still do. But I’m getting better.

Below are some tips to let time work FOR you, rather than against you.

1.     Determine your “Best Self” time.
Figure out when your brain is at its most alert, least stressed and ready to work. For some people, it’s first thing in the morning before the day’s chaos pushes its way into our minds. For others, it’s late at night when everyone else has gone to sleep.
Determine your best time and then GUARD it with everything you have. If you’re more refreshed in the morning, get up an hour earlier to tackle your goals. If you’re a night owl, let the kids listen to a children’s story audiobook an hour before their bedtime, and then use that hour to get a jumpstart on your plans.
Do the essential chores during a time when you are not at your mental peak. Laundry, dishes, cooking, etc. actually allows your creative brain to think, which helps you when you do sit down at your most productive time.

2.     Postpone Social Media.
For your prime creative time, stay off social media. I know, this one is a struggle. It’s so easy to just grab that morning cup of Java and click the button to check email, read through some funnies on Facebook, check Twitter, etc.
Here’s the thing I’ve learned, though. Doing what seems like a relaxing task actually isn’t relaxing. The information (even the cute kitten photos on Facebook) gets into your brain and leaves less room for your most creative self to flourish.
There’s a fantastic book I’m reading called Your Brain at Work by David Rock. One thing he mentions is that the creative space in our brain, the prefrontal cortex, fills up quickly. He compares the amount of brainpower able to handle creativity to a performance stage. Once you have the social media, the worries of the day, the thoughts about what to fix for breakfast, etc. creeping onto the stage, then there is less room for your book, painting, or other endeavor.
We need to remember that the stage is a finite space, and we must choose who has the right to be onstage at any given moment. The author, David Rock, gives great recommendations on how we must manage our “stage” every day in order to be most efficient.
So remember: Social media is a great outlet, but only AFTER you finish your creative tasks.

3.     Keep a Notebook for Distractive Thoughts.
Our brains know how to distract us, to keep us from achieving our goals. We must manage our thoughts to be able to be our most effective. Keeping a notebook handy is ideal for this.
Whenever I sit down to continue writing one of my books, the inevitable happens: I get ideas for other books. This is a common procrastination technique, but I’ve learned how to tackle it and keep working. By keeping a notebook nearby, I jot down the idea that won’t let go, and then I immediately get back to work.
Jotting down the distractive idea does two things. First, it gets the pesky thought out of our heads and onto paper so we can continue working. Second, it gets the thought off our “stage” so we are free to choose what other work to put on our stage as we move toward our goal (be it painting, writing, photography, etc.)

Managing Your Time

4.     Use the Pomodoro Technique.
I love how popular this technique, and the phone apps for it, has become. Years ago, the most prolific writers recommended using an egg timer to time several writing sessions of 20-40 minutes. The Pomodoro has taken this a step further.

So, what’s the Pomodoro Technique?
It’s basically a timer that allows you to work in short increments, taking a break between sessions. Our brains are able to focus and work more productively because we know the task time limit will be short.

  • First, set the Pomodoro timer for 25 minutes.
  • Work exclusively on your task until the timer rings.
  • Take a 5-minute break and stretch.
  • Set the Pomodoro for another 25 minutes, followed by another 5-minute break.
  • After 4 Pomodoro sessions (2 hours), take a longer break for 20-30 minutes.
  • Repeat as desired.

You can download apps for the Pomodoro online or for your phone. I use Clockwork Tomato for Android, which is a free app. Browse the Google Play store here.

Using these 4 strategies for time management will help you stay focused and get more creative tasks done. Building a habit takes 30 days, and practicing these techniques will help you form good habits for time management.

Soon, you’ll be able to hold that elusive butterfly of time management in your hand. And the world will thank you for the creative gifts you have to offer!

Elaine Calloway is an Amazon bestselling author of paranormal fiction/ghost stories and a speaker on self-publishing and how to become a successful author. She has several online courses available for authors: The Writer’s Bootcamp – Your Complete Guide to Writing Your Book in 30 Days, and Marketing for Authors / How to Gain More Readers. When she’s not teaching self-publishing, writing or sleeping, she enjoys hanging out with friends and family and her very spoiled black-lab mix. Connect with her online at www.howtoselfpublishyournovel.com or www.elainecalloway.com.

 

 

The Time Management Survival Guide For Busy Woman

By Sharon Freedman

You’ve finally made it! You’ve worked your butt off to get to this point and now it feels like everyone and I mean everyone is counting on you. The worst part is that now you seem to have NO TIME to enjoy any of it ‘cuz you’re so franticly trying to keep a billion and a half balls in the air. You’ve tried just about every organizing technique ever created and often beat yourself up for not fitting in that relaxing cup of hot coffee right after your 20 minute morning meditation and yoga practice followed by a productive and fulfilling day with your hair, makeup, and outfit looking chic and finishing the day with a delicious and healthy dinner and quality time spent with your loving partner. Ah, to be a woman that only exists in the movies.

Don’t worry, there is hope... and lots of it.

The secret is that Time isn’t a thing to be managed. WTF?!? I know, right.

Time is just a form of measurement and those pesky clocks just keep ticking no matter how much we try to control them. Our relationship with it is what we have control over. If you’re on the edge of throwing a mini-tantrum I totally get it. As a fellow passionately multi-hyphenate who desperately wants to feel in control of some part of her life it took me a bit of kicking and screaming to come around to be willing to try a new approach since my current one left me exhausted and frustrated. So without further adieu here are three (not time consuming and hugely effective) ways to change your relationship with time.

 1.    RADICAL ACCEPTANCE
Radical acceptance is accepting life on life’s terms. You know those weeks when you map out exactly what you’re going to get done over the next couple of days and then your car breaks down or your son gets sick or your basement floods and there go all of your plans there are a few paths you could walk down in this moment.

•  You could flip out about how much time and money you’re going to lose and that it’s not fair that this had to happen now.
•  You could accept that this is what’s happening right now, it won’t last forever, and that your ship will right itself when this storm passes.

Then, grabbing a post it note (it’s that size on purpose) and making your To-Do List of 1 thing that would make you so happy to get done would be the way to go. Everything else you may get done is gravy.

2.    THE POWER OF “NO”
Believe it or not people often respect someone who says “no” maybe even more than they do the person who says “yes” to EVERYTHING. It is not your job to do everyone else’s job. The key is to say “no” gracefully and authentically. Here’s how:

•  Empathetically acknowledge the person who is asking for your time and attention. i.e. “I could see how that would be really stressful” or “It makes sense that you’re really having a hard time with this.”
•  Be honest. i.e. “I wish I could give your situation the full attention that you and it deserve but I can’t right now.” or “Thank you for thinking of me but I, also, have a ton on my plate and wouldn’t be able to do my best work if I took on another project.”

 Short. Sweet. To the Point. Even if the person gets all snarky in the moment it’s not like they’re going to hate you forever this person already values your and your your opinions and abilities... and if they do who needs ‘em.       

 3.    CELEBRATION
Since you’re the type of gal who’s got her eye on the prize you may be whizzing past all of your wins along the way. That is NOT OK, Sister. Focusing on the process as opposed to focusing on the prize just may get you where you want to go faster, or at least getting there will probably be a lot more fun, and you deserve that.

 Make a three part celebration list.

•  Level 1: (I completed that thing that’s been weighing on me)
•  Living room dance party, happy hour with your best girl friend, and extra 30 mins of Netflix, a beautiful hike etc.
•  Level 2: (That was a ton of work and I did that s@#* like a champ)
•  That bag you’ve been eyeing, a new tech toy, a spa day, an impromptu three day weekend.
•  Level 3: (OMG! It really happened. I’m freaking out I’m so excited.)
•  That trip you’ve been hoping to take at some point, upgraded kitchen appliances, a new car.

Now you have to make it part of your routine (like every morning in the shower or when you brush your teeth at night) to acknowledge how cool you are then celebrate.

Maybe, you’ve only remembered to meditate once in the past two and a half months, you’ve been wearing the same shirt for three days, and you’ve ordered Thai every night this week. As long as you’re practicing accepting the fact that your life is rolling that way at the moment, releasing the fear of what everyone else thinks about you, and celebrating the victories that have gotten you to this moment you’re leaps and bounds ahead of most people on the planet.

If you have additional ideas of how to change your relationship with time and things that have worked for you in the past share the wealth with your fellow wildly busy female friends in the comments below.

Sharon Freedman has been a professional actor and voiceover artist for over 15 years and trained at The Coaches Training Institute with a desire to be more of service. A few years back she looked death in the eye and found that mindfulness and other evidence based therapeutic methods like DBT saved her life which inspired her to create her coaching practice Stress Reduction Joy Production.  She owns being a work in progress and practices bringing as much fun, creativity, and authenticity to the world as she can. Join us on FB at: https://www.facebook.com/stressreductionjoyproduction/

5 Essential Time Saving Tips For Bloggers

Time-Saving-Tips

By Chloe Thea

When it comes to blogging, the list of things that ‘take time’ is truly, honestly endless. Whether you’re a newbie to the blog scene or a larger–than-life juggernaut like Miss Marie Forleo, there is certainly no denying it - running a blog takes a hell of a lot of work, perseverance, time and energy on your behalf. But it’s not all bad. I want to help you to claim back some of your blogging time – so you can shimmy on into your blogging journey with ease, grace and a nice rounded dollop of renewed ‘I’ve got this!’ enthusiasm.  

Don’t let time management get in the way of running a successful blog - here are 5 super-practical time management tips for bloggers. 

1) The Regular Feature
One of the best time hacks for bloggers is hosting a regular ‘feature’ on your blog – for example, you might host a link roundup post each Wednesday. Not only does this strategy help to build reader loyalty – but it saves you time because you’re not scrambling for content ideas. You could take this time saving hack one step further and prepare these features in bulk – next time you’re writing a link round up, spend an extra hour or two researching and bang out 3 other versions of that post type. 

2) Get Yourself A FAQ Page
Are you getting a tsunami of emails flooding into your inbox everyday with similarly sounding questions? Yep, I hear you. Spend some time and make a list of all the questions you get asked frequently, and put the answers on a dedicated FAQ page on your blog. Yes, this isn’t the most innovative idea, but don’t discount it based on simplicity alone - it works. For bonus points, make sure your auto-responder email points to your brand- spanking FAQ page for maximum timesaving effectiveness. 

3) Set Yourself Some Boundaries 
Now that you’ve got your FAQ page set up, it’s time to update the copy on your Contact Me page. Putting a short, sweet, sincere disclaimer about approximate response times sets clear expectations for your readers about how long you take, (if at all) to respond to reader emails. 

At first, this idea can sound a little stand-offish, but tweak the language, fill it with love and your readers will thank you for the soul-fuelled posts you’re able to create now you’re no longer replying to individual emails. 

4) Ask The Audience 
Tired of coming up with Pulitzer-winning ideas for blog posts? Why not take some post requests from your readers! After all, they’re the ones who are reading, consuming and hopefully, loving your content, so why not find out what they’d like to read? It’s a win-win. You get to serve up juicy, anticipated content and your audience can indulge in topics they’re super interested in. 

5) All Hail The Automation Angels
I’m always on the lookout for ways to make things easy for myself and when it comes to blogging, automation is a biggie - get ahead by scheduling your posts using Wordpress’ built-in scheduling tool. All you need to do is sit down one afternoon, hammer out 3 new posts, code them up in Wordpress and schedule them using the automated timer tool. Now that your post schedule is ahead, you’re able to free up your mind with other bloggy things – like how to better serve your beautiful readers (or reach a bigger audience with that all-too-incredible post you just wrote!).

What are your favourite time hacks as a blogger? Chloe Thea is a Holistic Time Management and Productivity Coach—passionate about helping big-hearted creatives become masters of their time and energy so they can shine bigger, brighter. Her blog, You Can Go Your Own Way, serves up practical and empowering time management tips. Her mission is to help creative women understand that sustainable productivity is deeply rooted in self-care. 

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