Wow, what a weekend! Somehow, and completely out of nowhere, I had a huge rise in book sales on Kindle and I’ve no idea how it happened. I hadn’t posted anything in particular on Social Media, I hadn’t been tagged in anything, and there was no promotion event. It just happened. Whatever, or whoever it was, I’m very grateful and also excited that lots of people will be reading ‘Bringing Billie Back’. Thank you to everyone that’s supported me with my writing, it means so much every time I see a single sale.
It also spurs me on to keep writing as much as I can, and in any spare minute I have. Although I’m primarily concentrating on the first draft of my 3rd novel (which will hopefully be out in the summer, a sequel to ‘Friendship, Love and Apple Tea’), I hope to release my first non-fiction book later this year. I know! And this blog post is a bit of an introduction to it.
So…it’s a self-help/self-development type project, relating to organisation and time management skills, but with a twist. It will be light-hearted (I have no comprehension of how to be serious) and full of tips and tricks that work for me when I’m getting a bit overwhelmed with things to do. I’m a bit nervous, as it will be my first non-fiction book, but I’m hoping my background as a training consultant will steer me a little as I’ve spent the last fifteen years or so creating manuals and handouts, and I’m hoping some of these skills will help me out a bit.
Delivering and facilitating time management courses to a wide range of organisations over time has taught me that we all share similar experiences of how easily our precious time is stolen throughout each day by people and, well, ‘things’. Mine is pinched on a daily basis and it’s not always possible to stop that from happening, or, actually even wanting to. For example, if I sit down to write in the evening and, five minutes later, hear ‘Mum!’ being shouted from upstairs, I don’t resent that type of ‘time pinching’ – our daughter can have whatever time I can give her. But, what is important is that we protect our time, identify who and what pinches it, and put a plan in place should we need to.
Planning is absolutely crucial for me, both as a writer and in my personal life, when things get busy and full on. I find that if tasks are building up, and time is limited, my best solution is to write/type a ‘To Do List’ and this tactic has saved me every time. This is whether its for short term tasks or long term goals and objectives. It forces me to prioritise which of the tasks are urgent, nice to do’s or, actually, not necessary at all, and I get things done much more quickly if I’ve my list to work through. My lists can be paper based and written (I’m a stationery lover, and there are some great resources you can buy, or, it can be scribbled on an old envelope). The list could be electronic, such as typed up on an Excel spreadsheet or on a phone app with a reminder).
As a writer, I use a slightly different type of list as planning is absolutely key. From planning the storyline and how the characters behave to how I’m going to get from a first draft to finished novel. The more I plan, the less stressful the journey is for me, and I’m slowly getting better at it. I use the tools within Scrivener, a great piece of software for writers, and this means I can keep everything together in one project file.
To prove the benefit of lists I always ask my learners, on a training course, which day it is in the workplace when we work most effectively? And the actual answer is, the day before we go on holiday. It’s because we know we’re going to be away for a week or two and so we have to make sure everything is completed, prepared, communicated etc as we won’t be there to sort it. So, we can make a list and work through it at a hundred miles an hour, feeling very satisfied as we tick things off, and then breathe a sigh of relief as we leg it out of the door and fly off on our hols.
I don’t make lists every day, or put everything on it, but I will do if it’s important and there’s a chance I might forget to do it. Or, which is more likely, I’m likely to procrastinate and keep putting it off, particularly if it’s a task I don’t want to do, such as contact someone with a complaint.
So, here’s an example of the tasks on my two ‘To Do’ lists for today:
- Create blog post for today’s release (not yet ticked off but it will be once I’ve finished typing this…)
- Re-read three more chapters of ‘Friendship, Love and Apple Tea’ as research (as I’ve forgotten quite a lot of it and I need it for planning the third novel.)
- Reply to Facebook comments from readers
- Reply to Twitter comments from readers
- Post out 3 copies of ‘Bringing Billie Back’
- De-flea Puglet (done, first thing this morning. He saw me get the Frontline pipette from the cupboard and tried to escape. But, I won, and the nits and fleas are leaving the building as I type.)
- Shave husband’s hair (done, took about 5 minutes, and I’m glad I didn’t get the two tasks mixed up)
Right, best get on and do the things on my writing list… Have a great Sunday everyone, and enjoy the sunshine today if you’re lucky enough to see it. Bright skies here this morning, yay!