So what are you doing today?
It’s the question my husband asks me every morning as we’re getting up, having coffee and beginning to think about the day ahead. Usually, I’ve got a list of things I need to get done—I’m a strong believer in To Do lists.
I keep a weekly To Do list in my written calendar (yeah, I’ve still got one of those weekly spiral bound things) and a “This is really important and must get done!” To Do list on my phone (which will ping at me and remind me of when I really need to do that really important thing. And I’ve got a daily To Do list back in my written calendar, which I fill in or add to each day to make sure I don’t forget what it is I’m supposed to be doing.
So, it’s easy. When my husband asks, I’ve got a ready answer. I just look through my calendar and my phone app and see what I’ve got to do.
But how do I prioritize? How do I know what I need to do first and exactly how many games of solitaire can I fit in between each thing I’ve got to do or each break I take (and there are many—too many?) as I’m working through my tasks?
I have to say, I honestly never thought about this before I read a wonderful blog post from Kristen Lamb. I love her blog posts. She’s extremely funny and frequently reminds me of things I should remember, or teaches me something I hadn’t thought of before.
Strangely enough, while I found her post on prioritizing very funny and filled with deep wisdom (“I don’t spend vast amounts of time gazing into my navel searching for the Lint of Truth… especially since everyone knows the dryer hoards the Lint of Truth (left by socks who’ve achieved enlightenment and thus shed corporeal form).”) it didn’t actually give me any hints as to how to prioritize! Nor did it tell me anything about she does it. Actually, her main point seems to be “Point is, when everything is a priority, then nothing is.”
But that doesn’t really help, now, does it?
So how does one prioritize? When you’ve got a list of stuff to do, how do you know what should get done first?
When you are faced with a novel to write, marketing to do so your previous books continue to sell, social media you’ve got to keep up with so your readers know that you’re still alive, the last book you wrote to edit/format/publish… oh, and let’s not forget the day job, the kids, and what? You want dinner?? Really??? Well gosh darn it, you know where the fridge is! Oh, okay… grumble, grumble.
It’s not that everything is a priority so much as that there is too much of everything that needs to get done.
So where do you begin?
Me? I start with what has a deadline or some external person waiting for whatever it is.
My editor is waiting for me to finish editing my book and I’ve got a formatting client waiting for me to format her book so she can publish it. Which do I do first? Well, the formatting will take a shorter time and has a more immediate deadline. I tackle that one first.
I know that I’ve got to get my marketing done so, instead of playing that second game of solitaire on my break in between formatting and editing, I’ll pop over to Amazon and set up an ad (they actually take very little time to set up once you’ve got your list of keywords and a tag line already written) or I’ll buy a spot in a newsletter. On my next break, I’ll go to Facebook and post something pithy there—or “share” something that someone else posted. 😊 The key there is to keep the scrolling through other people’s posts to a minimum (really! Set a timer!!)
By doing all the little chores in between the bigger tasks, I get a break from those that could overwhelm and I manage to get everything done (along with possibly too many games of solitaire).
Yes, everything is important, but somethings are still more important others. Deadlines. People waiting on your work. Those are more important.
But just as important—because you will have it always scheduled into your day—is your own writing. Don’t forget that. Everything else works around that.
Prioritizing isn’t so difficult, it just takes a bit thought.
So, what are you doing today?