Getting It Done: Setting
Malandrinos- All Rights
It’s that time of year again. The girls are
getting ready to head back to school and I eagerly
anticipate dedicating more time to my writing. I
could easily become overwhelmed with all I want to
do. But I won’t.
Why? Because I’m going to set my
How do you set priorities? Where do you get
started? And how will setting priorities make you
more productive? Let’s find out.
The To-do List
It all starts here. You can’t possibly set
priorities without knowing what you have on your
plate. Now is the perfect time to update your to-do
list or to start one.
Write down everything you have to accomplish
this week, no matter how small.
Sorting through the
Once you have your list written out, you
need to consider how to rearrange it so that you can
meet your deadlines and goals.
An easy way to set priorities is from the
deadlines provided by your clients. Projects with the
closest due date are a top priority versus projects
that are weeks out.
Keep in mind, however, that existing clients
may take precedence over new
Why? A repeat client is valuable and you
should do your best to meet his requirements. On the
flip side, when you’re dealing with a new client
you’ll risk losing future business if you don’t
complete the work on time. Also, is everything on
your list a paying project or are any of them
pro-bono? I haven’t met many writers who don’t
provide a free article or two for a worthy cause, but
your paying clients come first or you won’t be seeing
repeat business. Be mindful of everything you have to
do and don’t over commit.
If you have a book contract, then you’ll use
that deadline to judge what you need to accomplish on
a weekly basis. In the absence of a contract, decide
how much time you’ll dedicate to any or all works in
progress this week. The important thing to remember
is that combining S.M.A.R.T. goals with setting
priorities will likely get you to the finish line a
lot faster than flying by the seat of your
An essential consideration when setting
priorities is the impact a to-do item will have on
your future. Is this a one-time project or could this
project mean bigger and better things for your
writing career down the road? How important this is
to your career will determine whether it’s high or
Recurring items – Use the same date
In the case of a task appearing regularly on
your schedule, choose a day of the week or the same
date each month to tackle it. That way it becomes
part of your regular schedule and is easy to
Make sure you include this on your daily
task list where applicable.
My List is Sorted. Now
You’ve considered deadlines, set S.M.A.R.T.
goals, and contemplated how each project might impact
the future; now, go through your entire list and mark
these to-do items 1 through 4 (or end) from the
highest priority (1) to the lowest (4). Then begin
working on items you’ve deemed highest priority and
work down, crossing them off the list as you complete
them to give you a feeling of
Setting priorities is an important step
toward increased productivity. When coupled with
setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and learning to say "no" to
over commitment, you’re that much closer to a
successful writing career.