Are You a Busy Bee? – Turning Busy Time into Productive Time

 

 

© Cheryl C. Malandrinos
- All Rights Reserved.
 

 

 

 

 

You know the busy bee.  No matter what day you ask, she’s busy.  If you ask how she’s doing, she’ll provide you a laundry list of things left undone that she’s working on. 

  

Problem is, next week her laundry list will probably be the same…or worse.   

 

Why?  Because she’s busy, not productive. 

 

Just because we have a lot to accomplish, doesn’t mean we are approaching our to-do list in a productive manner.  In order to be productive, you have to make progress.  Busy bees don’t.  They spin their wheels, digging deeply into the same ruts until they feel so overwhelmed they procrastinate.  

 

How can you stop the busy bee syndrome?  Here are some great ways to get you started. 

 

 

Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals 

 

Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is the first step toward turning busy time into productive time.  S.M.A.R.T. goals are ones that are:  specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  For more information on setting S.M.A.R.T. goals read this article.

 

 

The reason goal setting is so important to productivity is that we need to focus on what we need to accomplish.  Without a plan, you’re like a driver trying to maneuver a car without a steering wheel; you have no control over where the car is going and sooner or later you’re going to crash.  

 

 

Prioritize Your Goals 

 

Just like you wouldn’t put slacks on before your underwear, you shouldn’t try to attack your goals without prioritizing them first.   

 

Review your goals and consider which ones you need to work on first.  Some goals can be prioritized by deadline, but sometimes you have to consider if this is a new or repeat client and what the future impact might be on your career when setting your priorities.   

 

You’ll find more information about setting priorities here.

 

 

Write a To-do List 

 

Now you’re really getting somewhere.  You’ve set your goals and prioritized them.  Now you need to break them down into monthly or weekly to-do lists.   

 

I prefer weekly because even a monthly to-do list gives me too much to think about and my mind tends to wander.   

 

The importance of a to-do list cannot be stressed enough.  The first thing a to-do list does is give you a way to focus on smaller tasks so that the larger goal doesn’t seem so daunting.  A to-do list also allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment when you check off a completed item—which is a huge source of motivation.   

 

After using to-do lists for several weeks or months, you’ll also be able to better gauge how much you can truly accomplish during a specific time period.  While it might vary depending upon the size and complexity of the projects you are working on, it will still give you a good overall picture of whether your writing schedule is working.   

 

 

Create a Writing Schedule That Works for You 

 

Speaking of writing schedules, you need to create one that works best for you.  If you’re more productive in the morning, then that’s when you should be writing.  I’ve come to realize that my most productive hours are after 9PM; so I get the girls down to bed and begin working in earnest. 

 

For those who can’t write during their ideal time frame because of other commitments, use lunch hours and waiting time in doctors’ offices to increase productivity. 

 

 

Track Your Time 

 

Allowing distractions like email, the telephone, and the Internet to steal your writing time will leave you feeling overwhelmed when faced with a deadline.  Letting family and friends invade the time you’ve put aside for writing is also going to keep you busier than normal.  And on the reverse side, taking time dedicated to family and using it to catch up on writing projects can leave your family feeling resentful of your career. 

 

Take out a pen and pad and track your time for the next five days.  This will help identify exactly how much time is being spent on each task and where time is wasted.  Identifying what distractions and interruptions keep you from obtaining your goals, will help you eliminate them.   

 

In addition, keep a careful eye on how much time is spent working on projects where you just couldn’t say, “No”.  Volunteering in your community and taking on special assignments at work can often make you feel good; but if you commit to more than you can realistically handle, you’ll soon feel the pressure and begin to procrastinate.   

 

Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and prioritizing them, maintaining to-do lists, creating a writing schedule that works best for you, and tracking your time, will help you be productive rather than chronically busy. 

 

 

 

 

About the Author: Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelancer who specializes in helping writers increase productivity through time management and organization. She has also written articles on everyday life in the 1800’s, gardening, parenting, and women’s health issues. Cheryl is also a virtual book tour coordinator for Pump Up Your Book Promotion. You can find out more about Cheryl by visiting her website at http://ccmalandrinos.tripod.com/   

 

 

 

 

 

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Writer's Guide to Time Management