My house is a disaster.
We’ve moved furniture around to make room for holiday shenanigans. We’ve forgone our schedules for calorie packed merriment. We’ve embraced the season with so much fervor, our wallets, our stomachs and our emotions are upset in a mostly good way. But the party will be over soon and Monday, January 4, will be here, all bright and shiny, waiting for us to make our mark and start good habits in the New Year.
We should all collectively rename January and call it “Good Intentions Month” instead.
Because, really, by February we’ve forgotten all we want to accomplish and we’re back into old habits and patterns. We’re not exercising every day. We’re not flossing. We’re not making time to write and pursue our writing dreams. We don’t have the time that we thought we would have to do what we want to do. We’re not writing the words we want to write. We’re not published yet. We never got that dusty manuscript out of the drawer.
I believe, though, that the mid-winter fizzle doesn’t have to come. I believe that with encouragement, practical planning and accountability, you can find time to meet your writing goals for 2016.
- Know your specific goals. You can’t develop a good writing habit if you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish. Come up with a clear goal for the day. Will you write for ten minutes? Will you write a thousand words? Will you get up an hour early every day?
- Have a space that’s just yours for writing. If you don’t have a designated space to write, then it will be much harder to commit to your goals. Take some time to clear off a table, restart that old laptop or unpile the desk. If you take your workspace seriously, you’ll be more motivated.
- Have an organized, easy to access document. If you only have a few minutes a day to write, you don’t want to waste it looking for that old file from Windows 98. Get everything together either on your computer or on your desk and keep it handy.
- Evaluate your time commitments. This could be the most challenging thing you do in this process. Slowly go through all your obligations and evaluate their importance. If you can say no to an obligation you don’t love or need, then you can fill it up with writing time.
- Look for time wasters throughout your day. We’re all given the same amount of time a day. We get no more or less. Make sure every moment of your day is useful. You may be surprised at how much extra time you have if you turn off Netflix, combine errands or stop playing Crossy Road.
- Delegate your responsibilities. Is it possible that other members of your household can take over a few tasks? Analyze what can be given to spouses, children or teens. By gently instructing them and trusting them in your tasks, you’re giving them value and having them share your vision.
- Communicate your needs to your family. Have you expressed a need to the people that you live with that you want time to write? Can you ask for ten minutes here and there? This also brings them into your life and they be your biggest cheerleaders.
- Have low expectations and grace for yourself. Your writing goals for 2016 should not be unrealistic and lofty. A NYT best-selling title in the next 365 days isn’t in your future. Instead, think about small, daily changes that can make a difference in your time management.
- Learn to work fast. If you only have ten minutes to write and you’re fussy over each word, you’re not going to go far. Practice free writing or sprinting so you have something on the document. This habit will build your productivity and your confidence.
- Silence your inner critic. This is probably the hardest thing to do. Let 2016 be the year that you look your inner critic in the eye, call him a dirty name and kick him out the door. You can’t succeed if you have that inner critic giving you trouble.
I’d love to encourage you in the specifics of all ten with step-by step instructions, personal encouragement and accountability for the first eight weeks of 2016.
I believe that your writing goals are doable. I believe that no one is so busy that they can’t give their dream ten minutes a day. I believe that households can be run, jobs can be attended to, meals can be made, kids loved and an aspiring writer can find ten minutes.
Please sign up for my Time Management Boot Camp.
Every Monday, for eight weeks, you’ll get an email from me that gives you specific, step by step tips on how to find more time to write. I’ll address each one of the previous ten points. I’ll give you ideas on how to organize your home. I’ll give you resources like time-saving recipes. I’ll give you vision for training your kids to help you with household tasks. The ultimate goal? More time for you and your writing dreams.
The first email is coming January 4, 2016! Sign up today!
I love January. It’s so full of hope and promise. This year, I tell myself, will be the year that I hit all those goals, that I become a better person, that I change for the better.