Time Management + Self-Publishing : 5 Strategies to Efficiently Work Your Work
The greatest cost associated with self-publishing is time. Being that time is the most valuable commodity any of us have, it is imperative that we optimize its use. When self-publishing, knowing what publishing/writing tasks take the bulk of your time, helps in running your business smoothly. Here are some tips to help you efficiently maximize the time you spend working your business, while minimizing the stress associated with doing it all on your own.
Create a Work/Write Schedule That Shows Your Tasks and Dedicated Writing Days/Time
Not all tasks are daily tasks or even weekly. That being said, all publishing related tasks benefit from a clear, inclusive system. The simplest way to ensure that everything has been considered is to list the tasks to be completed, and then create a working schedule for when (and how) they will be completed.
There are two phases to your work/ writing schedule. Phase one of your schedule is represented by your work hours and days. Your schedule should consider any weekly recurring personal items. Don’t schedule two hours of writing time on the day and time you have a spin class. Be honest with your available working hours, and your willingness to work those hours. Create a working schedule that inspires discipline and results.
Phase two of your schedule is represented by the work that needs to get done. Include things like write blog posts, create blog post images, and schedule blog posts. Those examples work if you are keeping an author blog. The object of the schedule is to document recurring tasks that you must complete for your self-publishing brand and dedicated time to complete them. Your schedule is only as effective as it is accurate.
Use a Planner/Calendar to Document Time Spent On EVERYTHING
Your working schedule is for weekly recurring things, and your planner is for everything professional and personal. Here is where you would put things like expected consultations about your book cover, editor and cover designer turn around times. Promotions, Ad Boost, Page Reads and book purchases (for K.U. Authors) fit nicely and work to keep you on track of your publishing/authorpernuer goals. This is the place where you will also document your monthly expected word count (in order to meet your release date) and your day-to-day contributing word count.
Use your planner/ calendar to keep track of the success rates of your weekly schedule. At the end of the month, review what you have recorded. The real-time records will show you where efficiency adjustments are needed. If used to document word counts, you’ll be able to see how close or far you are from keeping your release date. Using a planner is efficient because it puts all your time needs in one place.
You aren’t limited to your professional life here. In fact, I strongly encourage its use for all things life related. So if you have to move your scheduled writing time for your nieces dance recital, you’ll know early. You can beam from the front row, and then go home to meet your writing quota. By taking the guesswork out of what has to be done and when, you reduce the pressure to get it all done right now. You have a plan. Get it done on schedule, or ahead. Both are better than trying to catch up from behind.
Maybe you aren’t the type who likes to write down all those details. No big deal. Apple, Android, and Google all have app stores overflowing with planner tech that will suite your needs. Try a few on and make sure they work efficiently for you. Pretty planners are just paperweights (or data suckers) if you never use them.
Prioritize Daily to-do-list By Time Costs
Prioritizing you to do lists doesn’t just benefit your professional life. Having a career does not lessen the responsibilities you may have to your family or other factions of your life. So, keep a daily to do list that includes expectations from your personal and professional life. Write (or type) everything you have to get done that day. Follow that up with how long each tasks will take to complete. Once you have a vision of your day, pick the items that take the least amount of time to complete. Do those first.
There is a science to this. Turns out, us humans, love finishing things. There is a certain thrill that comes from marking things off your lists and being able to move on to the next tasks. In addition to actually getting things done, you are giving yourself that much-needed boost to delve into the harder tasks. By prioritizing the things that take the least amount of time to complete first, you are making room from those things that may take more time or require more steps before completion.
Use your time wisely. I know. I know. My parents said that to me a lot too, and I hated it. Just because something is cliché doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. Remember you are a self-publishing author. The tasks you don’t complete for your business today, will still be there for you to complete tomorrow. Take the time to plan efficiently, and then work your butt off for your success.
Create Your Systems to Efficiently Manage Your Time
Here’s the thing about systems, they feel like a hassle to create. The upfront frustration is worth its weight in the time it saves. Don’t know how to identify a system? A system is simply your process written down. It compiles all the steps needed to start, and complete your tasks. Having a system in place eliminates two problems. The first, is where to start.
Of course you want to write a blog post, but what about the images? When do you outline the posts? Are you using a monthly theme? Answer all of these questions with your systems. Think of it as a checklist for your publishing action items. The second problem it solves, is what happens when you outsource. With your growing success, you will begin to outsource some of the work on your table. Having a system in place means that the work you hire out still meets your brand standards. All major brands have systems in place. It serves the same purpose for them as it will for you.
If you aren’t sure when to use systems for streamlining, then you are over thinking it. Start with your social media posts. Write how social media ties into your brand. Does it show your funny side? Does it offer readers close insight? Is it inspirational to other authors? Once you’ve determined your social media voice, and written it down, then go on to write how often you will post (add what days when possible) and what outside sources you will allow as influences for your posts. Your posts should be true to your system.
Deviation will most likely not break your brand, but consistency allows your readers to feel like they know you and what you stand for. From there, write all the steps it takes for you to complete the action. Design systems for any other tasks with multiple steps on your lists. By creating systems for lengthy parts of your process helps to assure you that nothing was missed during the execution.
Use Your Time Management Strategies
My final tip is the most basic. Use your time management strategies. I have listed the strategies that help me. Undoubtedly, you have more strategies you could add. The only way any of them are effective is if you use them. You are the boss. Treat yourself like an employer would and hold yourself accountable. Use the methods here in addition to those you have as a means for creating a thriving, self-publishing or any business.
If the strategies here don’t address your needs, tweak the skills you’ve learned until they do. Work out the details of what your time management must address for you, and then find sources that best help you execute. No one is going to run your business for you. That’s your job and you can do it.
What are some places in your work you know you can use a good system? Comment below.