Categorizing activities, It seems obvious, I know. But time management is actually how I find time to write. When I am faced with what feels like 101 things to do in a day, I always revert back to the ABC Prioritisation method.
The ABC method is a psychological method that was popular in the 1970s. It involves categorizing activities everything on your to-do list into three categories:
Item’s A are of most importance, B second importance and C least importance.
Of course, you have to be careful when categorizing tasks. A lot of people fall into the trap of wrongfully categorizing activities tasks they don’t like in to list C as an attempt to avoid doing them, even if they are important. So when categorizing activities tasks, make sure to answer honestly, rather than picking tasks you enjoy.
Most days, for part-time writers who have a lot of other things going on, writing will fall on the C list, given the overabundance of important day to day tasks taking priority on the A list. Here, writing is supererogatory, it’s great if you can get all your other more important tasks done in the day and still have the time to write, but it’s not required.
If I’m being honest, it’s on very few occasions that I will write when it falls on my C list, when something is at the bottom of the pile I very rarely get to it.
Instead, the time to write is when the task falls on your A list. These are days where you have few or no other important tasks to do, weekends, days off, holidays. Here, writing can have your undivided attention and will allow you to produce your best work. No distractions, just time to sit and work.
A common response to this is usually “those are my days off, I want to relax!”
Perhaps you are right, but part-time writing ought not to be a chore. You should enjoy writing and want to prioritize it above lazy days off. And if you don’t wish too, then perhaps you are not cut out to be a part-time writer, or perhaps you ought to change what you write about or the way you go about it so that you do.
The best thing about the ABC model is that it ensures that you make the most of each day, preventing procrastination and only taking time off when you are satisfied that you have fulfilled your full potential.
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” — Zig Ziglar
Pick your battles.
The most important thing to take away from the ABC model is that you ought to choose your battles.
This means that you should only write when it is the most important task in your life at that given moment. To give you an example, during my University exam period I refuse to write because I am fighting more important battles. High pressure, categorizing activities, high stake exams beat writing for leisure on my priority list of importance every day of the week.
If you are trying to decide between writing and another task, ask yourself the following:
If your writing for leisure the answer will always be no. If you miss one submission spot on a publication someone can fill in.
However, alternative tasks could well be your fight and thus might take priority. My University exams, for example, is a battle only I can fight.
In a similar vein, unless you have committed to a particular submission date with a publication, not writing has few negative long term consequences. Depending on the alternatives, the negative consequences could be much greater.
Have you got a writing topic in mind that you feel needs to be heard here and now, or can the article wait? If it can wait, and you have more important tasks at hand, categorizing activities, then it might be worth putting writing on the back burner for now.
To summarise, you really ought to carefully assess the battles you are currently facing before you start writing, and only if writing is of the most important should you start writing.
“You’ve got to pick your battles, but then fight to the death for the ones that matter.”
― Tiffany Schmidt
Once you have established the days that you should start writing, the days it has an A priority, you need to maximize its full potential.
Plan ahead, even if you have your next 3 articles already lined up, maximize your time and keep writing. Trust me, your future self will thank you.
Last summer, I had 10 articles all lined up. I was then hit by lots of University deadlines. But my articles kept being published without me having to spare it a thought.
In fact, I actually had colleagues start asking me how I found the time to write, categorizing activities, and the truth is I didn’t. But by planning ahead, reader’s didn’t need to know about my lack of time.
So the next time you have a day dedicated to writing, make sure to maximize its full potential, rather than writing one article and adopting a “that will do” attitude.
Cut yourself some slack
Everything I have said so far implies that you should push yourself to the limit when working, and every spare minute you have you should be writing.