On Efficiency, Or How To Get Everything Done As A Multi-Tasking Writer

Overwhelmed Vortex

Authors are being encouraged to do their own marketing, blog, podcast, network online and in real life, have a speaking career… oh, and write books and have a personal life!

I have been asked several times now how authors are meant to get all of this done, and also how I personally do it (Thanks, Andy Shackcloth!). I have a consulting business which pays the bills so this site is not my ‘job’ as yet.

Here are 5 key tips for getting it all done:

  1. Batch and schedule your work. I do most of my blog posts at the weekend and will write the full week in advance because I don’t know how busy I am in the week. I read blogs on my iPhone on the commute (45 mins on train each way). I send interesting ones to my email for scheduling as tweets. I check email and Twitter at breakfast time, and also after work and also on the iPhone (VERY useful gadget!) It looks like I am on Twitter all the time because I tweet over a 24/7 period and have done for months. People comment that I never sleep! But my secret weapon is TweetLater. I schedule several days, even weeks in advance using blog posts I read as above. I also add my own posts as they are scheduled. I also book my podcast interviews weeks or months in advance so I know what is coming.
  2. Turn off everything else when writing. If I need to write blog posts, or articles or the new fiction novel, I turn off everything else, set my alarm and just write for an hour. Then I might take a break, check Twitter and email, and then turn it off again.
  3. Get rid of the TV. I have not had a TV for nearly 3 years now and it is fantastic! I download shows I want to watch on the computer and so make conscious choices. That leaves a lot of time for writing, blogging, tweeting… and the rest of life!
  4. Know your goal and love the process! I have a goal for my online business and it will not happen without consistent work. I also love my blog, love networking with authors, love writing – so it becomes what I want to do with every minute of spare time as well as what I am driven to do. If you don’t have clear goals and you don’t enjoy all this stuff, then stop doing that and outsource it. This is the key message of Tim Ferriss’ “The Four Hour Work Week” (excellent book). Work is defined as something you want to do less of, and the rest of your time is productive, happy fun!
  5. Learn what you need to know in order to do it efficiently. I spent 6 months blogging (before this site) without having a clue what I was doing. I also wasted a lot of time in publishing before I learnt how to be effective. Then I spent some money learning how to achieve my goals effectively and efficiently. If you don’t invest in your own education, you will end up wasting time and money, so learn and then do.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons KrazyDad

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  1. M.E. Staton says

    I like and loathe number 3. We did get a digital box so we could record programs and watch them at our leisure and not get tied to a schedule for tv programs but we end up recording so much that it always seems like I spend more time trying to watch tv and clear space in my digi box than write. This is of course an excuse but I have to learn to put down the remote and perhaps schedule periods of time to watch lumps of programming instead of turning the tv on out of habit.

  2. admin says

    Hi Michaela, Thanks for the comment.
    I seriously think having no TV is the most effective way to “make” more time. I definitely feel like staring at a box sometimes in a brain dead fashion, but then I end up reading or going to bed early – very therapeutic! I do still watch shows on iTunes though – I’m still a Grey’s Anatomy fan! :)
    Thanks, Joanna

  3. says

    I love tip number 4. I’ve always been a big believer in doing what you love – what good is money if you’re constantly miserable? Better to make a little less in salary and gain a lot more in happiness. Not to mention – when you do something you really enjoy, you’re probably going to be more productive and find more success anyway.

    Also wanted to say that I definitely identify with the first paragraph in your post. When you’re in small business or out on your own, there’s always a lot of work to be done!

  4. says

    Fantastic tips, Joanna!

    I got rid of my T.V. over a year ago and have never looked back. Like you, I download anything I want to watch and love having the freedom to fit my viewing into MY schedule and not the broadcasters. But, there are other time wasters like television that I’ve not had quite so much success cutting out. Video games, for example, seem to keep pulling me back in. Must break free! But since computer is required for work, the games are just that bit too easy to reach without a great deal of will power. Not having a T.V. makes giving into that temptation impossible.

    Outsourcing is one of my biggest raves lately. I’m a firm believer in doing only what you love or do well. Anything I don’t enjoy doing will take me a long time to do and I’ll feel miserable doing it. It is more cost effective to hire others to do those jobs and spend my time doing what I love. Time is a valuable commodity and so many people spend it doing things that aren’t cost effective. Outsourcing is a way out of that trap.

    Thanks for sharing your tips! I love reading how other writers work around the increasing demands of business to get more out of every day.

  5. says

    TV is the a total time suck; so much better to download content and choose when you want to watch. Makes one more discriminating, too.

    Totally agree with your points.

  6. says

    Still having trouble accepting it.

    You definitely put out 36 hours output from every 18 hour day.

    Related to a time lord perhaps?

    I relate heavily with the batch and schedule your work item. Setting goals and deadlines, is normally a strong enough action to protect against distraction and procrastination.

  7. says

    Really wish I could multi-task. I find it completely impossibly. I only have a one track mind. LOL!

    I’m envious. But I’ll put some of your tips to good use. Thanks very much!

  8. says

    I’m a scheduler. My blog is written between 7:30 and 8:00 am. I start work at 9 am. Break at noon. Write until 3. Work on marketing or other blog work until 5.

    If I didn’t, I’d be a mess. 😉

    • says

      So how do you handle the inevitable interruptions? What if you get to 8am and you haven’t finished the blog and have 100 exciting ideas running round your head, all of which will get forgotten if you don’t write them down now?

  9. Steve Griffin says

    We have a TV, but I do everything in my power to not look it in the eye…I purposely had no cable outlet ran to my home office when we built our house so I could just close the door and shut out the temptation of watching the tube. I agree with many of the other replies…tv is the worlds worst time-suck. Thanks for the post…enjoyed it.

  10. jennifer says

    You are my hero!! Your tip #1 is so right-on. I try to write my posts ahead of time…but it rarely ever happens because I get distracted (see #2 and #3). I’d love to have a week where all of my posts, guest posts and columns were written ahead of time, rather than the night before (or the hour before) it’s scheduled to post. You have inspired me to start scheduling blocks of time into my week to get my writing done!

  11. says

    Axing the TV is an excellent suggestion. In my mind, the DVR is the best invention since… well, since TV. Joanna, these are great suggestions, and I’m going to put some of them to use today — especially the “batch and schedule” one!


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