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Thursday, July 19, 2007

RWA, Time Management

This was one of my favorite panels from the con. I'm always up for anything that will make me more efficient.

I almost didn't attend this one. I was at a different workshop but the speaker seemed to be covering stuff I already knew, so I slipped out to this one next door. Imagine my surprise when the speaker threw out my first rule of time management.

When faced with a lot of stuff to do, I always do the hardest first. My thinking is that I'm freshest with the first project so I might as well get rid of the nasty job right off the bat.

Not according to April Kihlstrom. She suggests doing the easy projects first, in order to give you a sense of accomplishment and success. Psychologically, it provides a cushy base so that you feel strong enough to get more things done.

I can see how this would be useful, especially for people who need that jolt of confidence to get the next job on the list done. And who among us have ever been on-the-ball, and raring to go each and every time? There are days when tying my shoes feels like a Herculean task. We all have off days, so this was excellent advice when we need that push to get on with stuff that's holding us back.

This is especially true while writing. How often have I stared at a chapter knowing what needs to go next, but not having the energy (or right frame of mind) to write that chapter like I should? Just move on to the next section and keep writing.

April said that when faced with a problem, even when we're not working on it, we're thinking about it. That's so true! What I've been doing lately if I'm stuck on a passage is putting something generic as a placeholder. I'll write something like: needs tender moment. Then I'll change the font color to let me know I have to return and flesh this scene out. I'll leave it alone for an hour or a day and discover when I do return, the scene writes itself out far more easily. While I've been working on something else, my subconscious was busy solving the problem.

The other tip she gave was to make a list of twelve things we can do in two minutes or less. Whenever you feel like you're banging your head against the wall, take out your list and do one or two of those things. All of a sudden you feel successful and strong enough to meet your next challenge.

She said the important thing is to have fun. If you look at your goals as obstacles, it grinds you to a crawl, but if those goals become something to look forward to, you feel you can accomplish anything. And that's a good thing.

Email Update: Sadly, my company has instructed us not to access our home email from work anymore. So if you write me during the day, chances are you won't hear from me until later that night.

That puts a kink in my correspondence. I get so much email I sometimes use my lunch hour to clear everything out. Now, I guess I have to actually go eat lunch.