About a month ago, I shared a blog on Effective Ways to Organize. That focused on managing our email Wrestling With Email. This week I want to focus on another aspect of getting organized: our work.
If you’re like me, you probably have several projects going on at once. It’s the nature of the beast. Some boast on their ability to multi-task. It’s even included in many job descriptions. I think multi-tasking is a myth. We can only concentrate on one thing at a time. The key is to learn to focus on that one thing while knowing where everything else stands in the process.
Right now, I am editing one of my own books. I am also reading a book in order to write and post a review. In addition, I am editing a book and providing coaching and mentoring to several clients. Two long-term free-lance offers are also pending.
I’m not bragging. I’m sure you all have similar lists of projects and tasks that need to be done.
The key I have discovered to managing this workload is setting priorities and organizing my time and workspace.
Many of our projects have due dates already established. Publishers want a revised manuscript by a certain date. Clients expect feedback by a certain date. We also impose due dates on ourselves. Otherwise, stuff just won’t get done.
For example, I’ve set April 20 as the date to complete the edit of my own book. I want the manuscript to be in the best shape possible before I pitch the story at a conference at the end of April. This way, if an agent or editor asks for the opening chapters or the first fifty pages or even the whole manuscript, I’ll be ready to submit immediately after the conference.
The book I am reading to review will be released April 15. I set a goal to have the review ready by April 8.
Setting priorities and due dates helps me organize my projects. Having a completion date helps me set priorities. The closer the due date, the higher the priority. In the examples I cite above, I set the due date to allow extra time for delays and glitches that may arise. Being OCD also helps. I’d rather be early than rushing at the last minute. For me, if I rush, I end up with a mess.
With clients, I negotiate due dates for the project. Sometimes, we work in small chunks of their work and each chunk will have a mutually agreed due date.
Next time, I’ll discuss organizing our schedules and workspace so we can manage these priorities.
What techniques have you found helpful in setting and managing your priorities?