If you do creative work, you might consider how to get more done in less time. In the world of multitasking, creatives can become lost because they scatter their thoughts and feelings among too many things to do. I’ve read advice for creatives about making chores into activities. Run all your errands in one afternoon. Cook and freeze enough meals all day to feed everyone for a week or more. Answer routine emails once a week until your inbox is empty.

Of course, I’m going to talk specifically about writers here. You probably know that I’ve done a lot of research on time management and personal organization. And I’ve come up with a set of guidelines from all the research to use myself.

Over the last two or three years, though, I’ve become frustrated with my schedule, which in theory should work so well. I kept wondering why it didn’t. I’m going to show you what I used to do, and what I’m doing now. And why I think what I’m doing now is better.

My days had a set schedule/routine, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. I take Thursday and Sunday off—Thursday to shop instead of the weekend, and to do other errands, perhaps see a doctor, whatever comes up. Sunday is my unplug day—I check email morning and night, but the rest of the day I [try to] stay away from the computer.

This is what my schedule looks like:

  • Get up, get dressed, get coffee and orange juice, turn on computer, make bed while computer warms up.
  • Drink coffee and juice, read and respond to emails.
  • Write 1,000 words on work in progress—fiction
  • Exercise.
  • Eat lunch while reading newspaper (resting eyes from computer glare)
  • Housework, more email, odd jobs—not my best time of day to do creative work. I have one chore planned for each day—bathroom and kitchen day, dust and dry mop day, vacuum day, and so on—more about this later.
  • Four o’clock, put computer aside, no more housework, relax for an hour, reading a book.
  • Five o’clock, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up kitchen, read or do email until seven.
  • Seven o’clock, work for one hour on a writing project or marketing.
  • Eight o’clock, downtime or more email, Facebook.
  • Nine o’clock, more writing projects
  • Ten—finish up on computer, shut it down. Read until bedtime.

Okay, I left out personal grooming, talking to my husband, goofing off.

You’ll notice I don’t watch TV. Well, rarely, I watch football games once a week during the season, and the occasional show my husband is recommending, or a movie he’s watching. Not really my thing, though.

Looks really good on paper, doesn’t it? Not that many hours of work.

The trouble is that the marketing also gets interspersed in there—Twitter, Facebook, blog articles, a newsletter every so often, and lots of other stuff I can’t even remember now. If I don’t schedule those times to relax, I don’t relax.

And usually, by 7 o’clock, I don’t want to do anything more. There’s simply too much stuff! Scattered stuff.

So, I have a new plan using the project idea.

  • Mornings stay the same except the writing new stuff switches to marketing when I’ve finished a project until I can’t think of another way to promote that project, then I go back to new writing.
  • Afternoons stay the same except I do projects instead of small bits of housework—my plan is:
  • Monday, major project, will differ each week.
  • Tuesday groceries, some cooking in advance.
  • Wednesday, catch up on email/home office work.
  • Friday/clean house.
  • Saturday laundry..

But evenings become either more writing/editing or marketing—in other words, not doing both every night, again, until it’s done for the latest project.

I’m not saying this is going to help, but it might. I’m a bit excited about this experiment. But would it be better to continue in the afternoon working on writing and marketing, and doing the other chores after dinner? Like with a regular job? Or reverse it and do the housework/chores first thing, get them out of the way, then spend the rest of the day writing? I’m not sure yet. We’ll see.

So, I’ll report back in a month or so. Stay tuned!


I have a three-pronged routine for saving stuff I need to copy and paste somewhere else. I use a PC, so I have no idea if all of this will work on a Mac.


(I wish my posture was this good!)

First, if it’s a website link, I use a free on-line program called Bitly to shorten it for use mainly on Twitter, but also in emails and other miscellaneous spots.


Copying whatever I need automatically goes to Ditto Clipboard Manager, another free, downloadable program whose icon sits with those other tiny icons at the right bottom of our screens. You can edit the items you copied to Ditto right in the program. You can delete them, too of course, or keep them around.


Third, I made my own document called LINKS where I put those items that I am sure I will need to use over and over again, maybe only for a week for promotion, or forever. They tend to get lost during the day of using only Ditto. Plus I can make the type as big as I want in my own document. Ditto uses tiny type. Most importantly, I put that LINKS document right on my desktop so I can click it on first thing and use it all day as necessary, adding, using, and deleting as I go. I still use Ditto for a quick copy and paste of many things and leave them in there for a few days for future use, if needed.

Until I started using number three, I often had to go and hunt up the link or other stuff in Ditto, and if it had been shortened by Bitly, was not sure if it was the right one. In my LINKS document, I can spell out what it’s for.

I love finding easy ways to get the small stuff done. This approach is one of them. Anyone have more tips for copying and pasting?




Time is intangible. You can’t see, smell, taste, hear, or feel it. So, it’s hard to pin down. Probably one of the reasons clocks were invented.

Timers can be a great help for keeping track of our time. Decide you’re going to work for an hour, set the timer, and you don’t have to think about time again until it goes off. Smart.

Clocks are not nearly as helpful, but if you check them often enough and pay attention, you may learn to “feel” how much time has passed and be able to guess pretty accurately what time it is. (I can actually do this, probably because I used to be very time conscious about everything, so I know it’s possible).

But I recommend using a timer. The benefits are many.

Here’s one example. You need to tackle a job that can take hours that you hate (cleaning out the kitchen cabinets and scrubbing them down, cleaning out a closet, or the garage, for example). Tell yourself you’ll work on it for fifteen minutes every day until the whole job is done. Every day at a set time, get ready, set your timer for fifteen minutes, and begin. You can stop at fifteen minutes, or if you feel like it, continue for a while. But don’t push yourself or you won’t want to put in your fifteen minutes the next day. You can always stop at fifteen minutes. Because tomorrow you going to do it for fifteen minutes again, and you know it will eventually be all done.

Or perhaps you want to do a big project, and you really like doing it, but you keep procrastinating. Again, set a time of day to start, put your timer on one hour, and go. At one hour, do stop. If you’ve been sitting, get up. Stretch. Do a small chore, grab something to eat, freshen up, make a phone call (standing). If you’ve been on your feet the whole time, sit down with a snack, file your nails, make a phone call—anything that takes about ten minutes Then you can call it a day, or go for another hour, then take another break. And so on.

You can use the same method to get a lot of small jobs done all at once. Set the timer for half an hour or an hour, and work on that list until the time is up. Tomorrow’s another day.

Hope this is helpful.


The importance of to-do lists cannot be over-stated. Almost everyone who uses them gets more done than those who don’t. Sure, a few people can keep everything in their heads without a problem. Most of us need some help remembering, especially lists.  Studies have shown that people who are disorganized are anxious. Making a list of to-dos, and using a planner, calendar or spreadsheet for expenses can help calm the anxiety.

However, be very careful with that to-do list. Here are several ideas I’ve come across during my study of this subject:

Go ahead, make the list. Then choose either the three or up to six most important things on it. Write them down on another list, and put away your longer one. Concentrate on getting those three to six things done before tackling anything else. This does not work for long-term projects, however. Most people cannot write a whole novel using this idea.

In that case, break your six larger projects down into smaller chunks. For the novel, your to-do list says to work for a certain about of time or word count every day. Then you go on to the next item.

If the next item of importance can be finished, after doing your hour or so on the broken-down project, finish item two.

Maybe item three or four is also a project that will need to be spread out over several days. Again, plan to devote a certain amount of time to it, then get to the other things.

Another way to do a list is to break down your life into sections: Family, work, health, finances/family business, spirituality, leisure. Or pick your life priorities, and put them in order of importance. Then plan to devote a certain amount of time every day to each one. In this case, you’ll probably have to again break down your work priorities into order of importance and amount of time to spend on each every day during working hours. Notice the coincidence of my listing six life priorities. The other day I read about picking three things from your to-do list every day to concentrate one. Today, I read about picking six items. I’ve seen the other idea of life priorities over the years.

I’m thinking for work, you might want to have three major project priorities, and three smaller ones that can be done quickly.

I suggest fooling with your to-do list or lists (could be one for work and one for personal) until you find a system that makes you the least anxious and least likely to procrastinate.

That will end up being your own, personal system.Then, you can do the happy dance.


Just some random thoughts about things we do that waste our time and energy.

  • Never move. It takes at least six months to get resettled, I learned from our many moves. Oh, well, if the reason is good enough, go ahead, but you’ve been warned.
  • Never, ever change your email address. Remember moving taking so long? Part of that is getting everyone on board with your new physical address. When you change your email addy, all hell breaks loose, and it will take you at least six months to recover. See a pattern here?
  • Never buy stuff you don’t need or love. ’Nuff said.
  • The more children, pets, or spouses you add to your life, the more complicated it will become. Just sayin’.
  • The more activities you decide to be in, the less time you’ll have for other activities. Sit down with yourself and have a good conversation about how many things you’ll take on outside of your family and work life. This includes volunteering, exercising, and activities like bring-your-own-wine to a painting class or bowling.
  • Have a place for everything, and put things in their places when you’re finished using them. Your future self will thank you, and maybe even some family members. Time wasted looking for things can never be regained.
  • Social media can be a huge time suck. Be picky. Both about how many social media you get involved in and how much time you spend on them. Do not allow yourself to be interrupted when working by phone calls, text messages, or the lure of Facebook or Twitter. Especially when driving! You’re smarter than that.
  • Plan one or two days a week to do errands and shop. Make lists, be systematic in your route, and stay off the phone until you get home again. Your nerves will thank you.

What have I missed. I know it’s something or some things. Please let me know in the comments!




Not many people have an old-fashioned wife anymore. I’m talking about the one who managed the household without any help from a spouse and who was also totally supportive of that spouse’s work, to the determent, often, of her own creativity and desires.

Not only that, but the world of communication has gone crazy. We are plugged in to everyone and everything. If we allow it, there are constant interruptions from phones, email, regular mail, other people, pets, and the lure of electronic entertainment on televisions and computers/tablets.

So the creative person has to struggle to manage it all. Without a plan, and without some basic organizational skills, we will either go nuts or just never finish anything we’ve started. Or at least it will take us twice as long and be twice as stressful as it has to be.

The basic life plan for a creative is to find the best time of day for work and make it sacrosanct. That means no interruptions from anything, unless there’s “fire or blood.” (I don’t know who said that first, but I love it.)

This means the creative is in a room with the door shut and without access to phone, email, the internet or any other potential interruptions because they are either turned off or the person has enormous willpower when in the zone.

The creative has to have a regular life, of course, both for mental health and to feed the creative mind. It won’t produce in a vacuum. Therefore, it’s also best to figure out just how much time can be devoted each day to creative endeavors, and unless there’s fire or blood, do so.

To further this goal, the creative also should set up systems so that tools are at hand and no time is lost in setting up. Best to clear everything up at the end of the session to be ready for the next day.

So, set a minimum amount of time at a certain time of day and have a place where you won’t be interrupted. When done for the day, do everything needed to get a good start the next day. For example, if you’re a writer, do a quick spell check, back up your work, write a few notes about what you did that day and/or want to do the next, put in a little research. A painter, it should go without saying, needs to clean brushes, take care of the medium she’s using, etc. A crafter should put tools and supplies away for easy access the next day, and clean up any mess. And so on.

Put away that knife!

I know some people say they can live in chaos and create. They are probably in the genius class. Since most of us (me included) are not, it helps tremendously to be organized. Actually, even the genius would probably benefit, as well.

Do you have a set time of day and a place where you do your creative work? If you do, please share in the comments.


In today’s hectic world, we really need to work at making our life the best it can be. Here are a few thoughts about that.

First, no matter how blah you feel, get up, dress up and show up. (Unless you’re really ill, then take care of yourself.)

Think about these top five ways to have a happy (or happier) life:

5. Take care of your finances

4. Make your environment as beautiful and neat as you can

3. Do all you can to be healthy (this includes spiritual things)

2. Love what you do

1. Love who you’re with


Run over them in your mind as each day progresses. Make sure you tend to all that need tending to.

If you have trouble with any of them, research about how to make things better. There are hundreds of books and millions of web links to help you out. If they don’t do it, get professional help.

It’s the only life we know for sure we’ll ever have. It’s up to us to make the most of it.


For a more productive day. Some of this is a repeat, but I think it’s worth saying it a bit differently so it can sink in.

When you first settle down to work, decide what your top priorities are for the day and decide when you’re going to do them. Make a to-do list in order or list them on your calendar.

What you want to do in the moment is often different from what you’d hoped to accomplish that  day. Stopping every hour to think about what you’re doing will help keep you on track.

Before dinner, assess your day. What went right? What do you wish you’d accomplished and didn’t, and why not? What can you do tomorrow to make it a better day than today was?

Fine tune: Only decide what you want to do each morning in order to be happy about it when you look back. After lunch, decide what you want to do in the afternoon so it will be a great one. Same after dinner. What will make it a memorable or productive evening?

Example: If you’re a writer or work at home, decide how much you’re going to write (words or timeframe) in the morning. Maybe morning is also the time you exercise. Get those two things done before lunch, and you have a great start. Afternoon—is this the time you’ll do housework, catch on email and phone calls? List what chores and emails you want to work on. After dinner, decide whether you’re going to do a few more work-related things or chores, or if you’re going to watch a movie you’ve been putting off, or a TV show, or dip into that book you got from the library. Try to leave at least the last two or three hours before you go to bed for relaxation, doing something you love to do so you end the day in a great frame of mind and relaxed.


He’s back:

Remember my post about developing habits to help you get through your days quicker and easier?

Well, here are a few more thoughts about fine-tuning your schedule.

1.     Have a routine for checking your notes, calendar and to-do lists every day.

2.     For major projects, don’t list on your to-do list more than three to five actions related to the ones you’re going to tackle that day.

3.     Prioritize your goals on your list, not just in your head.

4.     Take items off your lists that are no longer necessary or desired, even if you haven’t finished them. It’s surprising how many of us leave things on there that no longer interest us or that we haven’t a prayer of accomplishing. They just clutter lists up and can make you feel discouraged.

Realize that you cannot always, get everything done that’s on your to-do list every day. Hardly anyone ever does. This will eliminate a lot of stress.

And finally, effective time management uses the great in-and-out system;

Try not to take on a new task before an old one is finished.

This works on so many levels—Before bringing in a new food product, new clothing, new decorations, new project, new anything, get rid of something else. You whole life will be less cluttered.

And your time will be more easily managed.


You’ve been keeping lists of your to-dos, and even crossing off some. Maybe you notice that several of them have been hanging around on the list way too long. Probably because you dread doing them. They are unpleasant in some way—will take too long, get you all hot and sweaty, take too much brain power, or something else.

Want to clear those tasks from your list in a hurry? Pick one day to do them all, or as many of them as you can cram into the day.

Decide on a time to start and a time to finish. Work for your one hour, take a ten-minute break, work the next hour, take a break and continue until mid-day when you take an hour for lunch and relaxation. Then go again in the afternoon with one hour/ten-minute break until the time you decided you would stop. You may even get on such a roll that you decide to continue until you have more done.

Friday’s a good day to do this. You have the weekend to look forward to, and during that weekend you can bask in all you accomplished on Friday.