Lessons from the Day Job

By day, I’m an events coordinator and newsletter editor for a college and aside from the obvious skill overlap (editing articles, writing news stories, etc.) I’m amazed at the lessons that cross over into my writing life.

Today, I’ll focus on the most important lesson: Time management.

I’m a member of the Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors-International (ACCED-I) and in their frequent newsletters, I find an array of helpful articles. This one truly caught my eye and applied to my writing life:

Time Management as a Collegiate Event Planner by Erica Spencer, Florida Institute of Technology

Here are a few of the highlights:

“No matter the size of the campus or the size of the conference/events department, we all struggle with increasing demands, changing priorities, and reduced resources.”

Isn’t that so like writing nowadays? Writers no longer type away in a secluded room and reap the rewards. We market, blog, promote and Twitter like crazy!

How to get rid of the “stuff”

— “Get your inbox to empty:  Nothing is more draining than seeing an email inbox with 468 unread items or a physical inbox with a stack of papers 10-inches high.”

— “Close your email:  I refuse to have my inbox constantly open, and I don’t have the new email notification turned on.  Once the email inbox is empty, I only check it once every 2-3 hours to see what’s new and respond as needed.”

— “2-minute rule:  David Allen, in Getting Things Done: the Art of Stress-Free Productivity, says that two minutes is “the point where it starts taking longer to store and track an item than to deal with it the first time it’s in your hands” (131).  So, if you open an email, and you can respond in less than two minutes, it’s better just to deal with it right then, rather than have to re-read it and re-decide how to handle it at a later time.”

— “Categorize your to-do list by context:  Rather than having one giant to-do list, break the list up into contexts – calls, emails, contracts to write, events to invoice, etc.”

— “Learn to say No:  I still struggle with this, but according to the Manager Tools podcast (http://www.manager-tools.com/) this is one way that effective managers handle their calendars to avoid being overcommitted.  Manager Tools recommends reacting to every meeting initially with a “no” until you evaluate if the meeting meets your departmental goals.”

The last one hit me hard. I’m one of those people who will always say yes. Well, I was. Until I had so many things I tried to juggle at once that it all came crashing down. I had to re-prioritize and back out of several commitments I really hated to leave. But I’ve been happier since and my work and personal life are better for it.

There are several other fantastic ideas to help de-clutter and reorganize your tasks to keep you on track. I recommend reading the full article!

Any other suggestions for time management that really work for you? (Either writing-wise or in your day job?)

More about Nicole

Community Champion at Buffer ~ writer ~ reader ~ urban homesteader ~ former rodeo queen ~ @nmillerbooks

  • I am so into the “Learn to say no.”

    It became evident to me a long time ago that there’s nothing wrong at times with saying, “Sorry, I can’t.” I don’t believe we are meant to do everything, whether it’s for church or family or writing or…

    The hardest part is concentrating on discovering what God wants us to do at a particular time and forgetting about the rest.