(See Part One: Three Simple Steps to Set Obtainable Goals)
Now that you are thinking about what types of obtainable goals you’d like to work towards, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what it takes to evaluate the time and effort needed to make those goals a reality.
Now, I’ll be honest, Working Writers – if you were unemployeed, you might not need to do this. You might be able to live the reality of the Writing Dream, which usually involves not waking up until noon, writing until dinner, force feeding yourself two packets of ten cent noodles, and then going back to sleep for twelve hours. Man. That sounds like such a wonderful dream, huh? [end sarcasm]
But see, the key to letting that happen is to not be employed, which makes all of those things a lot harder to do. Because we have a powerful need to eat, we work hard and try to fit the writing in around the other places.
I don’t care if you are a plotter or a pantser; organizing your life and evaluating your time and effort required to obtain your goals is just smart.
So, let’s begin, huh?
Evaluating your Time with a Tracker Part 1
You are all such lucky readers. Instead of making you imagine what I’m going to be talking about, I made you PDFs. Now you can’t say I didn’t give you all the tools you need to make your evaluations easy.
The first PDF I have for you is a time tracker. Time Tracking – Down Time
I use this time tracker once a month to evaluate the time I have to spend on my writing and blogging projects. During particuarly volatile times, I’ve been known to fill out a new one of these a week. Life happens, and The Great Dividing Line understands that. This tool is designed to help.
At the top, fill out the hours you are awake for that week. If it’s the same thing every week, congratulations! Now you only need to do this form once.
For every hour slot within each day, mark if you are commuting, working, or whatever else-ing. I personally use colored markers. I’m lucky enough to have a day job where I have some flexibility in my workload; if I know we are going to have a light week, I will mark all of my work hours with both colors.
If you really must watch Desperate Housewives (or any other TV show) and it is much more important to you than getting your writing finished, block that time out as well. Same goes for kidlet events, date nights, bar hoping, progression raiding… you get the drift. (Also, you might want to think about changing your goals. Just saying.)
Once your schedule is marked up, evaluate when you have holes in your schedule. If you have even half of an hour to dedicate to writing, this is great! Make sure you grab that time and refuse to let it go. People can live without you for half of an hour. My husband is really bad about letting me have uninterrupted writing time (even though he’s a writer too – go figure). We’ve devised a system that if I’ve got a certain type of music on and my schedule on the door, that means no knocking. If he’s bleeding, I might apologize for getting upset later. If he’s dead… well, he shouldn’t have been knocking anyway! (I jest.)
Post this schedule somewhere important, such as your writing desk. If you don’t have that luxury, scan it and make it the background on your desktop. Make sure you can see your schedule at all times, and feel free to adjust it always.
Evaluating your Time with a Tracker Part 2
The second PDF I have for you is another time tracker! Time Tracking – Goal
This one is slightly different. This one is to help you track how much time you are really spending on your goals so that you are able to adjust your goals for the future. This is really helpful for all you #ROW80 participants out there.
The general idea for this tracker is to make sure you write the goal you are attacking each day (remember, you need to start small), jot down how much time you’ve allocated, and then how much time you really spend.
Be honest. Lying won’t impress anyone, since you are the only person seeing this.
There are three outcomes for this that should affect your future goal planning:
- Your goals are taking you much longer than you thought, so make your goals smaller.
- Your goals are taking you no time at all, so make your goals larger.
- Your goals are juuuust right, so keep it up! And watch out for the bear family that may or may not come to eat you.
Evaluating your Efforts with a Modified WBS
I’ve been taking some courses in project management, and I highly suggest them for all writers, especially plotters (pantsers might find the courses a little restricting). The tools and methods they give you are super helpful.
The first thing I clung to in those classes was a Work Breakdown Structure, or WBS. The Modified WBS I’ve made can be found here. Modified WBS
Let me give you a big tip here: if you can’t fit your goal in the space I’ve given you, it’s too complex. Make it smaller.
The way I fill this out is that I start at the End Result Goal and write it in the blank. I’ve noted that this goal should be completable within six months of the start date (which should be the day you fill it out).
Next, I fill in the six Beginning Goals that will make the End Result Goals a reality. These are the things you are going to be doing every week.
Finally, I fill out the Mid-Step Goals. These are the things you’re working towards that will make your End-Result Goal a reality. These goals should be obtained by about the three-month mark, if you want to be on-track for your End Result Goal.
I know that can be a little confusing, but it is what has worked best for me. Since I’m not you; feel free to try it another way!
Why no Tools for Evaluating Money?
As a Working Writer, you should have an idea on how to balance your check book. It’s not much harder than that. You need to evaluate the money going out versus the money coming in. You don’t need to be a mathmatician.
Semicolon however comma if you guys want me to make a graph or chart or something (maybe a flow chart!) for this, just leave me a comment and I’ll get around to it.
I hope you find these tools useful. If you need any more explination for using them, please let me know!
Next week we will look at writing PDQ and how it can boost your efficiency.
Until then, do you have tools you like to use to organize your life to make your goals more obtainable?