But where do you start? Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? And how can you write your next book if you now need to spend time writing blog posts, posting social media updates, and chasing after Likes and followers?
I'm going to share my favorite time management tips to help you get a handle on all that, starting with tip number one—you don’t need to be everywhere. Let me say it again. Whoever told you that you need to be everywhere to reach your readers was either inexperienced, didn’t know better, or was repeating an old marketing belief.
Now for my second tip. Don’t chase followers and Likes. Yes, it’s easy to be impressed when you go to Twitter and see that someone like Guy Kawasaki has 1.5 million followers. But let’s put this in perspective. He’s an incredibly popular author and techie, and an angel investor. And he has a team who handles his social media for him.
Indie authors like you can’t afford to hire a team to handle their social media. Indie authors need to clean toilets, prepare meals, work outside of the home, squeeze in a few hours at the crack of dawn to write books, find more time to pen blog posts, and on top of everything else, market your books.
No wonder you feel overwhelmed, right?
So now that the problem is obvious, let me share my time management solution with you. There are four steps to handling your social media in 30 minutes a day:
- Don’t be everywhere. Find out where your readers hang out online and spend time on those networks.
- Curate the information you share on social media. Select choice tidbits from your own blog, blogs you follow, and experts and colleagues you admire.
- Take a few minutes to schedule your posts for the day.
- Socialize with your readers. This is the best part—you get to talk with readers who love your books. The most important part of social media is social networking, now called engaging.
It’s so easy for new authors to stress out over the demands of social media. I know that when I started using social media for the first time, I made a lot of mistakes. I interacted with members of LinkedIn groups who weren’t members of my target audience because I joined the wrong groups.
When people asked me to write posts for them, I always said yes. But what was I doing writing a post about the importance of recycling? The blog’s host wanted me to write more posts for them. Thank goodness I didn’t.
I share this information with you so that you won’t feel bad when you make mistakes with your own marketing, pursue the wrong audience, or even join the wrong social media networks.
No one is born a social media ninja. And everyone at one time or another spends way too much time chasing links and watching cat videos on Facebook. Everyone.
There’s a harsh reality to social media. If you only occasionally post something, say once a month, you’re not helping your online marketing. Occasional tweeting does nothing for your brand or your marketing. To be effective, you need to be consistent.
Time Management Strategies for Creative Entrepreneurs
Joanna Penn refers to herself as a creative entrepreneur. Guess what? So are you.
Anyone who endeavors to write a book, self-publish it, and market it to improve sales is a creative person who is in business for himself or herself. Producing and selling books is a business and it’s important to see yourself as a publishing entrepreneur.
Here’s a question for you: Do you want to write one book or do you want to write as many books as you possibly can? The reality of being a self-published author is that the more books you write, the more books you’ll sell.
So, do you want to be a productive authorpreneur? In other words, do you want to fit writing lots of books into your already busy life?
These days, our attention is divided between our creative life, family, household responsibilities, pets, chores and tasks, 9-to-5 jobs, friends, and the unexpected. So if you think of yourself as a creative entrepreneur who is in the business of writing, selling and marketing books, then the theme of productivity arises.
If you’ve already written a book, you know about the types of sacrifices you had to make to produce that book. Perhaps you had to relinquish the responsibility of making meals to other members in your household for a while. Or maybe you added a Do Not Disturb sign to your door to create the quiet space you needed from your family. Or maybe you woke up at 4 am every day to fit in your writing time before caring for children and getting yourself ready for work.
No one said that being a creative entrepreneur would be easy. That’s why as a writer and as a social media marketer you want to look for strategies that can make you more productive.
First, there are three books you might enjoy:
Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, by Brian Tracy – This is a more traditional time management book that suggests that you tackle your most important project first thing in the morning. Following the system outlined in this book has helped me to be more productive in my life.
The Five-Minute Journal: The Simplest, most effective thing you can do every day to be happier, created by Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas. The journal forces you to plan your day in terms of intentions and affirmations. This isn’t a frivolous exercise. In fact, the structure of the journal is based on research, which the creators explain at the start of the book.
Let’s look at other ways you can help yourself to become a more productive creative.
The Pomodoro Technique
According to Francesco Cirillo, the inventor of the Pomodoro Technique, you accomplish more when you take regular breaks. This is how it works:
- Start your task.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Work on your book or task until your timer rings.
- Take a short break. It can be two minutes or five minutes long.
- Every fourth work period, take a longer break, about 15 to 30 minutes in duration.
While you are focused on your task, you can’t let yourself be distracted by email, Facebook, or a pet yapping.
Cirillo, through his research, discovered that people are more productive when they take regular breaks. Remember your days in college? You probably spent hours in the library preparing for exams. It would have been better back then if you’d allowed yourself to take regular breaks.
There’s another reason to take regular breaks. Sitting is considered to be as harmful to our health as smoking. Researchers found that sitting actually kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting.
You will be more productive, and healthier if you do two things:
- Take regular breaks by following the Pomodoro Technique. There are Pomodoro apps available and timers for your smartphone, Mac, or PC, such as Pomodoro Timer, Pomodoro Keeper, Focus Time, and Break Time. Search for Pomodoro-type timers in any browser and you’ll find some that you’ll like.
- During your breaks, stretch, do squats and pushups, and refocus your eyes on the outdoors.
Need Help Staying Focused? There's an App For That
Despite our love for stringing words together and searching for the most appropriate metaphor, there is always the temptation of a distraction while we write. Maybe it’s the cup of licorice tea you want—again. Or a podcast from Fresh Air that you keep forgetting to listen to but for some reason right now seems to be a great time to do that. Isn’t now, when you have this space of time set aside, the perfect time to do other things?
There are plenty of distractions in the world and as writers, we sometimes need to ignore each and every one of them, retreat to our favorite spaces, lock the door, and just write.
The process sounds easy but it isn’t. Sure, there are those who rise every morning, write for five hours, have lunch, take a swim, and then return to their families. But how many authors have the resources and freedom to adhere to that schedule? Many of us need to wedge writing into the tight spaces of our lives. We rise before the sun breaks the horizon, work all day, and interact with our family in the evenings. We promise ourselves that we will write every morning from 4 to 6 am to pursue our passion, live our dream, and let the stories run wild on the page.
Many of us start with the best of intentions. We set our alarm clocks at ungodly hours of the morning, awake with little eagerness, and harness ourselves to our chairs. We look at our computer screens and suddenly have an urge to check our email.
There are so many sources for our digressions.
If you find the online world distracting, you’re not alone. There exists an entire universe of tools that writers can use to help them become more productive during the time they set aside for their writing.
Social Media Distracting You from You Writing? Try These Apps
Don’t let Pinterest keep you from reaching your daily writing goal. If it is, try one of these apps.
The Internet is so tempting. It’s said that Jonathan Franzen obliterated the ethernet card in his laptop and locked himself in a drab room in order to avoid distractions that would divert his attention away from his manuscript. Think about it. You sit down to write and suddenly you wonder what you should prepare for dinner or which bottle of wine you should purchase when you go to Costco later in the day. If this happens to you, Anti-Social may be the app you need. Basically, this app will block you from your own temptations whenever you're trying to write. This is how it works. Suppose you want to spend the next three hours writing. Just turn on Anti-Social, schedule it for three hours, and you’ll be blocked from distracting social media websites. Unfortunately, this particular application is only available to Mac users.
- Gentle Mode: A certain amount of time after you stop writing, a box will pop up, gently reminding you to continue writing.
- Kamikaze Mode: You will need to keep writing or your work will unwrite itself. Yes, the program will begin to delete your what you’ve written until you return to writing. That consequence should keep everyone on track, but it does seem severe.
- Normal Mode: If you persistently avoid writing, you will be played a most unpleasant sound. The sound will stop if and only if you continue to write.
Do you lack self-control when you're on the Internet, checking into your LinkedIn groups or joining a Hangout on Google+? When you’re supposed to be writing your next book do you find yourself sneaking a peek at the latest email you received? You’re not alone. This free application will block you from accessing the websites that distract you the most for a set period of time that you determine. Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites – even if you restart your computer or delete the application. So make sure that you really don’t want to access those sites before you set the timer.
With the Right Atmosphere, You Can Be More Creative
Does atmosphere affect our creativity? Of course. Try these apps to enhance yours.
According to research, it can be more difficult for some people to be productive in a quiet space. That is why some people can get more writing done in the middle of Starbucks where people are chatting, ordering lattes, and munching on muffins. This app will create a background of coffee shop sounds to soothe you into your sweet spot of writing. It claims to produce the perfect mix of calm and commotion. This app is available for the iPad, iPhone and Mac in the iTunes store for $1.99. There are a number of similar apps, or you can simply write your next book at a coffee shop or plan your favorite instrumental music.
Google Play Music
Formerly Songza, this program from Google is completely free to use. To find this app, type Google Play Music in your search bar.
This app, which syncs with Macs and PCs, provides a distraction-free writing environment. While using this app, you can change the color of the page, the font, and adjust the ambient and keyboard sounds. You can save what you write as a Text File or as a PDF. Once you open your account, the app will only display what you write. Pay a one-time fee of $5.11 to start using it.
What are your time management tips for greater productivity?
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