This is a guest post by Brenda Novak and is part of her White Heat blog tour. Hope you enjoy it and it gets you to thinking.
Why? Because one thing I don’t plan into my day is time to relax and just “hang,” and that’s so important to relationships. Just being available to people is a great way to build stronger ties, but being available requires flexibility which is difficult for me and other workaholics to manage.
If my kids want to go somewhere or create something, I can put it on the calendar and make it happen. But what about those times when certain subjects wouldn’t come up if you weren’t just puttering around the house together, cooking or cleaning or shooting the breeze?
I’m great at getting stuff done. People ask me all the time, “How do you do it all?” But time management shouldn’t be about accomplishing the most in the least amount of time. It should be about balance, about nurturing those around us while we accomplish a reasonable amount.
So now that you know my greatest weakness (I’ve actually had to set goals to stop what I’m doing and let the rest go until tomorrow—LOL), I’ll tell you how I manage to write three books (and one novella) a year, travel, speak and promote my books, run a major charity fundraiser (we’ve raised over $1 million for diabetes research–my youngest son has this disease) and raise five kids.
First of all, I do it by taking care of myself.
Sometimes the hour I take out of my day for exercise seems like a waste. There are so many other things I want to do with that time. But I remind myself that if I’m healthy and have energy, I will be able to accomplish more in less time. And it’s true. If I get enough rest and exercise, I feel strong and capable, and it makes a big difference in my daily output.
Another sure-fire trick is to prioritize what must be done each day and to do the most important things first.
That may sounds like a no-brainer, and yet it’s so easy to let ourselves get diverted. If exercising every day is your goal, do it first thing in the morning. But if it’s more important to finish a certain project, start with that instead. Then, when the unexpected intrudes as the hours progress and the day begins to get away from you, you’ll still accomplish those things that are most important to you because they’ll already be behind you.
Keeping myself on an even emotional keel is another thing that really increases my productivity.
This isn’t always easy, of course. Problems crop up, sorrows intrude, accidents happen. But developing some type of inner peace helps you withstand the emotional buffeting that goes along with the bumps of life. Some people use meditation. Others read an inspiring story. Still others keep a gratitude journal. All of these are great techniques. Because I believe in a higher power, I simply close my eyes, take a deep breath, and “hear” these words, “Be still and know that I am God.” This usually brings me right back to my center, and if it doesn’t, I begin counting my blessings—taking a look at what I’ve got instead of what I don’t have.
And who doesn’t like killing two birds with one stone?
I print out pages from my current WIP and edit while I ride my Exercycle. I listen to research programs on True Crime TV while I clean house. I read my latest manuscript to my husband whenever he has to drive somewhere for work. And, probably the best thing I’ve done to date: I’ve hired an assistant. I thought this was something I shouldn’t allow myself – being raised by a frugal mother I felt as if I couldn’t justify such a luxury – but I’ve been able to extend my reach on so many fronts, thanks to this decision.
How do you increase your productivity? Do you agree that time management is more about balance than it is about working every minute? How do you make yourself take time out?
“Novak’s annual online auction for diabetes research is the largest online diabetes auction in the world and is held on her website every May. To date, she’s raised over $1 million for research. For the 2010 auction, her 6th, she raised $285,780.
She runs this fundraiser in honor of her youngest son, who was diagnosed with Type 1 at five years old, and the millions of others who suffer from diabetes. The proceeds to help find a cure will go to the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami.”