Block your time and squeeze in more writing.
Do you struggle to carve out time for your book project? The everyday demands of work, loved ones, and responsibilities can keep even the most determined author away from the keyboard.
Learn how to time block and take control of your writing schedule.
Time blocking means dividing your day into chunks, or “blocks,” of time and assigning specific tasks to each block. It allows you to prioritize important work and create space for deep focus.
How can you, a busy writer, take advantage of this organizational strategy? Here are some best practices to set you up for success.
How to Block Your Time
To create your new calendar, begin with a list of everything you do—your job, your social commitments, time spent with loved ones, exercise, cooking, etc. Evaluate your list and place each task into a specific block of time.
Some tasks must happen during a certain block. Maybe your boss wants you at work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Other activities, like writing your manuscript, can fit around these immovable blocks of time. Here’s an example of what a writer’s time block calendar might look like:
A few things to notice about this calendar:
- The days don’t all look the same. You’ll probably have items that only happen once or twice per week, and they’ll change the schedule of that day.
- It’s color-coded. While you don’t technically have to do this, it makes the calendar easier to read at a glance and gives a better overview of what you spend the most time on.
- The blocks of time are large. Fifteen minutes here and there might seem like an easy way to fit more in, but your brain takes time to shift tasks and refocus. You’ll get more done if you allow yourself to get into “deep work” mode.
- The day starts early. You may not need to start your day at 5 a.m. You may choose to block more of your evening hours and less in the morning. The point is, you must be realistic about the amount of time your tasks will take. You may not be able to keep your calendar to eight or ten hours per day if you add regular writing time on top of a job, a commute, family responsibilities, volunteering, and other hobbies.
Do’s and Don’ts of Time Blocking
Make time blocking work for your project. These pro tips will help you make the most of this system.
- Do write regularly. You can’t ignore your manuscript for two months and then cram 50 hours of writing into one week of vacation. As you work on your book, you’ll gradually gain a stronger understanding of its message and how it should be organized. You don’t get that kind of creative marinade if you write your project in a few massive sessions.
- Do write at a consistent time. Try to keep your writing blocks to the same times each week if possible. Your brain adjusts to your schedule. When it senses that a particular time or setting is always writing time, it will begin to put itself into writing mode on schedule.
- Do protect your writing blocks. Treat them like mandatory appointments as much as possible. It might be tempting to schedule a meeting during your writing block “just this once,” or to respond to interruptions from family and friends. But if you don’t treat your writing time as sacred, the rest of your schedule will chip away at it. Let family and friends know that this time is spoken for.
- Do find a distraction-free writing location. Choose a spot in your home or favorite coffee shop where you can always go during your writing block. If you’ll be away from home, decide ahead of time on where this block will take place, even if it’s just the desk in your hotel room.
A few things can derail your best time-blocking efforts. Watch out for these pitfalls:
- Don’t forget to block time for planning. Blocking out your calendar takes some thought. When will you have time to prepare next week’s schedule? Find a block and go for it!
- Don’t schedule writing blocks at a low-energy time of day. If you get drowsy early in the evening, an 8 p.m. writing block is a recipe for disaster. Try first thing in the morning. If you can barely keep your eyelids up after lunch, don’t expect to write brilliant prose starting at 1 p.m. Wait until you’ve had your late afternoon snack and a brisk walk.
- Don’t procrastinate. Time blocks won’t work if you don’t start the appointed task at the appointed time. No matter how productive your calendar looks, your actions determine your true productivity.
Get More Done With a Writing Coach
If you’re struggling to make progress on your manuscript, The Book Professor® can help. We guide authors through the process of writing nonfiction books that bring inspiration, hope, and help to others. Our curriculum schedule helps you complete your project in bite-sized steps, and our supportive MASTERMIND groups help hold you accountable to get the work done. Contact The Book Professor® today and watch your writing project take off.