Creating a realistic schedule when you have no boss

Last Friday marked the official end of my high school career. For many students this marks time to go to college or starting a full time job. For me it means the opportunity to work on my writing full time. There will likely come a day where I choose to seek full time employment or further education, but for the next few months I’m going to be entirely focused on doing what I love.

Or, should I be lacking in discipline, it will mean the least productive period of my entire life. As many authors and entrepreneurs have learned before me, controlling your own schedule can be quite perilous. When you have all day, it’s easy to think a few minutes on the phone and one TV show won’t completely derail your days but soon it turns into an hour on the phone and several TV shows, and your day is gone.

Creating a schedule is much like setting your yearly goals: you need to focus on moving forward, but you can’t take on too much at once or you’ll end up overwhelmed and unable to do half the things you set out to do.

Remember that everyone works differently, and that your schedule should take into consideration how you work best. I’m always groggy when I wake up, so I prefer to do lighter work such as outlining or even cleaning, and save the heavy writing for a couple hours after I wake up. Other people like to do their heaviest work in the morning, and lighter tasks in the afternoon.

The key is to make sure that you are making concrete progress towards your goals each and every day, and that you work hard. Being able to create your own schedule doesn’t mean you should work less–in fact, when you’re just starting out, you should probably be working more–but it does mean you choose when those hours are. If you need a two hour break in the middle of the day, take it, but make sure you always go back to your desk.

My approach with this is to spend five hours a day, every day, working towards the writing career I’ve always wanted to. I will dedicate one hour every day to looking for work, one to social media, and three to the various book length projects I’m working on. That’s the amount of time I’m spending in school every day now, and it’s enough to make concrete progress on my goals. Once I’ve found some regular writing assignments, those will be incorporated into the three hours of writing I do each day, but the time will not increase because I don’t want to risk burning myself out.

However you decide to organize your schedule, make sure you write it down every day and regularly assess what’s working and what isn’t. Keep track of when you meet your goals, which days are hard and what makes it easier to accomplish your day’s tasks. Try different things until you find the perfect schedule, but remember that any schedule takes time to adjust to and that the important thing is how much work you get done, not when you do it.

Make it your goal to increase productivity every month by building upon your routine and working smarter. Learn as much as you can about your craft and about the business aspect of writing, and work towards your dream every day. If you miss a day, don’t get upset; just start over and never give up your goals.

I’m doing everything in my power to make this my best and most productive year yet, and you should do the same. Let’s have a great year together, and come out the successful writers we’ve always wanted to be.