Monthly routines to save time

Some things, like checking email and social media, are best done in small bursts every day. It’s easier to do a little bit of cleaning every day than it is to do all your cleaning at once. Still other things are easy to ignore for months, and yet become monumental tasks when you finally face them.

Every year, I spend the first couple months paying careful attentions to these things. I carefully organize my life in January and February, and things soon fall apart as I get overwhelmed by everything in my life that isn’t writing. But this year I will be finishing school and be able to focus on my writing full time for the first time, and I’m determined to make every day count so that I can make a healthy living off my craft.

I’ve realized that by spending just a few days a month focused on specific tasks, I can make every month almost stress free. The great thing is that you can too, even if you only get two days off a week. Spending one day on each of these tasks will make every month happier and more productive:

1. Plan blog posts&social media posts– even having a basic outline for your next several blog posts and a couple posts scheduled a week using Hootsuite can take a load of pressure off your back. If you can fully draft your blog posts and schedule them in advance you’ll feel even better, and be able to set up promotions for each post in advance. Of course, you can always swap order of posts and throw in new ones after these are written, but having them finished in advance is a big stress reliever. I’ve done this before, but the key is to make it a monthly routine instead of an occasional thing.

2. Organize your work area– if you’re anything like me, you usually have three or four large projects going on at any given time, and you’re often too tired by the end of a writing session to properly clean up your work area. This includes not remembering to put documents in the correct folders on your computers. Take one day a month to organize your work area and computer for maximum efficiency, and get rid of unnecessary papers and computer documents on this day.

3. Plan your next month– at the end of every month, it’s important to take a look at what you accomplished last month and what you hope to accomplish this year to build your goals for next month. Take a look at your calendar and write in any obligations you already know you’ll have so you can establish how much time you should have to work on your writing goals. I usually write out two lists on this day, one of writing goals and one of non-writing goals, and schedule my writing time for the first week of the month in more depth. Knowing what you’re supposed to do on any given day is a relief when you’re already exhausted and need a reminder to get you on track.

Don’t forget to take into account how much time each of your projects will take when you’re planning out the month, leaving a little room for error, so you don’t overload yourself and end up burnt out by the next month or failing to meet your goals.

By taking three days a month to focus on these tasks you will make your entire month, every month much less stressful. Spending several hours one day a month focusing on these things is far better than trying to spend a few minutes on them every night when you’re exhausted from work and want to focus on your novel if you do anything at all. Remember that if you want to succeed in our highly competitive world, you need to maximize every moment you have to write, and it can be more easily done by focusing on one thing at a time.