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Monday, August 15, 2011

Fine-Tune Your Writing Vision

Some time ago I shared I was struggling with leaving my vacation time attitude, and moving back into the "workplace." I seriously struggled and no matter what, lists, deadlines or looming financial disaster (okay, so that is a little stretch), I could not make myself work.

However I soon found the root cause of this "funk" ...and none too soon... it was the lack of focus and vision. I had so many projects to work on, all with pending deadlines and I couldn't make time to finish even one! Until I was able to pull back, analyze my work load and make a plan, was I able to gain clarity and tackle the project one thing at a time.

Maybe you are a ball-juggler and like to have several projects going at once. I am one of *those* types of people. However, knowing which job to pick and put down is very important. I often run many things in my head at once and until I stop and take the time to write it down, it normally remains there.

Here are five keys to finding a focus and re-gaining your vision:

1. De-Clutter:
      While a messy desk may be the sign of a creative mind it wastes so much time! I recently de-cluttered my entire office, shelves, desk drawers, table tops and more and found so many things I had lost or misplaced months ago.

2. Organize
     If you clean and declutter and go back to your old way of doing things the same thing will happen. I have so much paper and often there are piles around my office. Now I've organized each group into specific places. This system is working well for me and helps contain the paper-monster piles.

1. Something I'm not finished with, but doesn't need my attention for awhile, goes into a folder and into a small holder beside my desk.
2. Work in progress into a notebook, sometimes with hole-punch and other times paper clipped (large ones) for easy flipping through. This works great for manuscripts that I'm reviewing, for example I have a final draft of the new Information in a Nutshell Book, "Taxes and Tips for Writer's" by Carol Topp sitting in a notebook at my desk waiting for ONE (hopefully) last set of eyes. (Book is due for pre-release in September.)
3. Important: This is pinned to one of my three bulletin boards. (Did you know I was a teacher?) Sticky notes for things to take care of and then discard, and more important to-do's are pinned on the board.
4. Completed project into a file and drawer.

3. Prioritize
     I'm open to suggestions on this one. I consider just about everything a NOW job! For example I am hosting several webinars and while hosting one I am taping behind the scenes sessions and planning and scheduling the next webinar. My list of to-do grows at this time and only with help can I accomplish everything in a timely fashion. Obviously a schedule is of major importance and the event schedule takes precedence over other deadlines. Which brings us to the next point...

4. Set Deadlines
I've found that I can work best under a deadline so I try to give each project a projected finish date. This has worked well and now with some help I am finding this to be a valuable aid. Having a mid-point date to re-evaluate is my goal, and would be wonderful, however I am not at that point. At least at this writing.

5. Celebrate
    All work and no-play makes Jane dull...and even if my name isn't Jane I've become dull at times. Racing to one deadline, only to begin another is seriously a recipe for disaster. I need time to regroup with my family, take a break and turn my computer off. Hibernate does not count! Taking time to celebrate the big and little events are a great way to get your focus back.

Whatever ways work for you, I hope you will share your successes here with me. What has worked for you and how do you handle one or more of the issues that plague even the most organized writers?

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