I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Successful Days

Planning is a taste that I had to acquire. I've never been crazy about it. Mostly because I believed that it somehow zapped spontaneity. That was before I started my own writing business. Now I think that spontaneity is overrated. If I spend more time writing things I get paid little or nothing to write—not matter how much fun it might be, my business will fail. The further I've gotten into this venture, the more I've realized that I needed a specific plan that is multifaceted.

I need one plan that tells me how much work I need to get done each day on the projects I have due to editors. I have another plan that breaks down my work day based upon what I've learned about my work habits. I write best early in the day, so if I'm under contract (like I am right now) to write a book, I first work on my planned book quota (page-count or word-count, depending upon the project) for that day. Articles, paperwork, e-mail, and various other duties are handled in the afternoon when I don't need as much energy.

I've really been in the groove this past week—cranking out my page quota each morning on the book I'm writing and even making specific plans about the material I'll include in the book the following day when I sit down to write. I'm keeping up better with my other projects in the afternoon and early evening than I ever have and it's largely because I've discovered a schedule that maximizes my efficiency and I'm following it. For the past week or so, I've really felt like I've had a string of "successful days."

But that caused me to wonder about the definition of "successful." I don't think the days were successful because I got a lot of work done, but instead, because I got the work done that needed to be done in order to keep my business on track. But how will I feel if a family situation arises that pulls me away from my schedule? Will I still consider the day to be successful? I'm trying to incorporate a plan that includes buffers—which means I'm trying to be realistic about my goals each day while leaving extra time in case something else does need my attention—because invariably something will.

Just last week, one of my friends underwent surgery. I knew that I wanted to visit her in the hospital and I wanted to actually take a little time away from work to spend with her husband, whom I've been good friends with for years. I followed my normal routine that morning and by lunch time I had hit my page quota for my book project. The rest of things on my work agenda could wait until the next day—so I took the afternoon off, ate lunch with my friend and was able to visit my other friend, his wife, in the hospital that evening. That too, and maybe especially, was a successful day.

In fact, oddly, the more I plan, the more time I have for other things. I would have never thought that to be the case, but then again, I've never been the most organized person you'll ever meet. That's starting to change though and I'm enjoying the benefits. It has even changed the way I define "successful day." Formerly, I would have considered accomplishing a bunch of tasks in one day to be the definition of a successful day. Now I consider accomplishing the necessary, and good things (like being available for friends), to be the definition of a successful day.

But what about when my plans go awry and I'm not able to accomplish any of the necessary or good things I'd hoped? I'm still working on that—but I'm starting to think that embracing the challenges of each day, sorting through them all, and then doing the things that need to be done while letting everything else go until another day will be good enough.


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