Guiding yourself to the completion of your book is no easy task. Procrastination is every writer’s worst enemy and it can rob you of publishing success (not to mention an income). If you are having trouble staying on track, here are 6 tips for meeting your deadlines.
Appoint a Boss
When you are working on a project by yourself, it’s way easier to avoid your responsibilities because you’re only accountable to yourself. A great strategy for meeting any deadline is to appoint someone that you have to be accountable to. You can do this whether you have the budget for it or not.
If you do have some money to spend, you can hire a boss for yourself. We haven’t seen any services that fit this bill but you can certainly find services that might work. For example services like Task Rabbit connect people looking to make some extra money with those that have tasks. Of course it may be a challenge to find the exact right person to motivate you but it may be a good place to start.
Here are some other services you can try:
Again most (if not all) of these services may not be the best fit for the task of keeping you on track but they are good starting points. You may just find someone who can really help you meet your deadlines.
For the rest of us on a budget of free, try and find someone who cares as much about your success as you do and ask if they will help keep you on track. Remember that this is simply a person who will hold you accountable for what you are supposed to be doing already. For example this could be:
- A friend
- A relative
- A co-worker
- A fellow writer/publisher
Give this person an outline as to what you want to accomplish and when it needs to be done by. Ideally you will want someone who isn’t afraid to dog you when you don’t meet your deadlines but that can also offer steady, consistent and positive encouragement.
Break Up Your Project
If you are just starting out on your book and you have pretty much everything to do, don’t think of it in terms of one large task. Instead break it up into smaller more manageable tasks that can be completed over time. For example you have one book to write and market. How long will that entire project take (roughly)? So what do you need to do throughout next week to accomplish that long-term goal? What do you need to do over the course of next month? The next six months?
When you can focus on a smaller part of the overall project, the whole thing becomes much less intimidating. This concept is similar to Agile Project Management where one large task is broken into an iterative process. Components are finished in blocks of time until the whole thing is eventually complete. This makes big tasks much more manageable and much less stressful.
Set Goals (On Paper)
- It helps you clarify what you want.
- It’s motivating.
- It will make your progress (and your challenges) tangible. There’s something satisfying about crossing a goal off your list because you’ve accomplished it.
Don’t be too broad here either. For example a goal like “finish my manuscript by the end of the month” is not a good one. When you set broad goals like that two things usually happen.
- You don’t meet them
- You get down on yourself for not meeting them
Instead, make your goals specific, visual and attainable goals. For example a much better goal would be “I’m going to get my manuscript into eBook format and submit it to at least 3 retailers in the next 30 days“. When goals are foggy or when you don’t outline exactly how you will accomplish them, it’s easier to get discouraged when you cannot complete them.
Tell Everyone About Your Deadline
This can be challenging if you are an experienced procrastinator because you know if you tell a bunch of people something and don’t follow through, you look bad. Against all your better instincts, tell people about your deadlines. Tell people on your social networks about it. Tell your book clubs, your entrepreneur groups, anyone who would hold you accountable. This makes you invested in actually completing your deadlines. It can be very motivating to know you might let others down if you don’t succeed.
Take the time to stay organized. Set aside 15 minutes every day and make sure you have all of your notes organized, all of your finished goals saved somewhere or whatever it is you need to do. Large projects like writing a book can easily become an organizational mess. As painful as it might be, take the time to do the things you need to do to keep the data clutter down.
Writing a book can be a stressful and overwhelming process. Some days it may feel like you have not accomplished much (even though you probably have). It is during those times when you should remember to enjoy life. Take a break and walk away from your work for a little while. This is especially helpful if you are having writer’s block or some other kind of obstacle in your writing.