Scheduling: How to find the time to write in 5 easy steps

You’re busy – I get it! Sometimes it feels that your daily schedule so jam-packed full of activities that it’s impossible to write. But in reality, it won’t be. There will always be nooks and crannies that you can use to do some writing – or do something that contributes to your writing goal. You just need a way to find this time and that’s where scheduling or ‘time blocking’ using our traffic light method can really help.

Writing routines beat willpowerTime blocking or scheduling isn’t the most sexy of topics I’ll admit.

But if you want to get it written, you’ll need to find your own method to help you identify the gaps in your day to get down to work.

For us, time blocking is all about being realistic and pragmatic about what you can achieve in any given day and never feeling bad about what you can or can’t do.

Remember, writing guilt is one of the most harmful and damaging thing any writer can feel so whatever method you use – the key thing is to banish the bad feelings.

Time blocking and scheduling

Now, there will always be times in your week that you definitely won’t be able to write – of course.

But there will also be times when you might be able to do some writing – and other times that you definitely can write.

You just need to find them – here’s one method that might help!

Protect yoru writing times

The traffic light system of scheduling

  • There will RED times in your day that you’ll never be able to write. You might be at work or college or need dedicated family time. There will be other time when you’re just exhausted or asleep! Now accept that you won’t be able to write at these times and don’t beat yourself up about it.
  • There will be AMBER times in your day that might not be ideal for writing – you might have distractions or be feeling a little tired – but you can still do some useful work at those times. You’re probably not firing on all cylinders but you might be able to plan, research, edit, or free write to generate ideas.
  • There will be GREEN times in your day when you are on tip top form and have clear time to write. You might not have many of these times but importantly, you need to guard these slots like a hawk. If you really truly want to write, these green times are your sacred writing times and need to be protected at all costs.

5 easy steps towards scheduling success

> Take action

  1. Grab your diary for the week and block out all the red times you definitely cannot write. You can colour the slots in red or put a big cross in the box! Whatever works… Now forget about these times – you’ll never be able to write in them so stop trying. (Are you feeling relieved already? Good, that’s the idea!)
  2. Okay so what’s left? Are there any writing opportunities in there? If not, you need to find some! Can you reschedule other tasks to free up time? What can you stop doing or delegate?
  3. Now, find the slots that you might be able to write in – these are your amber times. You can colour the boxes in yellow – or perhaps write a question mark! Remember, these won’t be perfect times but you will be able to achieve something.
  4. Now, you need to find your ‘go for your life’ green times. Go through the scheduler and colour these boxes in green or put a big tick in the box! These are times you definitely will be able to write. Try to find one green time every day – however brief. Just 5-10 minutes of clear time is good enough.
  5. Lastly – you commit to your schedule. Add your writing slots to your calendar like any other appointment. Tell your partner, friends, family, and colleagues – sharing is super important to keep you motivated.

Remember:

If you’ve found your red, amber and green writing times you’ve come really far already.

Having a schedule is really important to give you a system. It means that instead of having to find the time to write every day you know when to write – and the whole process becomes easier.

Read more secrets of writing productivity:

Keeping focus: How to kill your procrastination gremlins for good >>

Accountability: How to keep writing using rewards and people pressure >>

Tracking: How to use reflection to optimize your writing routine >>

Writing goals: How to achieve your big writing dream in small steps >>

Routines: Why writing systems beat willpower – every time >>

Chris Smith About the author: Co-founder and writer in residence at Prolifiko | Ex-philosophy lecturer | maker of unpopular short comedy films.