How to Plan Your Day to Get Shit Done | #AuthorToolboxBlogHop - CookieBreak Skip to content

How to Plan Your Day to Get Shit Done | #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

This is quite an exciting post for me, because one of my followers requested it on Instagram!

*blushes*

*feels so popular*

Since it’s the start of the year (sort of) and the decade, this is a good time to get organised and plan your day, so it fits January perfectly.

I’m an author and editor who is lucky enough to work from home full-time, but that doesn’t mean splitting my time is easy. My books are my love, so most days, I want to spend more time writing (and yes, even marketing!) than editing; however, editing is making the money and the reason I can do this, so how’s a girl to split her time? How’s a girl to prioritise – and stick to it?

There’s a summary at the end if you’d rather skip the bulk of this article.

How to Plan Your Day and Get Shit Done

How I split my day:

8am – 10.30am

I work on my books. That includes marketing, replying to emails, writing, editing, world building, and whatever else my books need at the time.

On Wednesdays, this time belongs to this blog and my author website.

10.30am – 12pm

This is the only time slot that changes depending on my work load. When I’m editing for three authors, I dedicate this 90-minute slot to one of them. When I’m editing for two authors but one needs a lot of work or has a tight deadline, this time becomes theirs.

When I don’t have additional editing work, this time goes to my books, too, but more often than not, it belongs to my authors.

12pm – 1pm

It’s really, really hard for me to remember to take breaks. There are days when I want to work through my break, but it’s important to remember that breaks are necessary.

I can’t help my authors or make progress on my WIPs if I burn out, so this slot isn’t negotiable. The mind might seem willing, but I can’t do a good job if I tire myself out. Me overworking myself doesn’t help anyone. We all do better work when we’re well-rested.

So, I spend this time in a way that helps me recharge. Usually, I go for a walk (with my newly discovered friend, the audio book) or read on the sofa. I put my phone away from me and turn it over so I don’t do anything work related for this one hour.

When that’s not enough to keep me away, I schedule my reading time with Forest App, which locks my phone and makes me feel like dirt when I kill the little virtual tree to check my emails. (You can read more about this in 4 Easy (and Fun!) Ways to Be More Productive)

1pm – 4pm

These three hours belong to my authors. Depending on how many authors I’m working for, all three go to one author or I split them between two authors into two 90-minute slots.

I rarely finish exactly at 4pm. If I’m in the middle of a paragraph or only have half a page left to finish a chapter, I finish the paragraph or the chapter. That’s just me though – if you’re happy to stop what you’re doing partway through a sentence, you do you!

My Bullet Journal

It’d be an oversight if I didn’t mention this here, because my bullet journal in combination with the above routine is the magic formula for me.

I write a weekly to-do list every Monday (sometimes the Friday before), and then I keep it somewhere I can see it every day. That way, I always have my goals in front of me and am much less likely to do other things.

And that’s all I do! I set my routine, and then I keep my eyes on my goals. It doesn’t sound like much – and it doesn’t take long to put something together! – but it’s all I need to stay focussed and get shit done.

Read all about How My Bullet Journal Helps Me Stay Organised and Sane.

How can YOU plan your day?

Time management can be hard, especially when we want to do more than we realistically have time for. I get it. I took a break from this very blog for that reason!

3 things you could look at are:

  • Your daily schedule

Write down what you do when – be as precise as you can – and examine where you already have gaps in your schedule and where you’re spending time on things you either don’t enjoy or could cut back on.

Obviously, you can’t cut back on your job whether you enjoy it or not, but if you have three hours every evening where you watch TV, maybe you could dedicate some of that time to your passion.

If you sleep for nine hours or more every night, maybe you can get up earlier and have extra time in the morning.

  • The time you need

Not the time you want, but the time you need to work on your passion.

We all want as much time as possible for the things we care about. Who doesn’t? I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t got carried away and abandoned my routine for one day to work on something I was excited about.

While you’ll reach you goal faster the more time you dedicate to it, your life might not accomodate for you to work on it full-time. But you don’t need to either.

Want to write a book? Make 30 minutes every day to write. It may not feel like much, but those words will add up!

And if you struggle with sticking to your self-imposed time slots, let’s boost your productivity.

  • Your self-care time

Spending time on yourself might feel like a waste at first, but consider this:

You won’t get anything done and you’ll feel like shit if you burn out.

I can’t stress this enough. If you want to be at your best, then you need to look after your body and your mind.

Figure out what you enjoy – there’s zero point in jogging three times a week if you loathe running! – and make time for it. This could be your lunch break, an hour after or before work – whatever works for you!

You need regular breaks to look after yourself. Trust me.

Now, this is super important:

Some days will be crap.

Everyone has days when they stare out the window and/or at their screen and just can’t find the motivation to do anything. Everything’s a chore, even getting up and moving to the sofa – let alone the guilt that comes with those days!

We all have days like that, my kitten.

I give you permission to take it easy on those days. Do whatever you need to recharge.

I know the guilt that comes with this all too well: I can’t take it easy – I have deadlines, I have people who count on me! What will they think?

But you can’t do your best work when you’re not at your best. Doesn’t your work – whether it’s something you do for yourself or for someone else – deserve your best? Sometimes the only way forwards is to slow down so you can propel yourself ahead another day.

Most of last week was like this for me. I eventually realised late on Wednesday that my usual routine doesn’t work in this awkward in-between time (I just had three days off for Christmas, I didn’t work on New Year’s Day, and I’m about to have two weeks off for my 30th birthday), so I adjusted.

I’m currently working until 12pm, and then I assess where I am. Can I do more or does that sound exhausting? How do I feel when I look at the screen with the intention of working?

Some days I do more, other days I take the afternoon off for necessary self-care.

If you’re employed somewhere, that’s obviously not an option, but you can still take it easier. Instead of getting up extra early to work towards your goal, working on your personal projects through your lunch break, and then putting in another hour before bed, set your WIP aside. Just go to work and know that your project will still be there when you feel better.

Now, I know several people who’ll frown when they read this and say, ‘I can’t do that, Sarina. I need to make progress.’

I get that too. But as I said above, breaks are necessary. It doesn’t matter how ambitious your daily schedule is (and I know that some people on Instagram pale when they see how much I give myself to do every week!) – when you burn out, you won’t get any of it done.

Is that an option? Is no progress and feeling like crap preferable to taking it easy one day and then smashing your goals the next?

Don’t be an idiot and push yourself regardless of all the warning signs. In the wise words of V.E. Schwab:

‘As a hyper-driven, self-employed, Type A creative Slytherin, it is really, really hard to accept that self-care isn’t an indulgence, it’s a necessity.

So, to summarise:

  • I split my days into mornings (time for my projects) and afternoons (time for my authors). On days where I’m close to finishing a project or job, or during times when I have more editing work, I adjust my priorities. Stick to your routine religiously, but be flexible when things change or need extra attention.
  • Daily routine + weekly to-do lists = my personal magic formula
  • Take a look at your daily schedule. Do you have any gaps? Where can you make time for your passion?
  • Be realistic. Spending five hours every day working towards your goals might be the dream, but if it’s not doable you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Half an hour three days a week might not sound like enough, but that’s 1 1/2 hours more than you’re spending right now!
  • Look after yourself. I know this is the step you’re most likely to want to skip, but don’t. Self-care is vital to a happy, healthy, productive you.
  • Accept that some days will be crap. Give yourself permission to read all afternoon, binge a show on Netflix, go for a long walk, or do whatever else helps you recharge on those days. We all have bad days. It’s okay.

How do you plan your day? What do you struggle with?

You might also like:

How to Plan Your Day and Get Shit Done | Further Reading: 4 Easy (and Fun!) Ways to Be More Productive
How to Plan Your Day and Get Shit Done | Further Reading: Get Organised and Set Goals You'll Stick To

Sign Up for Sarina’s Mailing List

Facebook Instagram Pinterest

Sarina’s Author Page

Published inA Writer's Musings

18 Comments

  1. Ruth Miranda Ruth Miranda

    I also divide my days between mornings and afternoons to work on different projects, but I don’t stick to a die-hard routine at all. Somedays my morning project bleeds into the afternoon because mornings are when I write, and there are days when all the words need to come out. I also have to tackle the school run, so there are days when I have to break off for my lunch break, then break off again an hour and a half later to get the kid and give him his lunch and what not; and then there are those days when he has lunch at school and I have to break off my work at three thirty pm for good. Those are the days I tend to pack up more and hardly even stop for lunch break, because I do feel guilty that I won’t be putting in any work after 3pm

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      Hmh. I’ve learned last week that it’s okay to keep a lighter leash on my routine. Some days just call for more flexibility! I always feel guilty when it comes to that, but it can’t be helped – some days are like that, and we can either adjust and get shit done or moan about it and get nothing done.

  2. Wonderful tips, Sarina! It can be hard to split your time, but figuring out what you need it definitely beneficial!

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      Thank you! I’d be lying if I said that the above works perfectly for me every day (I get distracted easily), but it’s a huge help in getting things done! I’d be lost without my routine and my to-do lists.

  3. Thank you for offering such an in depth look at your routine.
    For the time being I work a rather full day job, so often it’s just the one segment of writing effort during the weekdays, so I rarely have situations where I’m alternating between different types of tasks.

    That said, I find that while it’s good to have some specific and targeted items on the list, I also find it’s good to be somewhat flexible with myself.

    If I’m working on a story, and suddenly it feels like the gears are grinding, I try to compromise by saying “okay, let’s try working on a different writing item.” In some cases I will also take a break, but sometimes I find that certain projects reach a certain point and then they need to stew a little before returning to the page.

    I find there’s almost a mercurial aspect to writing (for me), where it helps for me to let myself be guided on what to work on (within the list).

    Of course there is also the idea of keeping track of how much time is spent in a given week or month on specific types of tasks. Lately I haven’t spent nearly as much time crafting and revising stories as I’d like, but at the same time I feel there are some other projects that I need to see completed for my own reasons, projects that (once completed) will free up some mental space, and serve as additional tools and resources for story writing, so for the time being I think it is the way.

    I think a lot of it comes back to finding that personal “balance” that’s slightly different for everyone. What others do give us ideas to try, but nothing is certain, except what seems to be working in the moment.

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      Finding that balance can be so hard, but it sounds like you’re doing great! I massively admire that you work full-time and still make time to write every day (when other projects don’t need your attention, which is fine too – only you know where to prioritise), because so many new writers fall at that hurdle.

      I need to get better at being more flexible and not being hard on myself when my daily routine gets jumbled up a little. It’s okay to prioritise differently some days. The important thing is that the work gets done, not which day I do it on. Unless there’s a tight deadline, of course.

      While I like seeing a percentage of how much time I’ve spent doing what every month, I don’t focus too much on it. That way lies over-obsession for me.

  4. Great blog post. I, too, am a scheduler. I would be lost without scheduling. I really enjoyed reading your ideas!

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      Thank you! ^-^ How do you schedule?

  5. I am a TERRIBLE planner, but I’m trying to get better this year. At least where my writing is concerned by setting aside time and days on which I focus on getting words done. The other times are focused on marketing. Still too early to tell if it will work or not, but I’m giving it a go.

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      That’s roughly the schedule I’m working towards! Writing either on two or three days or in the mornings, and marketing on the others or in the afternoons. That’d be my dream!

  6. Thanks for sharing such a detailed look into your schedule! You are so much more disciplined than I am, though I do know I need to firm up on my writing schedule as I tend to let myself slack off a bit too much sometimes! I really like how you split up your day. I may need to steal a few bits from you. πŸ™‚
    Great post!

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      Steal away, that’s what it’s there for πŸ™‚ The discipline is slipping a bit again (still in this awkward in-between time AND knowing I just have two more days, today included, before I’m off for two weeks – that never helps my productivity!), so I’ll move a few things around today, hopefully without feeling guilty. We’ve got this, Brigitte!

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      I like that! I’m working towards something like it. I already make tea first, but to just write after and then let things develop as they will? *sigh* One day.

  7. Three people reblogged my post today, and I don’t think I’ve ever had that many so close together, so I *also* feel popular today. πŸ™‚ I won’t get anything for the next probably, so I’ll bask in it whilst I can, haha. I really admire how you’ve got your day set up. It doesn’t feel like the time slots are broken up too much, so there’s time enough to dig into a project and then by the time that time slot is up, it’s probably kind of refreshing to look at something different. Am taking note! Thanks for writing this.

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      We’re both winning! πŸ˜€ It’s definitely refreshing to do something else once one time slot is up. I especially feel this with my editing jobs. I find I focus better when I have more than one rather than 3-4 1/2 hours for one book! Probably because I know there’s less time.

  8. Iola Iola

    I’m also a writer and editor, and my ideal daily schedule looks similar to yours. I use an app called Freedom to stop me checking email or social media during my client time.

    However, I’ve been offered a fixed term office contract, so that will mean finding a temporary different normal and ideal πŸ™‚

    • sarinalangerwriter sarinalangerwriter

      Congrats on the contract! I can be terrible with new routines, so I hope the transition is easy for you πŸ™‚

Get a tea and a cookie, and let's chat!

%d bloggers like this: