Friday, 11 January 2013

Top Time Saving Tips!

Thank you for the fantastic response to my ‘Planning Ahead’ post last Friday – in which we discussed our personal goals for 2013. It seems to me, that while most of us enjoy planning ahead and setting targets – we all worry about finding the time in our busy lives to actually achieve those goals.

I’m certainly guilty of letting time slip away from me by procrastinating and giving priority to other things when I really should be sitting at my desk writing. So I did a shout out on Facebook  and Twitter for all your ‘Time Saving Tips’ for today’s blog post – and I received some incredibly valuable practical tips and workable strategies to help better manage time. I’ve listed them below.

I also approached Grace Marshall – Head coach, chief encourager, author and productivity ninja - who is passionate about helping busy people make the most of their time and their talents. Grace says she's not a naturally organized person. She doesn't believe there is such a thing as ‘perfect work/life balance’ or in trying to ‘find more time.’ Instead, she's learned how to get stuff done in a way that works with her personality, lifestyle, and commitments.

I asked Grace to help me with my procrastination and this is what she advised:

Grace Marshall - Productivity Ninja!

1. Decide when you’re going to start writing and commit to it.

Give yourself 15 minutes before to get your space in order, and decide what absolutely needs to be in place during that time, (e.g. pen, paper, laptop, cup of tea) and what can wait until later (e.g. laundry, tax form, phoning the bank). Use a timer if you need to.

2. Keep a tangent log

Sometimes our biggest distractions do not come from our external environment, but from inside our heads, when our brains come alive with ideas, thoughts, and reminders that have nothing to do with the task at hand.

Keep a separate notebook next to you for anything that comes to mind unrelated to your writing. Every time you go off on a tangent write it down - every thought, reminder and idea. This way, you don’t have to keep remembering and you know you can come back to it later. Capture the thought, get it out of your head and can keep it free to write.

This is taken from my book, 21 Ways to Manage the Stuff That Sucks Up Your Time, a little book that is packed with simple, practical tips and techniques you can put to use straight away, to help you manage the stuff that sucks up your time, and have more time for what really matters.


You can Follow Grace on Twitter @GraceMarshall

I did a shout out on Facebook  and Twitter for your ‘Top Time Saving Tips’ and here are some great suggestions:

@helen_kara - Helen is an independent business researcher who has also written a book on time saving tips. She advocates: “Back up everything you produce on a computer every day – is it worth saving one minute of your day when you risk losing days or weeks or months of work?”

@Jean_bull – Jean says:  “To save time, my idea is to glance at emails on my iPhone, deal with the urgent ones and then crack on with the writing.”

@fishsoupwriting  - Michelle says: “I do all my novel and short story writing on a laptop with no internet connection. I don't have FB or Twitter to distract me.”

@Harrietgrace65 - Harriet suggests: “Set dead-lines to achieve a certain amount of writing by a certain date – seems to work for me!”

Sue Johnson at The Writer’s Tool Kit I write a monthly 'wish list' of 20 things I want to achieve with my writing in that time (it helps to maintain focus) carry a notebook everywhere and have pen and paper in every room in the house. I always plan my next writing session before I finish for the day.”
Kristal Baird writes romance novels for Xcite Romance and also has a full time day job: Kristal says: “Having a big dog who can't see the point of anything less than a couple of hours romp over the fields or in the woods - I came up with the solution of "writing" into a digital recorder as I walk. Best done in a relatively quiet spot, unless you really don't give a hoot. And you have to allow for the heavy breathing (quite atmospheric really)!”
JB Johnson at Brook Cottage Book Blog says Have folders for everything on your computer rather than having to spend ages searching for stuff. And LISTS!!! I cannot survive without lists! I cross of jobs so that I don't end up repeating the same jobs.”

KitDomino – Kit, writer and editor says: My tip: Strict discipline as to time spend on Twitter and Facebook - both big time suckers.”

@WellsNicky – Nicky, rock star writer: says “Here's my three big ones. 1) lists and priorities. 2) if you're meant to write, write. Don't go on social media. 3) 'the one touch' rule: if you've opened an email/tweet/FB message and read it, ACT on it. Don't leave it until later and duplicate your effort.”

My own tip – and this is something that fits in nicely with Grace’s tip of using a timer. Apparently, you can only work effectively and totally concentrate one task in blocks of 40 minutes. This is why, at schools, the classes are based on periods of 40 minutes. I downloaded Pomodairo a desktop timer that can help with productivity. So I’ve set it to 40 mins (if interrupted, I can pause the timer button) and an alarm will sound when my session is up. The idea is to take a 15 minute break before beginning another session.

I’ll let you know how I get on and would love you to do the same!

Do leave a comment here on the blog or on my author Facebook page or tweet me at @JaniceHorton. Good luck!



Jean Bull said...

Thanks for all the wonderful top tips, Janice! I will try harder to be more productive!

Janice said...

Me too Jean! Thanks for your lovely comment.

Sheryl Browne said...

I'm loving the idea of a timer. Would a spin off be that your family might notice that you are 'on the clock'? :)

Great post, Janice. Thanks for the tips! xx

Joan Fleming said...

This is a great idea, Janice. Note to self: act on them!

Kit Domino said...

Some great tips here. Love the one about using a timer. Must give that one a try!

Nicky Wells said...

Great post, Janice, and thanks for quoting me *blush*

I totally hear the 40-minute work cycle thing. The big challenge is not to get distracted with other tasks while you take the five minute break, LOL! Thanks for sharing all these tips. x

Joanna (Lazuli Portals) said...

Thanks for all the wisdom, Janice and Grace! I agree social media is a time-sink. I'll be checking out Pomodairo, which is not something I've heard of before. :)

Kim The Bookworm said...

Hi Janice, great post! I was gobsmacked when I read Grace's book. It made me sit back and think "Yep! I do that!" at a lot of things. I have put quite a few of the things I've learned into practice and it has definitely make a difference to me. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you'd like to read my review of it (I'm sure Janice won't mind me posting this) you can do so here at

Melanie said...

Great tips, Janice and everyone. I think Grace's book 21 ways... would be a great addition to any writer's library.

Gwen Kirkwood said...

I'm a list person but I have a timer which goes around my neck for when I'm working in the garden etc and multi tasking. I never thought of using it for writing, or for 40 minutes at a time of real productivity. Thank you. We learn something new everyday

Anonymous said...

These are excellent ideas!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Wonderful advice - thanks Janice and everyone who contributed! Grace's tangent idea might be the best thing I ever follow.

myraduffy said...

Now all I have to do is put some of these excellent ideas into practice!

Janice said...

Thanks for all your wonderful comments - and thanks to Grace for inspiring us to all be our own Productivity Ninjas!

I'm certainly going to give Grace's advice a try and to make a habit out of working that way over the next few weeks as I race to my deadline for 'Voodoo Wedding'.

I'm finding the Pomodairo timer useful in helping me to focus - but I'm amazed how quickly that 40 mins comes around.

Yes, Nicky, I must not use the break between timed sessons to procastinate!

Kim - thank you so much for providing the link to your review on Grace's book.

Janice xx

Paula Martin said...

What a great list of tips! Many thanks for compiling them, Janice! I like the idea of a digital recorder as often my brain is working much faster than my fingers. I get ideas for parts of conversations etc, and then when I get to that part, I've forgotten what my thoughts were!


Fab post! I love it and shall be taking some of this advice on board. x

Janice said...

Hi Paula - yes, I like the idea of the recorder too, as I often get ideas for dialogue just as I'm about to drop off to sleep at night.

Thanks JB - and good luck - as you are one of the busiest people I know!

Janice xx

Linn B Halton and Lucy Coleman said...

Some great ideas - I probably need to follow the all and then I won't arrive late ha! ha! Just saw that you have been called up for Jury duty - as they say 'expect the unexpected'. My one big tip is 'a stitch in time saves nine. I interpret that as anything that's simple to do and get out of the way, do it first. You feel you can cross off a lot of little things. Then NEXT tackle the first thing you don't want to do. Then you are left with everything in the middle and life won't seem so bad!

Janice said...

Thanks for the tip, Linn - as you are a skilled juggler of tasks - I'm sure it's a well tried and tested one!

Yes, I'm all Victor Meldrew today (I can't believe it!!) as I'm trying to be all productive while on deadline and have now been selected for jury duty. I'm not best pleased as you can imagine!

Janice xx

Stephanie Bisby said...

Great tips. I'm a fan of timed sessions, but for a lot of things I find even less than 40 minutes works well. I often use Mark Forster's system from 'Get Everything Done and Still Have Time to Play' which uses 5, 10 and 15 minute bursts switching between tasks until they're done. Works for me as generally I have the attention span of a goldfish with ADD!

Anonymous said...

Great suggestions! I have a set time that I write during each day and that seems to work well for me. Loving these other suggestions!

Janice said...

Thanks Stephanie C - I think the shorter timed sessions might work well with the housework!

Stephanie Keyes - I have found I now work better in the mornings when a year ago I would have worked better in the evening. I must be getting old - lol!!

Thanks for your lovely comments.

Janice xx

Skye Evans said...

Useful tips shared. I learned a lot of new ways of saving money.
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