Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Time Management Tuesday: Know What You're Just Not Going To Do, And Don't Do It

Once  upon a time, long, long, long ago, I worked in an office for three extension professors. I was their lackey, to be perfectly honest, and I always had way more lackey work to do than I had time.

We would have meetings in which one professor or another, or sometimes all three, would get all excited about this project or that, and one professor or another, or sometimes all three, would say things like, "Why don't you get started on that, Gail." We'd all go our separate ways, I'd "get started on that" and never hear about it again.

I've never made any claims to be brilliant, but I'm not stupid, either. Eventually, I learned to guess which projects they were asking me to work on that they would never follow through on, and I just didn't do them. Not because I was a layabout, but because I just couldn't. I had to do all the things that they were going to follow through on, and there was too much of that, as it was. I cannot recall ever running into any problems because I've my decision-making. In fact, I even told one of the professors I did it. What upset him was not that I was doing it, but that I could do it--that they were coming up with plans they weren't following through on and doing so in such a way that I could predict what they weren't going to do.

Predicting what we're not going to do is something we should be doing for ourselves.

A case in point: Last year I had this exciting plan to start an environmental blog to help market the Saving the Planet & Stuff eBook. It was going to be set-up as if it were the official blog of The Earth's Wife, the environmental  magazine in the book, and it was going to be written in the voice of Walt Marcello, one of the characters. He is not a stereotypical environmentalist, and he has a strong voice with a push-the-envelope sense of humor. I was going to have him comment on environmentally-related news stories and there would be a blog roll of environmental websites. It would be easy, I thought, because I wouldn't update more than once a week or so, and, because I would be using recent news stories for content, I wouldn't have to do much research. It was going to be marvelous. People would love it. I would have lots of readers, and, as a result, sell lots of eBooks.

Well, fortunately it took us longer than expected to publish STP&S, giving me time to become more rational about that plan. First off, the likelihood of any new blog getting much attention these days isn't very great, forget about it developing a big following. Just as there are more books being published than the market can bear, there are more blogs being published than blog readers can read. There's way, way too much competition now in almost every subject. So that would be a big strike against that project. In addition, I already spend a lot of time on this blog, more than most writers do. (I don't consider myself a writer who has a blog. I am a writer and a blogger.) Updating nearly every day with sometimes short essay-length material is a lot. In addition, I'm already maintaining a second blog at Goodreads. (I just discovered I can link to my individual blog posts there from outside, though you may have to belong to Goodreads to read them. Don't know about that.) That blog is only updated 2 or 3 times a month, but still, I am already maintaining two blogs.

A third blog would take up valuable time and energy without providing me with much benefit, since I couldn't seriously expect many more readers. This was definitely a case where I could predict that I either wasn't going to follow through with this project, or I was going to follow through in a poor manner. I decided not to do it.

However, some of what I wanted to do with that new blog I can do here, which is why you can now see an Environmental Sites & Author Blogs section on my blog roll. Once a week I'll be doing environmental posts that fit in in some way with writing and/or reading. We'll see if this has much impact on the marketing of Saving the Planet & Stuff.  At the very least, it will be far, far more time and energy efficient for me than starting and maintaining an entirely separate blog.

So maybe what this Time Management Tuesday post should have been called is Know What You're Just Not Going To Do, Don't Do It, And Do Something Else Instead.

1 comment:

Jeff Rivera said...

It's so true, sometimes we get ourselves into more than we can actually handle, or just more than we generally want. Juggling can be a little too difficult with too many items in your hands. I look forward to more posts from you!