Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Improve Your Efficiency

As a writer and as an editor, I’m always trying to become more efficient. If I can handle a task with greater efficiency, then I will be able to accomplish a greater amount of work in the same amount of time.

Yesterday I began writing a bit from Kelly James-Enger’s book, Six Figure Freelancing, The Writer’s Guide to Making More Money (Random House Reference). Her book is loaded with practical how-to information for any writer—no matter where you are in your career and whether you write fiction or nonfiction.  Kelly has three major sections in her book which are keys to becoming a six figure freelancer: mind-set, efficiency and connections.

In this second section about efficiency, a writer can easily profit from a monthly reading of this section. If you do, you will tweak how you handle different parts of the writing life. Just consider the chapter titles in this section and it will show you some of what is contained in this book: No Need to Re-Create the Wheel: Designing Effective Writing Templates, No More One-Story Sales: Getting More out of Everything You Write and Watching the Clock: Time Management Techniques for Every Writer.

While every section is loaded with terrific insight, I want to highlight one of Kelly’s points. She calls it: Eliminate the Ugliest Tasks. “Most days, I’ve got at least one thing I don’t want to do. (Some bad days, many things I don’t want to do!) Maybe it’s revising an article, transcribing notes from an interview (ugh!), or making cold calls to potential new clients (double ugh). I’ve learned that if I don’t do these tasks first thing, I’ll fret about them all day until I finish them and check them off my list. That kind of anxiety makes me stressed and hurts my productivity. Now, I do my “ugliest” job first to give me the satisfaction of having finished it—and spare myself the mental anguish of worrying abut it all day. It’s surprising how much more time you can expend worrying about something compared to how little it takes to actually complete the dreaded chore.” (p. 191–192)

If you are like me, you’ve got several of those ugly tasks on your to-do list. It may be easier and more fun to tackle some easier deeds. I’ve got plenty of those things around me. I’ve learned the truth of tackling these ugly tasks early (or first according to Kelly), then pressing on to the other things that need to be done. Try it and it might change (or improve) one of your work habits.

1 Comment:

At 8:52 AM, Blogger Valerie A. Nelson Left a note...


I finished Kelly's book last week and also found that it was loaded with helpful practical tips. As someone who is currently in the process of expanding my freelance writing career, I find your site and Kelly's book extremely helpful. Thanks!


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