By June 16, 2014 Read More →

Use a To Do list and make every day count

Novelist Frances shares the secrets of her To Do list

To Do list - Frances EveshamI may have written a non-fiction book,

but I’m in awe of people who can write fiction!

Frances Evesham has just published

her first novel An Independent Woman

so I think she has plenty to tell us

about the good use of time.

Now that I write full-time, you’d think it would be easy to sit down and just – well – write. If only! The temptation to do anything else but write can be overwhelming. I must dust that lampshade before I face that winking cursor, and just look at that untidy shelf. Oops, now it’s time to shop and I haven’t added a single word.

I’ve had to take a long hard look at how I work from home. I now use many of the techniques I used in a former life as a project manager. They’ve taken a huge chunk of stress out of my life and I hope they help you as much.

My To Do list

You probably already write lists of things To Do. It’s tempting, isn’t it, to write a long list of things , start on one of them, finish it, cross it off and then move on to another? How often, though, do you get to the bottom of the list? Chances are, your lists, like mine used to be, are too long and not specific enough.

Here’s how to make your To Do list work harder for you.

1: Write a list in the usual way. Include work tasks as well as daily living jobs, like cooking dinner. List too long? Step Two will deal with that.

2: Grade each task. Anything that really, truly must be done today without fail (or your child will not have a costume for book week) is given an A.

B is for the things that you need to do by the end of the week. C is for things with a longer timescale.

For example, writing this post is a B task. Planning my next novel is a C.

3: Assign times to your tasks. Work out how long each task should take. Break big projects down into smaller chunks.

4: Schedule every A task in a slot for the day. Keep some time aside for coffee and lunch. Use leftover time for B projects and, if possible, something from your C list.

Here’s an example:
A 8.30 – 9.00: check emails and respond to each or put it in a folder
A 9.00 – 9.45: write blog post draft
A 9.45 – 10.00: coffee
A 10.00 – 10.30: clean kitchen
C 10.30 – 12.00: edit two chapters of current novel
A 12.00 – 1.00pm: lunch
B 1.00 – 1.30pm: revise, complete and post blog post
C 1.30 – 3.30pm: write brief plan for next novel
A 3.30 – 4.30pm: prepare dinner and drink tea
B 4.30 – 5.30pm: emails and social media
A 5.30pm: finish for the day.

5: Start work. At the end of the allotted time for a job, stop. Need more time? Reschedule it to later that day if it’s an A, or to the next day.

To Do list tips
1 If every task on your list is an A, you’re living on deadlines. That’s a sure way to stress yourself out. Add a new A task at the top of your list for today: make calls or send emails that turn some As to Bs. Ring your editor to negotiate a new deadline. Decide to eat beans on toast for tea. Be creative.

2 Interrupted? When you get back to your desk, take five minutes to rewrite your reschedule.

3 Prioritise everything. Don’t focus all your effort on the urgent tasks. Long term C plans may be more important. Devote at least some time each day to a C task.

4 Make your list before you go to bed. In the morning, you’ll have an outline ready to help you get started.

5 Decide which tasks need creativity and which are more focused. Put creative tasks when you’re at your peak – maybe late morning? I like to do admin, including social media, at the start and end of the day.

6 Sometimes, things just don’t work out. Your brain feels tired, you wish you’d never started the project and all you want to do is read that new Booker prize-winning novel. Use the freedom of working from home to do just that. Kick back, put your feet up and enjoy yourself. You’ll get back to work tomorrow feeling refreshed and raring to go.

work from home secrets

Frances Evesham collects Victorian trivia and grandsons, and loves tea, scones and Somerset. She’s been a speech therapist, a professional communication fiend and a road sweeper. Her Victorian mystery romance, An Independent Woman, has just been launched on Kindle.

Posted in: Routine

2 Comments on "Use a To Do list and make every day count"

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  1. Frances Evesham says:

    Thank you very much for welcoming me to your fantastic website, Judy. You’re the perfect example of a busy person managing to fit so much into your life and making to look easy!