One of the questions I am asked frequently by writers of all stages is how to balance writing and marketing with the demands of real life. Woo, is that a tough question! The struggle is real!
It’s definitely something I’ve been working on in my own life. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about FOCUS and the creative person’s tendency to get distracted by OMGALLTHESHINIES and/or procrastinate important tasks in favor of watching nerdy historical videos on Youtube (not that I do that *shifty eyes*).
This week, as I was watching my husband teach a ballet partnering class and repeatedly tell an inexperienced dancer to look where she wanted to go (in this case, UP!), it hit me.
Balance is all about FOCUS.
If we’re constantly looking around and trying to go a bunch of different directions at once (I call this shiny squirrel syndrome…it’s a thing), we will spin in circles and fall on our face. BUT, if we actually focus consistently on where we want to go and what we want to do, we might actually make progress toward our dreams—and feel much less frazzled in the process.
Sometimes more isn’t always better. I’m always over-thinking things. Making them more complicated than they have to be. Or letting myself get caught up in the details instead of focusing all my efforts on what will move the needle most in my writing life and business.
Sound familiar? So, how do we learn to focus and achieve better balance in our lives?
For me, the key has been simplifying. I create a path based on my Top Three Goals. Let me explain what I mean.
Step #1: I pick my top three goals for the quarter. I do this for my life, marketing efforts/business, and my writing.
Step #2: I write down what it will take to accomplish those goals, and break it down into my top three (and only three!) for each month and week.
Step #3: I prioritize my top three goals. Life happens. Stuff comes up. Just this week my husband and I’s phones died and he was in a car wreck. Prioritizing your goals based on what will move the needle the most (aka give you the most progress in your life/marketing/business for the effort) will tell you where to focus your limited time and resources when life happens and you can only get one or maybe two of the three done.
Step #4: At the beginning of each week, I look at my schedule and top three goals in each category, and decide what needs to happen when in order of priority. Then I do the most important task first, then the second, etc. This helps keep me from procrastinating and wasting time on unimportant tasks that are “more fun.”
Step #5: At the end of the week/month, I re-evaluate. What progress did I make on my goals? Do I need to reassign anything? Alter my goals and priorities to make them more realistic? Simplify my efforts or postpone a project?
Proper planning and prioritizing doesn’t keep setbacks and life disappointments from happening. But it WILL help you focus on what’s most strategic and important, so you can maintain the delicate balance and make progress toward your goals without feeling frazzled and overwhelmed.
Question of the Week: What are your top three goals for this month?