Three times in the past week I have been asked how I prioritise personal projects, when there are so many other demands on my time, so I thought I’d share some ideas with you today.
Firstly, it’s important to be really clear on why you want to do the project you want to do. Sounds really obvious, but if your reasoning isn’t crystal clear, the project will slip and other things will eat the time you were meant to make available for your project.
Secondly, it’s important to block out a realistic amount of time to make progress on your project. I have two versions of this kind of time – one set of blocks is non-negotiable, another is moveable depending on what is going on. This gives me flexibility (because life happens) but also keeps a level of commitment (because if you keep releasing your blocks of planned time, you’ll never get anywhere new).
Thirdly, I try to focus on one chunk of the project in one given block of time. So, right now I am working on my second book (hurrah) to a very tight deadline (eek). I have found that getting super organised gives me just enough boundaries to then be creative and free within the chunks of time I have. I might pick one particular chapter or idea within a chapter to focus on, and only work on that in a particular 2 hour block of time. Ideally creative work needs even bigger chunks of time than this – a full day, or a full week, but when that’s not possible, even a couple of hours can be valuable if you can dive right into the heart of the matter.
Lastly, it really helps to share your plans with someone for some kind of accountability. Right now Mr K is that check-in person for me. At the beginning of each day I am working on my book I tell him what I’m going to focus on, and then report back at the end of the day. Sometimes I get done more than I expected, sometimes less. Sometimes I find I have gone off on a tangent, but talking about it really helps me realise whether I used my time well, and then I can adjust accordingly the next time.
If you don’t have anyone in your house to help you stay on track with your personal projects, try finding an accountability buddy in real life or online, or get a mentor who is invested in your progress.
With so much going on in our busy lives, and so many demands on our time, combined with our natural tendency to prioritise others before ourselves, it’s no wonder that our personal projects often slide. But these projects are where much of our joy and genius lies, they are stepping stones to a more creative fulfilling life as we explore what we are capable of, so this week I encourage you to try out these ideas and see what works for you. Let me know!
PS This is the last call for our free Winter Writing Workshop, which starts TOMORROW! If you want accountability for a writing project, this is a great place to begin. With daily writing prompts, thoughts on the writing life and a community gathering space where you can connect with other writers, this will get you back into the rhythm of writing! I hope you’ll join us. Sign up here (it’s free!) https