April 7, 2018 by Sarra Cannon
These days, there is so much more to being an indie author than simply writing books. You have to know how to run your business in an efficient way, and one of the most important things you can learn early-on is how to effectively balance your writing and business tasks.
I had no idea when I decided to be an author that I was also signing up to be an entrepreneur and a business woman! Learning how to balance writing with business has been a struggle, but I have some great tips for you today to help you manage your time more effectively.
As a pre-tip, if you haven’t already watched them, please take the time to check out my How To Write A Best-Selling Series playlist over on YouTube. The more time you put into creating a marketable series before you begin publishing, the easier your books will be to market.
The easier the marketing, the less time you have to spend working on your business, which frees up more writing time. Now, on to the main tips!
Feel free to watch the video below or keep reading for my tips on how to balance your writing and business time.
Your most valuable creative hours in any given day should almost always be spent writing, editing, plotting or working on your novel.
Yes, marketing and business tasks are super important to both long term and short term success of your writing career, but trust me when I say that you will not have much of a writing career if you are not actively writing!
Take the time to schedule your writing time in. Don’t leave it up to chance or plan to just squeeze it in when you have time.
I have found that it’s almost always easier to sit down and work on a newsletter or making teasers than it is to sit down and do the hard work of writing. If given the choice, I’ll almost always choose the more mundane business tasks.
If you specifically schedule in your writing time each day, you are much more likely to get it done.
Also, it’s important to know that marketing one book to death is almost always going to bring in less money and growth than getting that second and third book into the market. Writing should almost always be your first priority.
There will be times when marketing or business tasks absolutely need to be your main focus. Just before a new release, for example, you may not be writing at all. Your attention may be completely focused on the marketing for a week or two as you promote your brand new book.
At other times, you may be on deadline and need to focus your attention on your edits instead of your marketing. The publishing and promotion cycle tends to go in waves.
For me, I find that it’s best to have an ideal schedule for myself. That means writing every morning and scheduling my business tasks for the afternoons. However, I also know that the process goes in cycles, so when I’m close to deadline, writing will be my focus. When I’m closer to release, the business tasks ramp up and the writing is put on hold until after the dust settles.
The more you begin to pay attention to your own cycles, the more you can plan accordingly and make the most of those times for yourself.
One of the leading causes of overwhelm in any business is knowing that you have a million things to do but having no clue where to start.
The best way to deal with this is to write down every single task that needs to get done, no matter how small. Some people call this a “brain dump”, and it’s a great way to just get it all out in the open and on paper, rather than allowing it to be a jumbled mess of tasks in your brain.
Once it’s all written down, take the time to prioritize your tasks. What’s the most important thing you can do in your business to move you toward your goal right now? You can use a simple A, B, C labeling system to prioritize these tasks in order of importance.
Once you know exactly what needs to get done, I recommend setting up theme days for yourself.
Instead of trying to do a million little unrelated tasks in a single afternoon, I’ve found it to be so much more productive if I assign a theme to each day. Monday might be graphic design day where I choose stock photos and create teasers for an upcoming launch. I may also shoot photos for Instagram and edit them to size.
Tuesday might be advertising day where I set up and manage all of my Facebook ads and apply for promotions for my free books.
Wednesday may be the day where I work on my social media engagement and schedule out my posts in the Facebook group, twitter, and my blog.
Assigning theme days and grouping similar tasks together helps me to get more done and to stay focused.
As you prioritize your tasks, constantly ask yourself if this tasks if going to move you closer to your goals. If the answer is yes, arrange those items in order from most important to least important.
However, if you study a task on your list and you have no idea how it’s really going to get you closer to your goal, take a moment to ask yourself why it’s on your list in the first place. Is this something you’ve tried before that didn’t work? Why are you doing it again?
Is this simply something someone else told you to try but deep down you don’t feel that it fits in with your personal goals? Delete it!
You should only be focusing on tasks that will somehow move you closer to your desired career and outcome. If it doesn’t move you one step closer to your goals in your career, delete it and move on to the more important tasks!
This goes back to the idea of prioritizing and setting theme days, but it’s so important not to try to do everything all at once.
When you look at your massive to-do list, it might seem that everything on it is important and needs to be started right away. However, when you start a thousand different tasks, you are much more likely to get started and never actually complete anything.
I find that it’s much better to focus on my priorities and group similar tasks together according to their importance at the moment.
This is why I use a system of 90 day planning, where I set 3 main goals per quarter. If something isn’t getting me closer to achieving one of those three main goals, it simply doesn’t go on my quarterly plan. It might be something that gets done next quarter, but I want to set my goals according to my most urgent and immediate needs and desires.
I am also careful to arrange my day so that the writing/editing/story work gets done in the mornings before I can get distracted or be emotionally derailed by something happening in my day. For you, I would recommend figuring out when you are most creative and productive and scheduling your writing time for that time of day. Be consistent!
Then, I also group my business tasks in the afternoon, rather than trying to get a bit of writing done here and then sliding business tasks in between my writing time. I am much more productive when I’m focused on a single tasks, rather than trying to do a lot of things all at once.
I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Being a writer and an entrepreneur can be overwhelming and exhausting.
It can often feel as though there is so much to do that you really need to be working ten to thirteen hour days just to get it all done. Working that hard, though, simply isn’t sustainable.
If you don’t take time to refill your creative well, you are going to eventually burn out and not be able to do anything creative or productive. I know from experience that burnout can lead to needing months of rest! Don’t put yourself in this position, because it will only leave you feeling more overwhelmed and behind in your goals.
Make sure you are scheduling your writing and your business tasks, but also be sure to make time for yourself. What types of activities make you happy? What types of things help you to relax?
Whether it’s a walk in the park or a binge-watching session of Netflix shows, it’s okay to take a break! As indie entrepreneurs, we can often see how hard everyone else is working and that can make us feel guilty when we aren’t working as hard or getting as much done.
It is perfectly okay, and even necessary, for you to take a break. Taking time for yourself and cultivating joy and relaxation is vital to your success as a creative entrepreneur.
I hope this list of tips has helped you think of some good ideas for how you plan to balance your writing and business time. For me, I’ve found that most of the time, it’s a 50/50 split between my writing tasks and my marketing and business tasks.
How have you been managing your time? I’d love to know about the struggles you’ve faced or any additional tips you might have for us in the comments below.
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I have been self-publishing my books since 2010, and in that time, I've sold well over half a million copies of my books. I'm not a superstar or a huge bestseller, but I have built an amazing career that brings me great joy. Here at Heart Breathings, I hope to help you find that same level of success. Let's do this.