Learning to set goals with limited time

Q3 of 2020 started a week ago, and while it’s hard to believe it’s here, it also feels like this year has been an eternity long. I know I’m not alone when I say this year has been weird. Since it became clear early on that I wasn’t going to get a whole lot done this summer. I’d planned for it, but a lot of my plans got upended, and… yeah. You know the rest.

I managed to stick to my plan for the first half of the year, and that was honestly a big surprise to me, too. I previously wrote about how Q3 would see things slowing down a lot: right now, I’ve got edits for Serpent’s Bane (Snakesblood book 3) underway and will be sending the files for book 4 off before the week is out. Book 3 has a tentative release date of August 29 at this point in time. But before I get the book out there, I have to get final edits done.

How do you plan and set goals when you have such limited time? That’s been the biggest challenge for me. Being used to having a certain number of hours in the day where I can work, and then suddenly having a fraction of that. About a quarter of that. On good days, anyway–on bad days, I might not have much time to work at all.

So how do you get things done?

You let them go.

Counter-intuitive, I know, but my to-do list has continued to shrink in hopes of getting it to fit into my limited work time. It still doesn’t fit, which means more has to be dismissed, but we’ll get it sorted out.

I don’t have as much time as I want, I don’t have as much time as I need, but I still have time to make things happen–the important part is finding which things can be done in what limited time I have. My kanban board has helped with that, as has my planner, because I keep big lists of the things I need to do. Any time I have ten, fifteen minutes to spare, I save myself time by already having a list of small tasks that I can address, and those little tasks will add up to big results eventually.

Have fifteen minutes before everyone else gets up? That could be half a page of editing, or a handful of invoices sent. Five minutes during lunch? That’s enough time to do some needed research or reply to messages.

Through it all, my phone has been my most useful tool (but RIP my battery!) because it lets me multitask, to an extend. Got studying to do? Turn on a Bluetooth speaker and listen to a podcast in the shower. Need to write a book blurb? We can tap that out in the Notes app while pushing a little one on a swing.

Of course, that’s less useful for editing books or filming videos, which is why July is sort of a catch-up/take-a-break month.

I’m still setting goals, but they’re small ones.

Finish editing that book.
Try to balance the checkbook this month instead of vaguely knowing that I’m putting in more than I’m taking out.
Ship all those signed books.
Catch up on work I owe other people.

This unfortunately means my doll projects (and as a result, YouTube videos) are taking a back seat. I’m still filming stuff, but I’m working a bit slower as I knock out some big jobs, and I’ll resume doing videos some time in August.

If school doesn’t go back to normal,  my work schedule won’t, either, and I can’t see that happening. So for August and September, I’ll need a whole new system to deal with things, and I’m open to suggestions for making that happen.

Right now, though… my 15 stolen minutes are up, and there’s laundry that has to be folded.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.