Every Monday, my Outlook reminder dings incessantly to remind me that Monday's are Blog Post Days. Until I finish the task and hit the COMPLETED button, I see and hear a constant memorandum of my Number One Monday work priority. I've established a standard priority for each day of the week--EDITOR/AGENT CONTACT DAY, PROPOSAL REVIEW DAY, CONTRACT PREP DAY, MANUSCRIPT READING DAY--and no matter what else happens on that particular day, I try to give top billing to my Priority du jour.
Without fail, there are always a host of competing tasks fighting to take precedence over my established daily priorities. (The number one offender on most days is the sirens' call of incoming e-mails.) This Priority tug-of-war never ends. I am always arguing with myself as to whether or not the pull of the urgent trumps the importance of my pre-established goals.
Since it is now Tuesday. . .and I'm just now getting around to posting a blog entry. . .you can correctly assume that another priority usurped top billing on my Monday Priority list. I had to attend a funeral yesterday. In this case, there was no debate as to whether the Urgent should overrule my Monday Priority.
Temptations abound for a writer to forgo what should be the immediate, Number One priority for the lure of another, more immediately gratifying task. When she should be researching the historical accuracy of a scene, she might find it much more enjoyable to invite new friends to her Facebook page. When she should be completing the first draft of her story, she may be tempted to rework her first chapter for the umpteenth time before she's ready to move on. Rather than tackling the dirty work of a chapter-by-chapter synopsis, she gives in to the urge to read the Amazon reviews of her last project. I can (sheepishly) testify to the validity of these statements from personal experience. Hence, my steady stream of Outlook reminders to keep me on task.
While I agree with Ecclesiastes 3--that there is a "time for every purpose under heaven...," I am always at odds with knowing just how to discover what and when those times/purposes should be. In times of competing priorities, how do you stay on task? In the barrage of all-good-and-well tasks begging for your time and attentions, what tools do you employ to ensure you've chosen wisely?