Do you struggle to make time for writing after a long day at work? Feel stuck in a draining routine that leaves you feeling less and less like a writer by the day? Maybe you feel like your task management system sucks. BTW, you should know your system failed if you regularly get that frustrated-overwhelmed feeling because you know you’ve worked hard all day—spent hours being productive—and you’re no closer to meeting your writing goals.

 

 Dude, I’ve been there, and it’s a miserable place to be. Especially when your sense of creativity, which used to see the world in colorful sparks of inspiration (“that’d be an awesome idea for a story!!”), starts to draw blanks.

 

 Dear writer, don’t despair! Today, I’m going to share some fool-proof productivity tips that will help inspire you to make time for writing when you’re physically and mentally drained. You’ll learn to better balance your time, prioritize your tasks, and achieve your writing goals (on top of working a day job).

 

 First, grab your copy of the Time Tracker Worksheet below to help you visualize and reflect on your current routine and figure out what you can do to ensure that you have time to write every day. This worksheet will help you set up a solid task management system. Second, if this topic interests you and you want to use a task management system that will help you reach beast-mode-levels of productivity and have a fulfilling writing life, sign up for the VIP list of my soon-to-be released ebook, The Productivity Process.

 
 
 
Task Management System | Productivity Tips | Time management hacks | Make time for writing after a long day at work with these productivity tips. Free Time Tracer worksheet that will help you find time to achieve your writing goals.
 

 

 

*This post contains affiliate links. Find out more about that here. The skinny: I earn a small commission if you decide to buy something through the link. If you make a purchase, there’s no extra cost to you. As always, know that if I share a writing app or product with you, it’s because I use it, love it, and think it could benefit you on your writing journey. Thanks, buddy!

 

 

How to make time for writing

 

 First thing’s first, we need to go over a Big Truth. If you want to finish your novel or poem or memoir or anything, you need to write. You can’t just ~plan~ to write. I’ve said it many times before. If you want to be a writer you need to set aside time and put in the work to finish your writing.

 

Listen: I know it’s hard to add time to our task management system. Especially after a long day. I’m not judging or throwing shade. I’m the first person to cave to procrastination. Netflix is my lifeblood, and I love nothing more than watching Parks and Rec for hours after a long day at work. So, I know where you’re coming from.

 

 

Artist and writer, Austin Kleon, shares how he finds time for creative work in his book, Show Your Work!:

 

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. We’re all busy, but we all get 24 hours a day. People often ask me, “How do you find the time for the work?” And I answer, “I look for it.” You find time the same place you find spare change: in the nooks and crannies. You find it in the cracks between the big stuff—your commute, your lunch break, the few hours after your kids go to bed. You might have to miss an episode of your favorite TV show, you might have to miss an hour of sleep, but you can find the time to work if you look for it.”

 

In order to make time for writing (even when you’re exhausted after work or school), you need to find the time to work. You need to commit to looking for the time to write and then protecting the time you set aside to write. Creating a consistent task management system will help you achieve your productivity goals and find time for writing.

 

With that said, let’s get to it and learn how to make time for writing after working all day.

 

 

First thing’s first, click the button below to grab your free copy of the Time Tracker Worksheet. This resource will help you find time to write and then schedule it in your task management system. 

 

Click here to grab your free copy of the time tracker worksheet!

 

1. A good task management system starts with your mindset

 
 
Is your motivation shrinking? Change your thinking
 
 

If your routine or stress about a lack of productivity makes you feel small and defeated, one solution is to try to reframe your thinking. Try to be aware of the internal language you use when you think about writing.

 

Nothing kills productivity more than the feeling that you HAVE to do something. I know it’s easy to think you need to do some writing—especially when you’ve skipped a few days—but instead of thinking something like:

 

 

  • I HAVE to write a chapter of my story today.

 

Try to change your thinking to:

 

  • I WANT to write a chapter of my story today.

 
 
Is your motivation shrinking? Change your thinking.
 

Side note: These one-line rhymes are a running theme today. I want to apologize. It’s the beginning of a new school year, and I just got out of two consecutive training days for teachers at my school. My brain is a little fried by the new techniques we learned to help students, well, learn. And it’s leaking through to here. However, if you have visions of a future version of yourself using these one-line-rhyme-mantas when you get stuck or frustrated—please, let me know in the comments below. It’s a scientific fact that brain performance, memory, productivity, and creativity are all sparked by rhyme and phonetic devices. Who knew? Advertising companies. That’s who. It explains the commercial jingles.

 
 

When you have to do something, it becomes a chore and you’re more likely to drag your feet to get it done. Think of any yard work you’ve ever planned to do on a Saturday morning. Think of that eight-page research paper you have to write that’s due on Friday. What about that time you had to write up customer satisfaction report for your boss? It all sucks because it’s boring and unfulfilling work.

 

Riiiight? Wrong. There are plenty of people in the world who enjoy doing yard work on a Saturday morning, completing research papers, and helping out their boss/company.

 

 
So, we have to ask, “what’s their secret?”
They want to do this work, because…they find a worthwhile reason to. 
For real: That’s it.
 
 
When they think of completing these tasks, their mindset is:
  • I want to make my yard look nice on Saturday morning.
  • I want to research this cool topic and learn new things.
  • I want to help my boss and be a valuable and reliable member of my company.
 

 

Pro-Tip:

What those people in the above examples have in common (other than framing their thinking differently (“I have to” versus “I want to”), is that they find the work fulfilling in some way. Part of wanting to do something is the ability to make it interesting or know that doing it will lead to a personal feeling of fulfillment.
 
 
Now it’s your turn. Here are some ways you can reframe how you think about writing. Try it out:
 
  • I WANT to tell this story about a controversial topic because it’s a topic/issue that we, as a society, need to address and be aware of.

  • I WANT to finish this novel because it’s my way to use my voice and leave a mark in this world.

  • I WANT to work on my research because I want to learn about new things.

  • I WANT to revise my draft because it’s important to finish what I started.

2. Build a ritual 

 
You need a ritual to be habitual.

Oh-man-why-is-no-one-stopping-me?!

 

 

Remember when, before you wrote any in-class essays, your teacher would ask the same three deep-thinking questions? Or she might have begun every lesson with a short and fun video clip from YouTube. Or he might have played classical music in the background during group peer-editing sessions. I once had a teacher tell me to chew a specific flavor of gum whenever I studied for SATs. So that when I felt nervous and overwhelmed at the beginning of the test, I would chew that flavor of gum, and get in the same, relaxed state-of-mind I was in while I studied for the test.

 

Guess what? These were NOT random activities that served no purpose. These quick activities served as a trigger in your teacher’s task management system. Your teachers did these things because they understood the psychology behind habit formation.

 

Consistently completing the same, small activities before doing an overwhelming or difficult task, will help you build a ritual. In turn, rituals act as a trigger for your brain that cues the start of a specific activity. It also boosts your motivation and helps you get in the zone. Rituals contribute to habit building because they act like a chain of falling dominoes leading to whatever habit or task you want to complete. You knock one domino down and it pushes the next one, and then the next one, and then the next one down until it’s all done. You want a ritual in your task management system that acts like falling dominoes.

 

 

 A Domino-Chain-Ritual in action might look like these series of steps:

  1. First, you turn off your phone, close out of any distracting websites/emails.

  2. You sit in a specific chair that you’ve designated as your Getting Down To Business Chair.

  3. You get your favorite pen and set the timer (that’s always on the table next to your Getting Down To Business Chair).

  4. Then, you might spend 5 minutes journaling about: What you want to accomplish for the day, why you want to accomplish this, and what you can do to increase your productivity.

  5. Finally, once you’ve built momentum, you begin writing.

 

 

 You see how this works? Each mini-task in this ritual leads to the next step and helps sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to get to work. Like falling dominoes.

 

 
Build a productive ritual to give you momentum--like falling dominoes
 
 
 

More examples of Domino-Chain-Rituals:

  • Create a ritual around something you enjoy or something that relaxes you

  • You could drink a glass of your favorite flavored water before you start writing

  • Take a walk around your office or neighborhood

  • Do some stretches or jumping-jacks

  • Change out of your work clothes and into comfy clothes

  • Take your dog for a walk

 
 

 Pro-Tip:

If you work a full-time job, and you want a way to balance your time, your ritual could be an important factor in how you transition from working all day to writing. For example, every day when I get home from work, I put my work bag away, make myself a cup of coffee, grab a snack, and for exactly thirty minutes, I watch Netflix or read a book. I do this every, single day when I get out of school—without fail. I don’t check my email, I don’t revise lesson plans, and I don’t go on Twitter.

 

My ritual keeps my writing fresh and makes it habitual because it functions as a clear, cut-in-stone transition between my full-time job and writing. It works because it kills two (multiple) birds with one stone. 

 

  1. I get a break after a (sometimes exhausting) day at work

  2. I do an activity I enjoy

  3. It’s also a ritual, and so my brain knows that once thirty minutes is up, it’s time to start writing.

 

 Experiment with building a ritual—don’t be afraid to quit a ritual if it doesn’t work for you. Once you find a ritual that works with your task management system, it becomes clockwork in your brain. Dude, my ritual is so ingrained in my head that it’s created an internal clock in me—I know without looking at my watch when my half-hour break is up. It’s freaking-unnerving.

 3. Create achievable goals

 
 
It’s not insurmountable if you hold yourself accountable.

Meh—I’m not feeling that one so much. 

 

 

Let’s face it, you’ll never find time for writing if you don’t have some kind of task management system that keeps you accountable. By “accountable,” I don’t mean that if you miss a day of writing, you lose money or suffer some kind of crippling punishment. What I mean is, your goals need to first be achievable (ALWAYS set yourself up for success) AND you need a time frame to measure how and if you succeeded.

 

PREVIEW OF THE PRODUCTIVITY PROCESS: The following is a sample of the task management system that I use to prioritize my tasks and balance my time. In celebration of Write Whale’s upcoming, FIRST birthday (September 25th), I’m sharing the first step in my productivity system. It’s the foundation of how I hold myself accountable for maximum success and productivity.

 

 
[BEGIN PREVIEW]
 
 

For this productivity system to work, you need to first set a big goal that you want to achieve in the next 90 days. *Completing your goal in 90 days is the important part.* You need a due date for your goal. It doesn’t matter if your end product is exactly-like-you-wanted, but you’ll make tons of progress and be way more productive if you have a deadline to work towards. It holds you accountable and gives you a foundation to measure your success.

 

Three months (90 days) is the perfect amount of time to finish some big things without losing sight of your plan. You know how every year you make a New Year’s Resolution and vow to work on it for an entire year? What ends up happening? Most of the time, you stick to working towards your goals for a few months and then you get bored and discouraged and then you quit. That’s because setting a goal for an entire year is way too long a time to hold yourself accountable. I’ve found that 90 days is the sweet spot between accomplishing a goal and bailing on it.

 

[ Related: The 5 Best Practices To Achieve Your Writing Goals

 

 

Some examples of big writing goals to set if you’re a writer:

  • Write three chapters of a novel

  • Improve your grammar skills

  • Finish all your research for your story

  • Finish creating and building a fictional world

  • Be a more productive writer

  • Self-publish your book

 

 

Where you might get stuck:

There is a delicate balance between setting an achievable goal and getting overwhelmed. I find that, for me, personally, I do better when I work through my goals slow. For example, I won’t set the goal “write a novel in 90 days” because I know it’s not my style. Unless it’s November and I’m writing my NaNoWriMo novel 😉 . I know myself and how I work best. Because most goals have tons of tasks that you need to check-off to complete and achieve the goal, I recommend only having one or two goals for each 90-day period. 

 

 

Pro-Tip: 

Take some time to think about your productivity and motivational levels. Do you work best in high-pressure-time-sensitive situations? Or do you operate under “slow and steady wins the race?” If you know you break under pressure, then you know it’s a wicked-bad idea to set the goal of “write a best-selling novel in 90 days.” You’d be setting yourself up for failure.

 

 
[END OF PREVIEW]
 
 

Want to learn more about the productivity system that helps me balance my time between creative writing, a full-time job, AND running a website? Sign up for the VIP list of my soon-to-be released e-book, The Productivity Process, to get important updates, specials, and first-look previews.

 

Easy-peasy, right?

 

You now have a ton of phenomenal productivity tips and advice about building a successful task management system to get started. So, get to it! 🙂

 
Take action!

 

Today’s Action Steps to Make Time for Writing:

  • Download your free copy of the Time Tracker Worksheet and schedule time in your day to write.

Click here to grab your free copy of the time tracker worksheet!

  • Reflect on how you think about your tasks—do you HAVE to do them? Brainstorm some ways that you could reframe your thinking so you WANT to do these tasks.

  • Experiment with building a Domino-Chain-Ritual to help you get in the zone before you start writing.

  • Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable.

 

 

If you liked this post, you’ll also enjoy 4 Ways to Overcome Procrastination.

 

 

Your turn!

 

Leave a comment below—I’d love to hear how you make time for writing! Do you have an awesome task management system—what is it?

 
 
 
 
  • Click through to listen to storytelling tips and writing tutorial podcast Just Wondering Writers. Take control of your writing education and develop the creative writing skills you need to craft captivating stories with Just Wondering Writers. Join Liz Rufiange as she breaks down the stages of the writing process and answers all of your “I was just wondering…” questions about writing.
    NEW PODCAST! Just Wondering Writers: Episode 01: The Most Important Thing You Need To Know Before You Start Your Novel
    READ MORE
  • 5 Creative Exercises You Need To Eliminate Writer's Block
    READ MORE
  • Best Writing advice for new and beginner writers. What I wish I learned about writing in high school. Writing tips | Writing advice | how to write | motivation | aspiring writer | write a novel
    Essential Writing Advice You Need To Know
    READ MORE
  • Click through to learn how to use this narrative technique to get rid of lousy opening scenes and the shaky first page of your novel idea. Learn with examples from books, movies, and TV shows that audiences love. Writing tips | how to start a novel | how to write a novel | writing techniques
    In Medias Res: How to Eliminate Horrible First Pages
    READ MORE
  • Click through to learn the most important bit of advice that all writers should know before they start writing a novel. Writing advice | get help writing a book | write a novel | writing a first draft | write a story | Creative writing
    Get Help Writing A Book: What You Need To Know Before You Start
    READ MORE
  • Click through and learn to write a book readers can't put down. Here's the different types of conflict found in books readers obsess over. Writing tips | how to write a novel | writing conflict | book recommendations | books for writers
    7 Types of Conflict Found in Books that Readers Obsess Over
    READ MORE
  • Click through and tackle the easily misunderstood "write what you know" writing advice. Learn some strategies to overcome writing anxiety. Free writing workbook download included. Writing tips | writing advice | how to write what you know | how to write a novel
    Writing with Confidence: How to Write What You Know
    READ MORE
  • How to find the perfect writing buddy to get feedback on your writing. Free guidelines included for productive and positive interactions. Writing tips | writing advice | writing feedback | writing critique
    How To Connect With The Perfect Writing Buddy
    READ MORE
  • Click here to grab your free copy of the essential Character Sheet!
    What You Need To Create A Character Readers Will Die For [Character Sheet Included]
    READ MORE
  • How to achieve your writing goals this year. 5 ways to stick to your resolutions and stay motivated all year long. Writing advice | writing tips | motivation | achieve goals | goal setting | productive
    The 5 Best Practices to Achieve Your Writing Goals
    READ MORE
  • Improve descriptions in your writing. Click through for a free worksheet. The biggest misconception about descriptive writing. Writing tips | descriptive writing | writing worksheets | how to write descriptions
    How to Improve Your Descriptive Writing [Worksheet Included]
    READ MORE
  • Click through to learn editing tips that will ensure readers connect with your writing to the fullest extent. Download your free copy of the list of common filter words to edit out of your novel. Writing tips | editing | revision | edit a novel | improve writing | podcast | filter words | writing downloads | free resources
    Episode 02: 3 Editing Tips You Need To Know To Write Perfectly
    READ MORE
  • Click through to see the three best books about writing you should read. These books about writing are written by successful authors and featured in countless writing courses. They will help you grow and thrive as a writer. Writing tips | book recommendations | books about writing | learn to write | how to write a novel
    3 Amazing Books About Writing You Should Read Right Now
    READ MORE
  • Click through and learn the things that go on readers' and writers' shopping lists. Find the best books to inspire your creativity and the tools to supercharge your writing environment. Writing tips | writing advice | writing tools | amazon | book recommendations | writing tools
    Take A Peak At Readers' and Writers' Shopping Lists
    READ MORE
  • Task Management System | Productivity Tips | Time management hacks | Make time for writing after a long day at work with these productivity tips. Free Time Tracer worksheet that will help you find time to achieve your writing goals.
    Task Management System: How To Write When You're Tired
    READ MORE
  • Click through to learn the most cost effective way to improve your writing. Download my free critical reading worksheet and start improving your writing today! Writing tips | writing worksheet | critical reading | how to improve writing
    Critical Reading: The Best Way To Improve Your Writing If You're Broke
    READ MORE
  • Examples of the most common dialogue mistakes make by new writers. Click through for foolproof solutions for fixing these common mistakes. Writing tips | writing advice | how to write a novel | how to write dialogue | writing dialogue help
    Forget this Bad Advice about Writing Dialogue that makes You Look like an Amateur
    READ MORE
  • Four useful tips to overcome procrastination to be more productive and get stuff done. Writing tips | be more productive | overcome procrastination | writing advice
    4 Life-Changing Ways to Overcome Procrastination
    READ MORE
  • Welcome to Write Whale! Your One-Stop Writing Guide Resource
    READ MORE
  • Read like a writer with these literary devices! Made easy with examples from Harry Potter. Click through to learn 7 of the most popular literary devices you can use in your writing. Get your free copy of a glossary with 45+ literary devices and many examples from other books. Writing tips | critical reading | Harry Potter | writing techniques
    7 Popular Literary Devices To Use In Your Novel
    READ MORE
  • Click through and learn two killer brainstorming activities that will end writer’s block and help you develop your novel and story ideas. Learn how to turn a half-formed story idea into a fully-developed plot. Writing advice | brainstorm a novel | write a novel | brainstorm a creative idea
    Brainstorming Activities That Will Help Develop Your Novel
    READ MORE
  • How to learn grammar without a workbook. Practical, real-world ways to learn grammar. Useful tips and tricks to help you learn grammar. Writing tips | grammar help | how to improve grammar | writing skills
    Grammar Workbook Alternatives: 4 Simple Ways to Improve Your Writing
    READ MORE
  • One way to get your writing out there is to submit it to short story competitions. Most writing competitions have entry fees. Click through to find out what to do if you have writing ready for submitting, but don’t want to dole out cash. Writing tips | publish writing | publishing help | writing competitions | self-publish
    3 Free To Enter Short Story Competitions
    READ MORE
  • Stuck with no plot? Click through for 6 creative thinking exercises to help brainstorm a novel idea in 10 minutes. Have more productive brainstorming sessions. Writing advice | how to brainstorm a novel | how to write a novel | writing tips
    Brainstorm a Novel Idea in 10 Minutes
    READ MORE
  • Find a famous author whose advice & quotes about writing & living a creative life speak to you. Find someone who can relate to the struggle of living creatively. Writing advice | quotes| motivation | writing help | how to write a novel | writing inspiration
    Advice From Famous Authors That Will Raise You Up
    READ MORE
  • Improve your writing by learning active and passive voice. Includes a free cheat sheet with a simple trick to identify passive voice. Writing advice | writing tips | improve writing skills | how to write | grammar help | grammar tips
    What You Need To Know To Learn Active And Passive Voice
    READ MORE
  • What to look for when giving feedback on writing. How to be better at receiving writing. Free editing checklist and the feedback sandwich. Writing tips | revision | writing critique | feedback | self-editing
    What You Need To Know About Giving And Receiving Feedback
    READ MORE
  • Do you want an affordable, quick, and easy writing app to proofread your writing before you publish it? Click through for an honest review of the #1 Grammar checking and proofreading app. Writing tips | best writing software | grammar help
    Grammarly: Complete Your Novel with the Best Writing App
    READ MORE
Get your free Descriptive Writing & Imagery Worksheet by entering your info!

Get your free Descriptive Writing & Imagery Worksheet by entering your info!

You are half way there! Please complete this form and click the button below to gain instant access to your free resource.

Success! Check your email--your imagery worksheet is on the way!

Ready to write captivating stories?

 

Join countless others and get access to my free library of worksheets, e-books, and resources for writers.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Get your free Time Tracker Worksheet by entering your info!

Get your free Time Tracker Worksheet by entering your info!

You are half way there! Please complete this form and click the button below to gain instant access to your free resource.

Success! Check your email--your feedback checklist is on the way!