Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

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Posts Tagged: getting things done

WANA, Kristen Lamb, We Are Not Alone, WANA International, how to be successful writer
Image via Marie Loughin WANA Commons

In the comments in yesterday’s post, my good pal Richard Snow asked how I somehow manage to get a lot of stuff done, despite my having the attention span of a fruit fly…with a bad crack habit. Here are 10 ways to help you be productive even if OOH! SHINY!

…even if you tend to be a tad ADD. The following tips are what help ME stay focused. I am NOT a doctor or psychologist or ADD expert. I’m a Jedi master, warp engine inspector, and WRITER so you get what you get.

1. Make lists.

I get distracted easily, so a list reminds me of what I need to get accomplished. I make separate lists—housework, fiction, non-fiction, business stuff, global domination using sea monkeys. Then, once I have the list, I do the hardest thing on my writing and business lists FIRST (housework can’t wait).

Like Covey says, Never mistake the urgent for the important.

2. Understand that feelings are pathological liars.

Writing is a profession, not a playpen. Professionals ignore their feelings and do it anyway. Only children, amateurs and  The Long Island Medium listen to their feelings. Feelings are fickle, lazy, and secretly jealous of your work and a tad pissed that you no longer hang out with them as much as you used to. The secret to success is to work your tail off. Be willing get up earlier and stay up later than others. Be willing to do what others won’t.

But I wanna write books. I don’t wanna do social media, toooooo. It’s haaaaard.

Yes. It is. There are many reasons this profession is not for everyone.

3. Use The Force…of Self-Discipline

Who cares HOW you get things done, so long as they get done?

I use the “Swiss cheese” approach. I have my list and I take bite after bite after bite until the work is finished. Every book can be written in 250, 500, or 1,000 word bites. I CANNOT work linearly, so I don’t try and yes I was always in trouble in school but public schools were designed to train factory workers and corporate mind slaves, not people who get paid to play with imaginary friends.

4. Mix it up.

I am a writer, wife, entrepreneur, teacher, and mom who has yet to make enough money to afford servants (which sucks), and cats make lousy slaves. This means I get to do most of the cooking, cleaning, laundry and housework. Write your 200 words, fold a load of whites, empty the dishwasher, then write another 200 words.

5. Suck it up.

Understand that sometimes we will have to sit for a long time and focus. It’s hard. Whaaaaaaahhhhh, but anyone who thinks being a writer is a fluffy hamster dream has been hanging out with their feelings…and feelings lie, sabotage and will talk you into living on ice cream and cookie sprinkles.

6. Make mean writer friends.

Yes, the Swiss cheese approach works well for people with ADD, and yes, there are times we need to duct tape our a$$es to the chair. This is why I befriend really mean people who kinda scare me. I recommend Piper Bayard, Chad Carver, Jenny Hansen and Rachel Funk Heller. On the surface they are funny and sweet and would do anything for a friend…but that’s the issue. They will do anything for a friend, including ordering a hit on my X-Box 360.

7. Ditch loser friends.

We all have them or have had them. People who like to complain, make excuses, indulge in their feelings all the time. People who have a new dream every other week. I wanna be an astronaut, no a writer, no a vacuum salesman, no a journalist!

Ditch writers (and other people) who believe in luck, not work. Laziness, apathy, and whining are contagious. Treat excuses like EBOLA. A friend coughs blood excuses all over you, and, within two to three days, you start coughing up blood excuses, too…until your dream of being a writer liquifies and bleeds out and I hope you’re happy with yourself.


8. Forget perfection.

Perfection is an urban legend, started by Feelings (because Feelings are a needy boyfriend/girlfriend who don’t understand the world does not revolve around them.) The world doesn’t reward perfectionist; it rewards finishers. Often we lose focus on what we are REALLY doing, because we are getting sidetracked with nitpicking.

9. Exercise.

Often ADD can be fueled by being too sedentary. Human bodies were not designed to sit on their @$$e$ all day. Ever have a puppy that chews everything and is into everything and short of strapping itself to a rocket is just being a GIANT PAIN IN THE @$$?

How do you get it to behave? Put on roller blades and run puppy until puppy wants to slip into something more comfortable…like a coma. ADD people are human puppies, so stop piddling on the carpet…I mean, go get a little exercise and your focus will generally improve.

10. Drink lots of water.

Human bodies are a hydroelectric system, and water enhances conductivity. Cool writer ideas/thoughts work this way. Muse Pixies of Awesomeness are conducted through your brain to your fingers and they bring the cool story stuff. MPAs like to travel via fairy, or ferry on WATER. They can’t travel if the waterways are too dry and moor them on a cookie sprinkle…and then you can’t focus.

It’s science. Don’t argue.

I hope these tips help. Off to get my tail to Seattle and hopefully back to Texas! What about you guys? Those of you ADD folk out there who’ve paid attention to this point, first of all, CONGRATULATIONS!!!

…now back in your hole.

It writes the words or it gets the hose.

What are your thoughts? Struggles? Tips? Words of wisdom. It’s okay. You have permission to get back in your hole after you comment :D.

It rubs the elbow grease on. IT RUBS THE ELBOW GREASE ON! *pets fluffy white dog*

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NOTE: December’s winner will be announced when I return from Seattle.

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of January I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

One of the greatest parts of my job is that I am so blessed to be surrounded by people more talented than I am…so I can learn. Who Dares Wins Publishing makes this easy, and that is why I love having my fellow WDW authors as guest bloggers. You guys might remember Natalie Markey. Well, she’s back! And she is going to teach us a critical skill for success in any field, but especially in the writing/publishing field. TIME MANAGEMENT! Oy vay! How I struggle with this…which is why I seek out experts. Her bio is at the bottom of the page, and so are links to buy her book.

Today, I am going to share Natalie with you guys. Take it away!


Everyone is trying to be many people at once. I have the writer me, the wife, me, the mommy me, the housekeeper me, and well you get the idea. But how can you take everything that you are and cook it all up to create the perfect time management solution mold for you?

No one said life was easy—it’s hard. So are soufflés! I love to cook and still mastering a soufflé is very much a work in progress! We are all chefs struggling to find the right ingredients for life. How can you master that perfect soufflé?

It is possible to have it all and keep that scary to-do list at bay. How you may ask? Below is how I do it on most days while caring for an active toddler, a demanding dog and two bunnies.

1. Day of Cleaning- Before you can really take on your life’s goals (all of them) you need to have a clean space to accomplish them in. This is the hardest part for some. It helps me greatly to just assign a big clean day once a month. This way nothing gets too out of hand. Now I will still put stuff away and do some cleaning each week normally as I wrap things up for a day. However, a good clean should get a full day for the main reason, as it will have your entire focus. By assigning a day you won’t be feeling pressured to get back to your WIP or write next week’s blog posts. You won’t feel bad putting those things off because they weren’t scheduled for that day. By having a clean work space you can find things easier, move around with ease and make the most of all your time.

2. Reasonable To Do List- I’m a fan of lists. Many people are but keep your list reasonable. You know realistically how much you can do. Don’t exceed that expectation. If you create an impossible to accomplish to do list then you will only be depressed when it doesn’t get done. I try to put at least 2 extra items more than what I think I can get done. This way if I make more time I can always strive for the whole list but if these items need to moved to the following day then it won’t be a big deal.

3. A Well Thought Out List of Goals- Always keep your goals in mind. What do you really want? Don’t get so bogged down with social media and other projects that you lose sight of your big picture.

4. Priority List- It’s good to have a to do list but if there is no order to that list it could be more troublesome than helpful. In all aspect of life you need to do some things before other things. Wednesday’s is our trash day. If I waited until I met my daily word count before taking the trash out then I could miss trash day. It is just as important to prioritize with your writing as it is to prioritize with other areas of your life.

5. Spiral– For daily notes. Keep track of where you stopped when you must run into that meeting or when the baby wakes up from naptime. This will save time when you can return to writing. The days of trying to find where you left off are over! I use my daily notebook as a place to keep any ideas or distractive thoughts that pop into my head as well.

The other day I had a great idea for a scene later in my WIP. Instead of jumping to that scene or forgetting the idea I wrote it all down and then quickly returned to the original scene I was working on. It is important to stick to your goals and stay on track. Ideas are great but don’t let them take over your work!

6. Extra Pens- Or anything that you may need but frequently lose. I am always losing pens so rather chasing them around the house and wasting time, I always keep extras by my side so I can avoid a search. Think about what supplies you need to get your work accomplished and keep them close at hand to avoid getting up and trying to find them.

7. A Few Dabs of Non-Writerly Passions- Discover you non-writerly passions and use them to help ease your writing stress. Not only can doing the things you love ease stress but it can also save you some time. If you are stressing over a scene sometimes walking away from it is the best way to handle the problem.

What do you love other than writing? I love cooking, reading, and caring for my pets. For this example I’m going to talk about cooking. I love cooking (I bet you figured from my references.) at my house I cooks all the meals except for the times my husband has time to grill with his work schedule. Dinner must get made at some point so that’s what I do when I get stuck on a scene or I need a break from writing. I can relax, make dinner and return to my writing with fresh eyes. This really saves time!

You can rise to greatness, just as your soufflé can rise to yumminess. Just like you know what foods you like, know what routine works best for you. If you don’t know then I advise keeping a journal and tracking what time of day you do various tasks. Are you effective at doing that task at that time of day? Until you have the answers don’t be afraid to experiment. You don’t always have to follow the recipe! Figure out what your time management tastes are make it work for you.

And you can think you’ve found the best way to manage time and then still hit snags. Remember I said in the intro to this post, “I do it on MOST days.” Life happens. My dad was diagnosed with heart failure on December 27. That was not in my plan. Spending time at the hospital during his surgery was not a neat bullet point on my to do list. Things did not get done. While being out of town for a month and half and not being able to write too much I fell horribly behind in my non-fiction and it took me a while to return to my groove.

Life happens. Sometimes the soufflé burns. Always refer to your priority list and remember what needs to happen first if you can only do one thing.

How did you find the best time management “recipe” for you?


Thanks Natalie! So what are your biggest time management issues, questions, problems? Everyone who shows Natalie some comment love today gets double entries for my critique prize.

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of March I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

Natalie C. Markey is a veteran freelance journalist of ten years. She is the author of ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog.’  In addition to multiple freelance contracts, she continues to write non-fiction as well as young adult and middle grade fiction. Markey speaks professionally about dogs from an owner’s perspective as well as teaching on writing issues like how to have it all as a writer and a mother and time management for the busy writer.  A native Texan, Markey currently lives in an Arkansas forest with her supportive husband, daughter, dog and two rabbits.  Follow her at www.NatalieCMarkey.com @NatalieCMarkey Pen to Publish blog