NaNoWriMo writers: When does your real day begin?

Happy First of November.

For those of you who want to start writing a novel today, we’ve got a great writer’s group which meets on November 19 via teleconference. But the first thing you need to do is figure out when you’re going to do this important thing you’ve decided to do. Maybe you’re writing a novel this month, and maybe you aren’t, but this ought to be helpful no matter what your top priority is.

Ask yourself: what’s your top priority right now? Working on a novel? Spending time with kids? Getting more sleep? Landing a new client?

Day begins at dawn. Or does it really?

Based on the premise that we ought to put the top priorities on our schedule for the first thing to do in the day may mean that we need to think outside the box about when our day begins. If my top priority is getting more sleep, then my day might begin at 9 PM. If my top priority is spending time with the kids, it’s 4 PM when they get home from school (and my week begins at 4 PM on Friday). If it’s finishing that novel, it begins at 7 AM with a two hour writing session before I do any other work, and my month begins with the weekend where I schedule a writer’s retreat.

Think outside about what time your day begins. Set that time for your most important activity of all, then, and only then, after you’ve done that, you can do whatever you can with the rest of your day. Everything else revolves around what’s most important to you. You may notice that this is when you have a surge of energy — when beginning that thing which is most important. Or, you may decide to begin your day at 8 AM with the thing you least like to do but is important for your success.

In the Jewish tradition Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday; in fact, every day begins at nightfall, not at dawn. There’s no reason you can’t set the beginning of your day for some other time than when you wake up (unless you’re practicing this aspect of Judaism, of course, then you have to follow your convictions). The point is that you really can begin to think of a different time than dawn as the beginning of your day.

Change your thinking about what time of day your day¬†really¬†begins, and you’ll have a new tool for time management. Do the most important stuff first, and everything else can fall into place. Then, set a goal and tell somebody about it!