Let’s talk about priorities, because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything we want to do. We have to make choices every day, ever hour even, of what we need to do first, something I know a lot of authors struggle with. So to help you, I want to show you your #1 priority as an author…and then go down the list.
Your “One Thing”
I’ve read many management and time management books over the years, but there have been a few that stuck with me. The Power of Focus was definitely one, an older book that helped me realize how important it is to not want to do everything.
Another example is The One Thing, which title is quite self-explanatory. This book drills home the message of prioritizing the one thing that’s most important.
Both books come at it from a different angle, but their message is the same: focus on what matters most, on the one thing that will make a difference.
What’s Your Goal?
But to do that, you need to know what matters most. You need to have a goal. So before you can find your one thing, you need to know what it is you’re trying to accomplish. This goal can be whatever you want it to be, but if you want to realize it, you’d better make it specific.
For the first half of 2018, my initial goal was to make $15k in sales with my books. When I realized that much faster than I had expected, I changed my goal. I did an upgrade, haha. My goal became to realize an income that would be enough to support my family.
Your goal can be monetary, emotional, whatever, but you have to have a clear picture of where you what to go. It can be as simple as “I want to publish three books” or “I want to make enough to quit my job”. Whatever works for you. But you need that goal first before you can set priorities, because your priorities are all about reaching that goal.
Your #1 Priority as an Author
Once you have that goal, you need to figure out how to get there. How will you realize it? What steps do you need to take to achieve it?
Let’s go back to my goal of realizing an income that would be enough to support my family. My bottom line became that I needed to release books. With every book I published, I knew i’d made an X amount of money, so for me, that was the bottom line.
My #1 priority as an author is super simple: write books.
That’s my “one thing”, the difference-making activity every day. I need to write books. It sounds so freaking obvious, but it’s easy to overlook when you have two hundred things on your to do list.
Your #2 and #3 Priority
Obviously, it’s not enough to write books, you also have to publish and sell them. In a nutshell, those are my three priorities. Or they should be, because just like anyone else, I lose sight of these at times.
Every day, that should be the order in which I invest my time: writing books, publishing them, and selling them. Anything else can and should take a backseat.
Now obviously, there are things we have to do, even if they don’t help with any of these three. Filing taxes for instance, or filing for copyrights for our books. The options are endless, but…I think we can all sense which of these are truly important (hello, IRS and their hefty fines if you forget to file…) and which ones aren’t.
On any given day, at any given moment when you struggle with an overflowing to do list, ask yourself this:
- Will this help me write books?
- Will this help me publish books?
- Will this help me sell books?
If not, it’s probably not a huge priority. That’s true for both time and financial priorities, by the way.
What If The Results Aren’t There Yet?
Granted, sometimes we have to invest time in things that will have delayed results. Take my FB reader group, for instance. I’ve invested a lot of time in building that, even when it didn’t contribute yet to my sales. The reasoning was that I knew it would help me in the longer term. The same is true for writing retreats, marketing conferences, reading books to grow my craft, etc. It’s okay to focus on the middle long term or long term, but at some point, the results will have to come.
The 80/20 Principle
I want to leave you with one last thought. It’s called the 80/20 principle, also known as the Pareto principle. The idea is simple: at its core, we get 80% of the results with 20% of the effort. To achieve 100% of the results (in whatever form), we’d need to add 80% more effort (time, money, etc).
The question is then: how important is that remaining 20% for you?
You have to invest your time and money wisely, and sometimes, that means accepting that an 80% is good enough, because you can’t afford to spend a whole lot more time and money on it. For a perfectionist like me, that’s not always easy, but I’ve learned to ask myself that same question: will this extra effort really help me write books? Publish books? Sell books?
If the answer is maybe or a marginal yes, I know I’ve hit my 80% and I’d better focus on a new 20% that will get me a new 80% in results… Calculating? Yes, but at the end of the day, as much as I love to write and love being an author, it’s a business for me. After all, that was my goal…
Hope this helps! Hit me up with questions or comments…