I have a few flaws. Which, I know, will come as a shocker to all of you. Because, hey ... Kevin. Am I right?

So one of those flaws is an over-inflated sense of self importance. Ironically, that one is contrasted nicely with my tendency toward a feeling of "imposter syndrome," which can be a little crippling and anxiety-inducing. 

But the more notable flaw on my list is the fact that I'm a terrible procrastinator who absolutely hates scheduling and planning. 

I even procrastinated on this article.

But recently I had a conversation with Nick Thacker, from writehacked.com. We co-host the Self Publishing Answers Podcast, and one of our recent topics was "focus."

Nick said, "If it isn't on my calendar, it doesn't get done."

Simple. Elegant. And a proverbial kick to the man bits for this Wordslinger. Because, as I sat in a converted closet, listen to the dulcet tones of my heterosexual friend and co-host, I realized that he was absolutely right.

It ties in with another bit of advice I got from my grandfather—sage of Wild Peach, Texas.

If it's important, it gets done.

That's it. Simple, right? The things the matter most to us get done. And the things that don't ... don't. But in a world where everything feels urgent and important, where schedules become banana-pants-crazy-town, sorting the important from the unimportant doesn't seem so easy.

There are a lot of techniques and tips and tricks out there for organizing your life. I wish I could say I've tried them all and found the one that works best. But I haven't. I keep meaning to ... (badump, bump). 

But a good, basic place to start, to get your mind on what's important and focus on getting important stuff done, is to put things on your calendar. 

I like to use digital calendars. For starters, I always have one with me, in the form of my iPhone. In addition, I can set "alerts," to remind me at specific times that something's coming up.

For some events, I might have two or three alerts—sort of a "remember this is coming up," then "remember to round up what you're doing in time for the thing coming up," followed by "that thing starts in 10 minutes." It keeps it top-of-mind. 

And you know what? Nick was so right. Since committing to this system of using my calendar and scheduling things, I'm getting way more done. And I'm forced to focus on what's important. I have to decide—does this go on the calendar or not? That decision means I'm forcing myself to determine what really matters to me, and what deserves my focus (as well as what doesn't).

The digital calendar works really well for the modern Wordslinger. The commitment to put things down and set up alerts, to make sure that the things I want to do become things I've done—that's made a huge difference in my focus and productivity.

It also helps me sort through what's really important to me. Knowing that every block of time on that calendar represents either a 1 or a 0, an on or an off, a Do or Don't Do—that makes it easier, somehow, to decide what to do, when. I know that if I want to succeed, I have to make time for the things that make success possible.

But doing it digital ain't the only way.

Nick likes to write things down on paper.

I know, right? Paper.

But not just any paper. He uses a pretty sophisticated and uber-cool Productivity Planner to plan things in advance.

Nothing makes me feel like a hack more than working closely with a guy who has detailed plans. But anyone would have to admit, Nick gets stuff done

He's got this down to such a science that he's releasing his planner for the world to use. Even I plan to get one! It's on my calendar, so you know it's true.

More than just a calendar, though—the Productivity Planner contains articles from a bunch of really sharp, really smart folks, with advice about productivity, focus, and motivation. Joanna Penn, Joel Friedlander, Tim Grahl, and many more have added their own perspective to keeping yourself motivated and on task.

There's even a bit from a certain Wordslinger. 

If you have any aspirations to write—blogs, books, marketing or website copy, or anything regular writing at all—you should get your hands on this planner. You owe it to yourself to create some focus and find a path to getting the important things done. Go check it out, and let me know how it works for you!

Get the 2015 Productivity Planner now!


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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