By Kate White
November 16, 2012
Like most people, I made more than a few mistakes in my twenties. I dated some loser guys, rented an apartment in Manhattan without realizing until I moved in that there was no sink in the bathroom, and accepted my first big job for a sucky salary when I definitely could have negotiated for more. But one of my biggest doozies, which I still regret, is that I developed into a horrible procrastinator back then. I constantly postponed everything from writing assignments to thank you notes–and then was tormented by the deadlines hanging over my head.
Eventually I defeated the problem with some serious professional help. No, I didn’t see a shrink. Rather, I started writing articles about time management so that I could interview the top experts and learn everything I could on the subject. The tricks I picked up (and I created a few of my own) changed the way I did everything. They not only cured my procrastination but they also made me far more efficient. In the fourteen years I ran Cosmopolitan magazine, keeping it number one on the newsstand all that time, I also raised two kids with my husband and wrote eight mysteries—without murdering anyone in the process.
Here are ten of the best tricks I learned:
1. Pinpoint when you’re most in the zone. I’m a night owl at heart but after some trial and error, I discovered that I’m most creative early in the morning. So I switched from writing my novels in the evenings to early mornings. Yeah, it was brutal at first, and I nearly bitchslapped my alarm clock a couple of times, but I was definitely more productive when I started penning words at 7:00 a.m. So experiment. When do your best ideas bubble up? When do projects seem almost effortless? If you work in the zone, you get a lot more done.