Academy for Wayward Authors: Identify Your Rocks to Transform Your Time Management Skills

Start with the rocks

Over twenty years ago, I saw Stephen Covey speak. He talked about time management in a great way:

“Your time is a bucket. What you can put into it is finite. You could just let it fill up with small pebbles like answering emails, scrolling on social media and posting, little task after little task, and fill up your bucket with them. Then you find out you have no space in the bucket for the rocks. The big things that will make a difference.”

The big things may not be urgent but are strategically important. Things that change paradigms and take a business to 10x.

But which rocks?

Well, let’s figure that out in this article. This will be a big help in getting organized. I will caution you. After you’re halfway through this season, don’t be surprised if you tip over your bucket and reorganize it with different rocks.


Identifying your primary rocks.

What is in your annual plan? Where do you want to be in twelve months? Two key numbers should be identified and honored: your yearly revenue and your ARK. To hit those goals, what needs to happen?

You typically do one of three things in an author business to hit those key numbers:

  • Create new intellectual property.
  • Sell something new or old.
  • Develop or improve some process.

The number one rock for an author is words. If you’ve chosen this as your business, you must deliver your word count. That’s how you create IP.

Next is what you do to systematically find and retain readers. This doesn’t mean interacting with them as much as it means building systems and game paths that nurture them. I recently spent hundreds of hours designing the Author Marketing Assessment. It required the survey, the related web pages, and over twenty emails. That system is designed to nurture readers 24/7 at my audience’s pace. Most of the time I spend with clients is on how we can build systems to scale nurturing and retention. If that is going on in the background, it’s always compounding.

How much attention do the rocks get each day?

Respect that working on the rocks takes longer and requires much more intellectual energy. You can spend weeks or months on a rock and not feel you’ve made progress. Not until it’s done do you get to see the power of that rock as it begins to do the work for you.


If it isn’t driving numbers, why are you doing it?

Why are you doing it if you don’t see it increasing key indicators around audience building, IP creation, or active launches? Should this item be removed from the bucket and added to the DO NOT DO list? Some look at activity as a proxy for progress. It’s not. Sometimes, what makes the biggest impact is the slower, intellectually intense work of building a system that, once deployed, automatically does the necessary activity.

You only get so many buckets.

It’s not just about the volume of the bucket—it’s about the buckets you’re allotted. Buckets filled with pebbles or left unfilled can never be used.

Read: The Formula for Success and Creating Positive Feedback Loops