Posted On March 22, 2013 by Print This Post

Brenda Novak: It’s About Time…Management, That Is!

Today we welcome author and one-woman-whirlwind BRENDA NOVAK, who shares her time management techniques with us. In addition to writing multiple books every year, Brenda is the force behind the Auction for the Cure of Diabetes, which has raised over $1.6 million so far. The bidding starts May 1 – and runs through May 31st. Donate here.


I write three books and one novella each year. I have five kids. I often travel and speak. And I run a major fundraiser–an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at—which is like having a second job. Sometimes, I feel pretty overwhelmed. There’s always so much to do! Which brings up issues of time management. This is something I struggle with on a daily basis. Why? Because one thing I don’t plan into my day is time to relax and just “hang,” and that’s so important to relationships. Just being available to people is a great way to build stronger ties, but being available requires flexibility which is difficult for me and other workaholics to manage.

If my kids want to go somewhere or create something, I can put it on the calendar and make it happen. But what about those times when certain subjects wouldn’t come up if you weren’t just puttering around the house together, cooking or cleaning or shooting the breeze? My weakness in this area is why I don’t consider myself an expert on the subject. I think I’m great at getting stuff done. People ask me all the time, “How do you do it all?” But time management shouldn’t be about accomplishing the most in the least amount of time. It should be about balance, about nurturing those around us while we accomplish a reasonable amount.

So now that you know my greatest weakness (I’ve actually had to set goals to stop what I’m doing and let the rest go until tomorrow—LOL), I’ll tell you how I manage my workload. First of all, I do it by taking care of myself. Sometimes the hour I take out of my day for exercise seems like a waste. There are so many other things I want to do with that time. But I remind myself that if I’m healthy and have energy, I will be able to accomplish more in less time. And it’s true. If I get enough rest and exercise, I feel strong and capable, and it makes a big difference in my daily output.

Another sure-fire trick is to prioritize what must be done each day and to do the most important things first. That may sound like a no-brainer, and yet it’s so easy to get diverted. If exercising every day is your goal, do it first thing in the morning. But if it’s more important for you to write ten pages a day, start with that instead. That way, when the unexpected intrudes as the hours progress, and the day begins to get away from you, you’ll still accomplish those things that are most important to you.

Keeping myself on an even emotional keel is another thing that really increases my productivity. This isn’t always easy, of course. Problems crop up, sorrows intrude, accidents happen. But developing some type of inner peace helps you withstand the emotional buffeting that goes along with the bumps of life. Some people use meditation. Others read an inspiring story. Still others keep a gratitude journal. All of these are great techniques. I simply close my eyes, take a deep breath, and think of God saying to me, “Be still and know that I am God.” This usually brings me right back to my center, and if it doesn’t, I begin counting my blessings—taking a look at what I’ve got instead of what I don’t have.

And who doesn’t like killing two birds with one stone? I print out pages from my current WIP and edit while I ride my Exercycle. I listen to research programs on True Crime TV while I clean house. I read my latest manuscript to my husband whenever he has to drive somewhere for work. And probably the best thing I’ve done to date: I’ve hired an assistant. I thought this was something I shouldn’t allow myself—being raised by a frugal mother I felt as if I couldn’t justify such a luxury—but I’ve been able to extend my reach on so many fronts, thanks to this decision.

WHEN SUMMER COMES – Available Now!

One day, Callie Vanetta receives devastating news . . .
She needs a liver transplant. But her doctors warn that, in her case, the chances of finding a compatible donor aren’t good. Determined to spend whatever time she has left on her own terms, she keeps the diagnosis to herself and moves out to her late grandparents’ farm. She’s always wanted to live there. But the farm hasn’t been worked in years and she begins to fear it’s too much, she’ll have to return to town.

One night, a stranger comes knocking at her door…
He’s an attractive and mysterious drifter by the name of Levi McCloud who offers to trade work for a few nights’ shelter. Callie figures she doesn’t have anything to lose. He needs a place to stay until he can fix his motorcycle; she needs an extra pair of hands. The arrangement seems ideal until what was supposed to be temporary starts to look more and more permanent. Then she realizes she does have something to lose — her heart. And, although he doesn’t yet know it, Levi stands to lose even more.

HOME TO WHISKEY CREEK – Coming This Summer

Home to Whiskey Creek

Sometimes home is the refuge you need…and sometimes it isn’t.
Adelaide Davies, who’s been living in Sacramento, returns to Whiskey Creek, the place she once called home. She’s there to take care of her aging grandmother and to help with Gran’s restaurant, Just Like Mom’s. But Adelaide’s not happy to be back. There are too many people here she’d rather avoid, people who were involved in that terrible June night fifteen years ago.

Ever since the graduation party that changed her life, she’s wanted to go to the police and make sure the boys responsible — men now — are punished. But she can’t, not without revealing an even darker secret. So it’s better to pretend. . .

Noah Rackham, popular, attractive, successful, is shocked when Adelaide won’t have anything to do with him. He has no idea that his very presence reminds her of something she’d rather forget. Neither does he know she’s the reason his twin brother didn’t survive that party at the old mine.


How do you increase your productivity? Do you agree that time management is more about balance than it is about working every minute? How do you make yourself take time out?

On Monday, Editor Ashley Christman of Entranced joins us with a Pitch Fest!


Press_Pic_for_Web (1)

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak is the author of more than forty books. A three-time Rita nominee, she has won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Holt Medallion. She also runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes research every May at (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised over $1.6 million. Brenda has a brand new small-town contemporary series out. Come meet the long-time friends who have made Whiskey Creek the “Heart of Gold Country,” with WHEN WE TOUCH, WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES, WHEN SNOW FALLS and WHEN SUMMER COMES.

*Note: This post was originally published at Digital Book Today. (Reprinted with permission of the author.)

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33 Responses to “Brenda Novak: It’s About Time…Management, That Is!”

  1. Hi Brenda,

    Me time is the hardest time to find. Balance is key. I tell my kids time can be your friend or your enemy. Be aware of it and treat it nicely. I agree the priorities should be set and I exercise in the morning too.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | March 22, 2013, 7:11 am
    • Mary Jo, I think it’s so hard to achieve the proper balance. I’m such a workaholic that I want to dig in and keep going until the work is done–but the work is never done. So I have to find time to “live” while I work. LOL

      Posted by Brenda Novak | March 22, 2013, 11:38 am
  2. Hi Brenda – I feel like you wrote this blog for me, since I’ve had a serious problem with time management the last few months. I’m getting into a better routine, but I’m not “there” yet. This post is already helping me – thank you so much!

    I’m excited about the auction – May 1st seems like a long time away, but I’m sure it will fly. Congratulations on all the money for research your auction has raised. Maybe this will be the year they find the cure!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 22, 2013, 8:27 am
    • Thanks, Becke. Your comment surprised me because you are always one to take time for friends and to just be thoughtful. I thought you had the juggling act all dialed in. LOL

      I really appreciate your contributions to the auction. You are an amazing lady. I sure hope we do well this year. Anna and I always get nervous before it starts.

      Posted by Brenda Novak | March 22, 2013, 11:39 am
  3. Morning Brenda!

    I need to work on the prioritizing….lol….big time! I too workout in the mornings, and attempt to answer my emails. After that it’s run run run. I also work a lot of split shifts so getting 30-45 min downtime in the afternoon is necessary to keep my “sunny disposition” and energy high. Now I just need to make writing a much higher priority. (along with vacuuming. oy)


    Thanks for a great post!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | March 22, 2013, 8:43 am
    • Carrie, I think I’d be wiser to avoid email until after my pages are done. It’s so much more fun than real work, you know? I get carried away and start procrastinating the things that are actually more important to me. I have a new goal! Good luck managing your busy life.

      Posted by Brenda Novak | March 22, 2013, 11:40 am
  4. Interesting blog. I agree with making time for yourself. Something I realise is important now, having put myself last for most of my adult life. Still better late than never. 🙂

    Posted by Jane Hunt | March 22, 2013, 8:53 am
    • Jane, your kids will start expecting you to put yourself last forever, and they’ll start putting you last, too. We have to be careful of that–establishing some boundaries and expecting those we serve not to take advantage of us. I’m glad you are taking time for yourself these days!

      Posted by Brenda Novak | March 22, 2013, 11:41 am
  5. I work on balance everyday.Sometimes I won’t be able to accomplish things that I want. I work outside my home full time. I have kids at home. I try to go to they gym three to four times per week. But I try to run when I go. I tried reading while doing it, by I couldn’t hold my book steady and my eyes were wearing me out.
    I still try to keep things done. Some things just won’t get done. But I try my best and I push harder myself.

    Posted by Anna Labno | March 22, 2013, 9:33 am
    • Sounds like you are already doing an amazing job, Anna. Don’t be too hard on yourself. And I agree about reading while trying to jog. Way too hard–and I just don’t have the balance for it. I’m afraid I’ll twist my ankle and go flying off the machine. LOL That’s why I do the bike. I can even edit while riding, but I’ve been practicing that for 21 years!

      Posted by Brenda Novak | March 22, 2013, 11:42 am
  6. I needed to read this post today! I struggle with time management. One thing I have to work on is allowing myself time to refill my creative cup. I do believe “no” is one of the best words invented. If we don’t value our time, no one else will.

    Posted by Tamara Hunter | March 22, 2013, 10:11 am
  7. Boy, this is a timely post for me as well. Days just fly by. I like the idea of doing the most important things firs – for me that would be exercise and then pages written. If I don’t take care of my health then I won’t be around to write! It’s harder to stick to those goals on the days I have the day job. Time is slippery in my experience!

    Posted by Kate George | March 22, 2013, 11:16 am
    • Having a day job on top of writing, family, exercise…that’s very difficult. So first, give yourself a big pat on the back. You have a heavy load to haul and it sounds like you’re doing an excellent job with it. The older I get, the fast time flies. LOL

      Posted by Brenda Novak | March 22, 2013, 11:44 am
  8. All true. And for writers, that “empty” time and space, is important. That, I’m sincerely lacking at the moment!
    My best aid to time management is to create strong habits. The routine means I don’t have to decide when to write. I ALWAYS write at the same time. Bad habits are hard to break. Fortunately, so are good ones!

    Posted by Blythe Gifford | March 22, 2013, 11:27 am
    • Great point, Blythe. Thanks for sharing. I agree that empty space is important. We have to release our minds and let them wander and create and just…daydream. That often helps me over a difficult part of my latest work in progress: just imagining how the characters are feeling and what they will do next.

      Posted by Brenda Novak | March 22, 2013, 11:45 am
  9. Thanks for sharing Brenda. Emotional balance is very important…and yet sometimes so hard to maintain. You inspire me 🙂

    Posted by Rashda/Mina Khan (@SpiceBites) | March 22, 2013, 11:35 am
  10. Schedules and multi-tasking…the combination to preserving one’s sanity–and I love that you edit on the exercise bike . Getting extra use out of times like that make the day so much more productive.

    Posted by Anna Stewart | March 22, 2013, 11:53 am
  11. Brenda, thank you so much for hanging out with us again. Always nice to chat with you.

    Folks often ask me “How do you do it?” too. I never have a good answer. I just do, though sacrifices are made. When I take time to just hang, I get twitchy.

    My balance is to spend 1.5-2 hours each evening with my family before going up to my office. On the weekend, I write in the morning, spend the afternoon with my husband and then write more in the evening.

    Do I want 3 full days off? Yep, but I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of what to do with all that time. LOL Because writing is what I love to do now.

    HOWEVER, we’re taking a long overdue vacation this summer and I’m determined to make the most of it!

    Hugs, Tracey

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | March 22, 2013, 12:32 pm
    • How weird, Tracey. I answered you a few hours ago, but don’t see it here. Anyway, it sounds like you really deserve a vacation. I hope it’s amazing. I would love the chance to get bored, you know? I can’t even remember what that feels like. LOL

      Posted by Brenda Novak | March 22, 2013, 4:45 pm
  12. Hi Brenda,

    Finding the time to write is hard enough, but getting my head into writing mode when I’m in front of the computer is sometimes a challenge when I’m thinking about all the other stuff that needs my attention.

    Thanks for being with us again and best of luck with your auction this year. I’m looking forward to it!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | March 22, 2013, 1:45 pm
    • Jennifer, you make a great point. It’s not only finding time to write, it’s managing whatever stressors you face so that you CAN write. I know when I’m emotionally off kilter I can’t focus and I can’t get into my characters’ heads. Best of luck to you!

      Posted by Brenda Novak | March 22, 2013, 4:46 pm
  13. Great post! I’m feeling the time crunch this year and this post has really helped. Thanks!

    Posted by Larissa Reinhart | March 22, 2013, 2:33 pm
  14. Great article—and so needed for those of us (practically everyone, right?) who have such crazy-busy lives. Thanks for the tips!

    Posted by Diane J. Reed | March 22, 2013, 3:30 pm
  15. Thank you for a great post. Time management is one of the things I have a hard time with but now I have some good pointers to put into practice.

    Posted by Danita Moon | March 22, 2013, 11:28 pm
  16. Brenda – Thank you so much for writing a post for us AND visiting with us. It means a lot, knowing what your schedule is like!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 23, 2013, 2:52 pm


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