Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ten ways to manage time

Woah, Nellie! Can you believe it's already August? Everytime I see the countdown widget, anxiety squeezes my heart just a little. Where did the time go?

The age old adage "there's only 24 hours in a day" applies to writers more so than any other profession. Every writer I know has at least one other job, a family, other responsibilities, and yet they find time to write.  For me, this next year is chalked full of events. With the second book out at the end of October, marketing is going to take up a huge chunk of time and I have yet to outline the third.

Writing is one of the most creatively rewarding yet time consuming endeavors I've ever pursued. And so I've devised ten strategies to help save time.

10. Pay the bills as they come in or have them automatically taken out of your account. Bills are a pain. But electricity and internet are a must for a writer, so try and take this one off your to-do plate if possible.

9. Make your calendar of events online, and somewhere that you can access it easily. Many of us start out the school year with great calendar aspirations, but it doesn't do much good to start a calendar if it's stuck at home on the desktop. It takes being mindful to check the calendar before committing to an event or a function, but if you're not careful, you'll run yourself ragged.

8. Learn to say no. I have a hard time with this one because I love to help others, but this past year I've limited myself to only a few projects other than my own.

7. Do housework a little everyday. I've never met a writer whose house is immaculate. I do have a few friends who have a service come in on Friday, and if you can afford it, I'd definitely say it is worth the money. But for the rest of us schmoes making sure the sink is cleared and doing a few loads everyday helps in keeping the boat in smooth waters.

6. Cook meals that can be frozen The simple act of putting food on the table for the family can be time consuming. The past few years I've learned to make a huge pan of lasagna on Sunday, eat it again on Monday, put the leftovers in those containers you can stick in the freezer. When I'm in the throws of writing,  we'll often have homemade frozen dinners for a few days and make room in the freezer for more.

5. Try multi-tasking when you can. I find that there are countless little snippets of time in the day that can be used. Sitting in traffic, waiting for your kiddo to get out of dance, etc, is an excellent time to catch up on those missed phone calls.

4. Keep it simple. I used to be one of those people that went overboard on everything. An event calls for me to bring a dessert and I'm whipping up a concoction in the kitchen that takes hours to make. Not so much anymore. If you need to bring something to a function, go to the market and pick it up on your way there. Seriously, that banana cream pie that grandma used to make is wonderful on special occasions, but when it's the t-ball picnic no one's going to mention that you brought a store bought pie instead.

3. Ask for help. I suck at this one. It goes against every fiber in my being, but I've learned to know where my limits are. If you've never so much as posted a comment on a blog, why on earth would you try to design a website? Most of us waste countless hours muddling through something we have no clue about only to become frustrated and ask for help anyway.

2. Turn the net off when writing.  Make the hours in front of the screen count. Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, etc. is not writing ... it's playing on the internet. Allot a time during your day for social sites, blogging, and email, but if you've set a writing time aside in the morning, stay devoted it to it. You'll be surprised how much you actually accomplish.

1. Make time to play. Life is not meant to be spent alone and in front of an LED screen. While you lose yourself in creativity, time marches on around you. Your children grow, your friends get together, your family spends time in church or at the park. Writing is a passion that lasts a lifetime, but that life should also be full of other experiences.  Make sure you don't miss them!