Time Management, Where Are You?


Hello? Are you there? Time Management, why have you forsaken me?

Okay, so that’s a little melodramatic, but still, um, I need to check myself. Though I prefer a loosely structured schedule (only allowed during my downtime, unfortunately), I still strive for efficiency. Contradiction in terms, you say? Nope. Paradoxes happen. It’s true.

Before I go down a tangent, let me get back to the point.

Here’s an appraisal of my time, generally speaking, over the past few weeks. (It started when I sent that full manuscript out to awesome agency. I’ve sort of wandered around aimlessly waiting for another idea to strike…could be waiting a while).

Day job= 9-10 or more hours, Monday thru Friday. Sometimes weekends. Sometimes overnight call. Manageable. I know what to do there. (The result of four years of medical school followed by four years of residency and ridiculous $$$$ student loans that I won’t finishing paying until I’m 61. SIXETY ONE! Yeah…Psst: Though I may complain about it, it WAS worth it. I’m one of the fortunate ones who can say they LOVE their job–even with the frustrations that make me wanna rip out my hair sometimes, LOL!)

Weekends and evenings are filled with:

  • Trolling blogs–fun, fun, fun!
  • Writing my own blog posts–tee-hee, more fun! (Fun will be a recurring theme, FYI.)
  • Checking Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and QueryTracker Forum–repeatedly–“social” fun!
  • Reading–intellectual, living in another world fun!
  • “Watching” comedies (I quoted “watching” cuz I keep one eye on the computer and one on the TV)…Family Guy, Simpsons, Frasier (all psychiatrists are required to watch this), The Office, South Park–sick fun!
  • Playing with my cat, Grace–she does flips in the air–crazy fun!
  • Writing–imagination-ing, world-building, hanging with my character peeps fun!

Hmmm. Notice “writing” came last. Oh no! All this fun is getting in the way of me writing. NOT COOL!

So, why is it happening? Doing “administrative” writerly things takes time. Yes, I categorize blog surfing, post writing, and social networking to be administrative. It’s directly related to writing, I learn A TON OF STUFF, and I get to meet other writers–who are awesome, helpful, and cool people. (But you probably already knew that.) This administrative activity is necessary, right? But it isn’t actually W-R-I-T-I-N-G.

Now, if something is necessary, but takes time away from the actual exercise of writing, how do I corral it to productive and manageable levels?

I suppose there’s the behavioral approach of limiting the amount of time I engage in each activity. Already, I’ve been structuring blog writing time for weekends. Progress! I could limit myself to a certain number of times I’ll allow myself to refresh my e-mail’s inbox page. Yeah. Good luck with that!

Even better, I could examine the thoughts and feelings behind my procrastination as far as writing goes. In a way, I may be deluding myself with the amount of “work” I’m doing. But it isn’t really progressing my writing skills. I don’t have a solid “new” idea yet (EDIT: I’m working on something that’s really intriguing–at least to me–but the details still seem vague). When I think about it, I get excited. But that isn’t enough. I still haven’t picked IT up again. Yet.

Listen. I know that when I’m ready, the words will flow and I won’t be able to keep up with them. Until then, I’m on a lay over. But I wonder:

What do you do when you’re between projects, waiting for the next one to materialize?

What do you do to manage your time so writing–REAL WRITING–can happen?

What have you done in the past to kick-start yourself into action?

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6 comments on “Time Management, Where Are You?

  1. Lynn Rush says:

    Oh boy…time management. Yikes.

    Well, I pretty much write every free minute I can find. Lunch breaks, before work, after work and on weekends.

    What really helps me are writing retreats. Where I disappear for a weekend with one or two writing friends and we do nothing but write.

    Yep.

    Leave everything behind for two days except our computers. 🙂

    It’s tough. Hang in there. 🙂

  2. Danyelle says:

    I hear you!

    Something that works for me when the administrative (love this!) side of writing gets out of control is to use it as an incentive to write. I can’t check anything until I’ve written x amount. The chunks are small and manageable, I can only check each once before going back to writing x more, and help me especially when I’m not feeling like writing. 🙂

  3. Time Management??? What is this strange and exotic term you speak of??? Ha, ha!

    I have no idea how on earth I get my writing done! I have a full time job, kids, husband, the whole nine! I think it helps that I’m a fast writer! My mind seems to be at it’s best early in the morning, so I wake up at 5am and get some great writing done while I’m swigging down my jumbo size mug of coffee! It’s hard, but it’s paid off!

    Just don’t ask me about the laundry!

    xoxo — Hilary

  4. lbdiamond says:

    This is fantastic! The wonderful thing about commisurating is finding out that you’re not alone! LOL!

    Time management is indeed tough when there’s so many things to juggle…looks like y’all are pretty creative when it comes to fitting in some writing time. VERY important.

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    I’m liking the idea of a writing retreat…oh, yeah.

  5. My most recent method is similar to Danyelle’s. Yesterday I unplugged from the internet and told myself I was not allowed to plug in until I’d written 1000 words. Well, by the thousandth word I was on a roll and kept going till 3000! (which is a lot for me.)

    My productivity varies, and today I promised myself a hot bath with a good book if I could just reach the 1000 mark. I did it, but it wasn’t until evening.

    writing retreat = bliss!

    Thanks for this post!

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