I’ve been asked my secret to time management. Honestly, I’ve never kept it a secret, it’s just no one wants to hear it.
I work my ass off.
No, let me put it in terms you’d prefer to hear. I put my energy where my mind flows. That sounds nicer, doesn’t it?
Yes, I have a day job. Yes, I run a small-winery. Yes, I write books on the side. Yes, I parent a 2nd grader. Yes, I’m married. Oh, and the hubby travels a bit for work off and on. Yes, I feel the demands of life, just as you do. I’m not gifted with some blessed life where I get to sit at home and eat bon-bons all day and write. I’m sure if I was, I wouldn’t get crap done either, because I wouldn’t feel the pressure to get shit done.
Pressure is a good thing, believe it or not, Ripley.
Yeah… So this spoon you have, it’s your life. It’s measured out in finite seconds and minutes and hours and days weeks and months and years. Once those are gone, you don’t get them back. Ever. Not to be morbid, but there’s a death that happens every moment, a death of possibility. Your possibility. Your potential.
First off, figure out where the line is between you and your job, if you haven’t already, and draw it. Keep the rest for yourself. No apologies. No looking back.
Now, it’ easy to simply push your goals off into the distance. Zone out in fruitless ways. I follow the maxim of: all things in moderation. (Especially, most importantly, moderation. 😉 ) Find your escapes, but don’t abuse them to the point of ignoring your dreams. Remember, you’re responsible for where your energy flows. No one else.
For instance, I’ve found ways to use time I’d otherwise lose. The netbook laptop I’ve ‘borrowed indefinitely’ from my hubby now fills in my time while I commute to and from work and while I take my lunch break at work. I write or edit then, using my time, not losing it.
Also, I have lists. A plethora! I have an app for groceries, so the moment I think of something needed, it goes on the list and then I’m back to whatever I was doing before. I keep separate to-do’s for purchases for the winery and the house, and to-do’s for stories and the winery and household needs. Once it’s on the list, I blow it off. I mind dump it.
Okay, now that you’re all about the organization, remember what I said about putting your energy into where your mind flows? Well, you can’t be all about the work either. It takes synergy to expand and grow, and for that we need to connect with those around you. Your family, family of choice, and friends. Get yourself recharged for the next foray into the wild where you’ll use your creative energies as you see fit.
And to be clear, when I start working on my lists, I look at what needs doing first, what I can get done now, and I do it. If I can do more, awesome. If not, then it waits for another day. I take the must-do’s, things that will cost or gain me money now or have limited deadlines first and crank those out. Next, I keep the day-to-day flow of my ‘house’ in order. Why? Because if the tiny things like running out of milk or clean pants become an issue, I can’t focus on how best to torture my characters. Duh!
(Seriously, I have strategic grocery shopping down to an art form. I’m in and out in twelve minutes flat, cause I shop European style. Ever seen Parisians shop? They may look all laid back, but it’s quick and simple, let me tell you. Surgical strike mode.)
Next, I don’t give myself hell for not getting more done. Why? Cause I’m just one person, and I’m trying to do fifty things, and I get that. So what? I love having a million projects. The day I get bored will be never. It’s simply not in me.
Do I always get the high priority items done? Almost always. The other stuff? A good deal of the time. Yeah, whatever. I still get craptons done. Why? Cause it’s on the pile, and I make it happen. On rare occasion I stay up till all hour editing or writing cause I’m on a bender, but usually I try to pace myself. Pacing is key. Then again, so are the benders. Remember what I said about moderation?
Now occasionally I have a huge project, and I need help. What do I do? I ask around, gather forces and break it down into parts. I reward my laborers with pizza and beer and vino. I.e., I bribe them. Bribery goes a long way, let me tell you. So, when things are too big for just you, spread the wealth. Remember, you’re awesome, and your friends want to help you blossom and create all the fabulous crazy things you’re doing. Generally all you have to do is ask.
And yes, I do take time to chill out and have fun. Ask my friends, I’m the life of the party. Or better yet, don’t. Get busy bending your own spoon, buster! Then we can party when you’ve got something to celebrate. 🙂