Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 12: Taking on Time Management

Almost halfway through the challenge you've ideally already come up with some great methods for managing your time wisely.  Ideally.  But if you are like me, then you're still struggling to figure out how to fit a few hours of writing in alongside diaper changes, feedings, preschool, playdates, snuggle time, etc.  In the hopes of overcoming these challenges I've done some research and found some great time management advice.
  • 1)  KEEP A DAILY TIME LOG.  If you think you lack the time to write, try keeping an hourly log of your activities.  Do this for a week and then take note of any patterns of time wasters you see.  Too much TV?  Too much internet surfing?  These diversions are fine in moderation, but if you have a tough time writing because you're wasting your time with distractions give the old kitchen timer a try.  Set it for 10 minutes of internet surfing or a half hour of TV watching and when it rings get back to the tasks that truly matter.  For a great time charter check out this time log or make up one of your own.  Also, take this completely superfluous survey to see if you're a time waster
  • 2)  FIND YOUR HAPPY HOUR.  Whether its first thing in the morning or an hour before bedtime there should be some time set aside during your day to write uninterrupted.  Even those of us with young kids can give ourselves at least an hour.  It may mean sacrificing some sleep to wake up earlier or giving up some TV time with the hubs to go upstairs and write - whatever you choose, be consistent.  If you've programmed your brain to go into "writing mode" about the same time each day - and if you tell that same brain that you'll only be working for an hour so stop bugging you about the dishes in the sink or the pile of laundry on the floor - then you'll find your muse becomes less and less elusive with time.
  • 3)  SET A WRITING GOAL.  Before beginning (this MUST be done prior to the one hour of productive writing time), set some goals of what you hope to accomplish during your happy hour.  This might be a particular word count, a scene, maybe outlining, or perhaps editing.  Make the goal concrete enough that you can tell with certainty at the end of the hour if the goal was completed, neared completion, or was unrealistic.  (With time and experience you will begin to know your writing style and will be more capable of setting realistic, achievable goals).  
  • At the end of the hour (again, this should not be done DURING the productive writing time), take stock of how well you did with your time management.  How many times were you distracted?  What caused the distractions?  Were these distractions of your own making (email, research, facebook, twitter)?  Do you think that a different hour of the day is required to help you avoid distractions not of your own making (kids needing attention, phones ringing)?  To help you track your productivity check out the Writing Time Tracker in this series of amazing worksheets for writers. 
  • 4)  DON'T ASK FOR TIME.  The above advice has been geared toward all Mommy Authors, not necessarily those doing the 30 day writing challenge.  Clearly those of you involved in the writing challenge will need more than an hour a day to accomplish your goal, but if you think you will find the time by asking others (nicely!) to accommodate you, you might be mistaken.  Victoria Lynn Schmidt says in her novel Book in a Month,
"While writing may be important to you, few people in your life will see it as important. Many will just see it as an unnecessary indulgence. Asking them to help you find time for writing just won’t work.  Of course if you had a major circumstance or emergency these same people would give you all the time you needed, so the time is there. They just might not see writing as worthy of it. You have to decide writing is worthy of that time, and then just take it."

  • If you think those around you have a tendency to write off your writing (pun intended) then ordering that pizza or neglecting to scour the bathroom for another week may be the ways you can find the extra time you need.  By expressing your enthusiasm and excitement for all that you've accomplished with the time you would have spent scrubbing the toilet you can show the "doubters" that you are not only serious about your writing, but that you are using all of your time creating something that you - and hopefully they - can be excited about.
For more great information on time management check out these resources:  "4 Tips for Making Time to Write,"  "Time is Not on Your Side,"  Book in a Month

MY DAY 12:  A fabulous day for me as I was able to write for 6 full hours (not consecutively, of course) and get three full scenes done.  Two lessons learned:  1- Saturdays can really be great when you've got a supportive, non-busy spouse to watch the kids, and 2- no place makes me so careful and productive with my time as the library.

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