Monday, May 09, 2011
Blog Request: How Do you Get So Much Done
So the full question was --
You are doing a lot of projects--editing Crab Creek Review, writing 3rd manuscript, finishing up editing an eBook anthology, writing new poems, working on a longer nonfiction work and you have a family, etc.-- how do you manage your time? What do you suggest for others who don't have enough time to write?
I'll answer your last question first then work my way to your first question.
RE: What do you suggest for others who don't have enough time to write?
Well, the tough love answer is - You have enough time to write, you have just made other choices on how to spend your time.
* I hope that isn't a too big of an ouch, but I really believe it.
We are each given 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week (check out this book for specific time ideas-- 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think), what you do with these hours is *your* choice.
I think Bart's answer above is one of the #1 reasons writers don't write. My #2 guess would be television, Netflix, email, playing with iPhones, playing games, etc. #3 is they are burnt out from their "real" jobs.
We each get X minutes of freetime and we each chose how we spend those minutes.
Question 2: How do you manage your time?
I am overly aware of how I spend my time.
Even as I type this, I am aware I am making a choice to write this instead of work on a poem or finish up another project.
When I am on Facebook, I am aware I am wasting minutes of my day and try my very best to limit my time there (this is why I do Facebook fridays). Though my best time on Facebook is when I'm not on it. Really, it's a huge timesuck.
And I guess I'm aware of the timesucks I create or find. When I find myself in a timesuck, I purposely remove myself from it and refocus in a more productive way.
If I want some down time or a timesuck, that's another thing. Like - I'm going to give myself 30 minutes to connect with friends on Facebook and see what they are up to. Or deciding-- I want to play a few games of electronic Boggle.
It's being mindful of my use of time that helps me most.
As for the list of projects, it seems impressive all listed out like that, but I have a couple thoughts about those--
1) I don't work on everything at once.
Right now, we're finishing up Crab Creek Review, so that's my focus. In the next few weeks, it's the anthology. 2 weeks ago, I was working on my manuscript.
I choose my top priority and focus on that until it's done.
2) I don't count these things as successes until they are done.
It's not impressive at all to me for someone to *seem* busy. The fact that there's a list of all the things I'm doing doesn't impress me until they are complete. I just currently have a lot of projects--and to be honest, this is *more* than usual--but do not be impressed with me or them until they are complete.
I have said many times, "Jack of all trades, master of none." I think it can be some writers' downfall. They take on too much and never finish anything.
For me, finishing something is the goal, not *being busy.*
Honestly, I really hate being busy or seeming busy. This year, I've found myself busier than normal, and it's not my style. When I find myself too busy, I begin to make choices of how I want to spend my time and what projects I want to take on.
3) And when I find myself not writing, I write.
I change what I'm doing to something better. Writing. It's *always* better than reading the Huffpost or watching that 80's video on YouTube. (Maybe that should be t-shirt.)
But yes, I start writing when I realize I'm not.
4) I make 3-4 weekly goals I will achieve.
These are not huge goals, but-- do 2 submissions, finish Editors' Note for Crab Creek Review, revise 1-2 poems.
I'm easy on myself, but I'm consistent. I only make goals I know (and promise) I'll achieve. I email them to 2 friends every weekend and check in on how I did. We've been doing this since September and for me, that extra accountability is helpful.
But I guess the short answer to how do I manage my time is-- mindfully.
I'm not always perfect at it and sometimes (like last Monday!) have issues getting going and procrastinating. But I constantly try to do better. I fail. I fail and then I try to be better.
We aren't perfect and sometimes our imperfections are some of the best things about us, but just be aware what your timesucks are and avoid them.
And when I find myself not writing, I write.