Writers lead a double-life. Sometimes a triple- or quadruple-life. The work of living—for me that means homeschooling, homemaking and the business side of being a writer—along with the creative work of novel writing make up my triple-life. We’re all very busy. Have you noticed that “busy” has taken the place of, “Fine, and you?” in response to the question, “How are you?” And everyone is busy. I certainly don’t see that changing in my life anytime soon and I have no doubt that you can relate. And, trite jokes aside about cloning ourselves or wishes to add in an extra hour to every day, we can’t change the amount of time available to us. However, we can change our habits and perceptions—our ineffective use of time and our assertion that there’s never enough of it. Here are a few of the ways I “find” time.
Compartmentalize and Single-task
Stop multitasking. Seriously—just stop. Have you ever noticed the one consistent thing about multitasking? It doesn’t work. It’s neither efficient nor effective and tends to leave us feeling scattered and anxious. Instead, look at your to-do list and your schedule. Identify pockets of available time and compartmentalize your tasks into your schedule. I create categories. Mine include homeschool planning, creative fiction writing and blogging. I slide these tasks into my compartments and solely work on one at a time. Whether you are writing or tackling tasks on the to-do list, do one thing until it is complete and only then move on to another.
Do 3 Things
Or, depending on the demands of your life, do 6 or 2. You don’t have to do everything in one day—that is an impossibility and will only set you up for failure. (Guess how I know this personally?) Start out the day with a finite list of specific and manageable tasks—it can be a mix of writing and life to-do tasks. When the end of the days arrives and you have completed your 3 things (or 2 or 6), you’ll not only have chipped away at the to-do list, but you’ll feel quite accomplished. My dad always says do the thing in front of you—don’t think about all of the things you need to do. Just do the 3 (or 2 or 6) things in front of you. That’s not so overwhelming—don’t you feel proud of yourself now for getting those things done?
Use Your Best Time
What’s the time of day when you’re most energetic? Most enthusiastic? Most creative? (Most awake?) Plan to use that time to as your writing time. Don’t worry about the to-dos and everyday tasks. You can get to those at the other times during the day you designate for them. Use your best time to write.
Schedule It In
This is less of a time-management tip than a pragmatic one. If you want to write, schedule a specific time to do it. An hour a day, an hour a week—whatever you can manage. Once you implement this into your schedule, chances are you will find a way to make your writing time grow. The best way to get writing going is to start writing. Make writing time a regular part of your routine. It’s a good habit to cultivate. Can’t find an hour? Sure you can! Sitting at soccer practice, ballet, on the subway? Don’t surf Facebook—write. Or maybe knock an item or two off the to-do list.
Shift Your Perspective
As a writer and a homeschooling mom of 3 young children, “free time” is a luxury I only distantly remember. I often wonder, what did I used to do with all that time I once had at my disposal? Yes, my days are full, the to-do list long, the tasks demanding and the roles I juggle too many for one person. There is only so much time available to us in a day and sometimes the easiest and most effective thing you can do is change your perspective—look at it from another point of view. Stop thinking of time as your foe and accept that while your life is this busy, you may not accomplish everything in the timeframe you idealize. And that’s okay. Set your priorities, compartmentalize and schedule, single-task and do the thing in front of you. Breathe.
Okay, one last thing: I’m going to use the D-word now and please don’t be shocked or dismayed … Are you ready? Discipline. Ugh. I know. Can you believe I brought it up? What does that word have to do with using time creatively? Nothing except it strips time of its power! You take control and let time know what you’re going to do, not the other way around. See how that changes things?
About Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo
Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. She served as Senior Editor for www.HerCircleEzine.com, an online journal of women’s arts, literature and activism. She writes, unschools her kids, blogs, practices yoga, reads too many parenting books–mostly in her kitchen. Melissa obsessively drinks matcha green tea lattés which she loves so much that she plans her day around drinking them, which is ideally at 2:30 or 3:00 in the afternoon. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, son and twin daughters and is currently at work on several novels. The Mosquito Hours is her first published novel. Visit her website at www.melissacorlissdelorenzo.com.
About The Mosquito Hours
Three generations of women gather in an old rusted screen house each dusk—the mosquito hour—to excavate the secrets of life and bridge the social norms of the years between them. The Mosquito Hours explores tender human connections, the ways by which we navigate personal crises, the interaction of mothers and daughters, friends and lovers, all driven by the interweaving of this family of women. The Mosquito Hours is about that which sustains and the ways to begin to admit the truth behind your own life story.
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