Friday, September 24, 2010

Making the Most What (Little) Time You've Got

My mind is on time management today, thanks to Debbie’s awesome post about how she manages to juggle her many projects. I have lots to juggle too, but it’s mostly my busy life -- two kids and their many activities, a part-time job, a dog , a husband and cable T.V. Possibly that’s why my writing progress often seems so slow [see my blog post here].

For me, writing gets about two hours a day, between getting ready for work and driving my kids places. Sometimes I get some “bonus time” on weekends or when everyone is watching a show I don’t like (but by the evening, I’m pretty tired so slumping down in front of the T.V. often wins out). I feel lucky to have my two hours, because I know that if I worked full-time, that would disappear. Even so, two hours can speed by pretty fast. Here’s how I make the most of it:

1. I actually use the two hours for writing. I do blog and read writing-related blogs, but I do it at another time (usually in the morning before the kids are up – I’m up at 6 a.m.; 5 a.m. if my husband is rowing). Same with critiques. I try to fit them in at other times, or maybe once a week. I try not to answer the phone. Otherwise, my whole writing time would disappear.

2. I try to write every day. This helps me stay connected to my story. Otherwise, I’d spend most of my writing time getting back into it.

3. I work on only one of my own writing projects at a time. I’d love to be developing some of the great ideas I have for my next novel, but I find that I’m mentally spread too thin if I think about more than one project at a time. I’d never finish anything. I also do a few educational writing projects, and sometimes I have to put my own writing aside to work on them.

4. I write everything down. I use a notebook to record thoughts about my writing. If I didn’t, they’d disappear. I’m also a list maker. I keep a list of what I need to do for my job, a list of what I need to do at home, a list of ideas for blog posts….Can’t you just picture my desk?

5. I read in every spare moment. There aren’t many of those, but if I’m eating lunch at home by myself, I read. If I have to wait for the kids to finish an activity, I bring a book. Before I go to sleep, more reading.

-- Andrea


  1. Thanks Andrea. I try to divide my time up too between reading, writing, blog work, critiques, etc. It's hard some days, and on weekends I am more lenient with my schedule.

  2. I'm a list maker too Andrea. Probably because of my Type A personality. But I do get joy of crossing things out.

    And I do try to write every day -- even if it's just notes or a sentence. It's very hard to get back into a story once you're out of its world.

  3. This is a great post. I like how you boiled it all down and talked about how your writing time was not blogging or critiquing time. When I was part time and lived right near my work I had a lot more time for writing but lately I'm done with my work around 8 pm and then I'm just tired. I get up at 5 and start the day all over again. I actually have time on weekends but I've been doing lots of fun family stuff then. So I think that's where I can find more time.

  4. Yeah, Christy. Now if only I could stick to it! This week has been filled up with things that cut into my writing time.

    Jessica, sometimes I get alot done on the weekends, sometimes nothing. It's mainly during the week when I try to stick to a schedule.

    Oh Karen, I love my lists! My second novel actually had a character who carried a notebook and made lists to herself (hers were much more humorous than things like "tidy desk" and "finish laundry".

  5. I bring a book everywhere. My Mom always said "If you bring a book, you always have a friend with you." And not using writing time for doing critiques is difficult, but it is very important. I could spend a lot of time critiquing for others, and I always think it should come first.

    Christy, sometimes your family needs time together. There's nothing wrong with recognizing it!

  6. Great post, Andrea. I write everything down, too -- I use my iPad or (if my iPad isn't handy) my iPhone.


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