Thursday Thoughts: A Writer’s Time

One thing many writers find to be challenging is time management. That’s especially true for those of us like me who also have a full-time job, family, perhaps even a small business aside from writing, but I think it’s something just about all writers wrestle with at one time or another. You think you have a whole evening (or – gasp! – a whole day!) so you take your time getting around to the writing, hurp-durp around on the Internet some, check your email 20 times, play a few computer games, then finally sit down to write… and next thing you know, you’re falling asleep at the keyboard. You look up, and it’s midnight. Where has the day gone???

Add Facebook, Twitter, and trying to build an Internet presence into that mix and… well, for me, the scenario above was becoming an all-too-common occurrence.

Chart - how I was spending my timeDaily goals were not being met. Weekly goals – halfway, if that. Yet, I still felt like I’d been busy! So I did something I learned in a time management course, way back when: I analyzed where did my time go… and where did I want it to go each evening?

A few things were immediately apparent: I was spending way too much time goofing off, and way too little writing. And too much time accomplishing too little (that big, light-blue block of “I don’t know”). Also, notice what’s not there: attending to the writing business, and exercise.

Chart - How I want to spend my timeI have five and a half to six hours from the time I get home from work, to the time I need to go to bed. I thought about how I thought my evening should break down, and this is what I came up with:

  • A half-hour for exercise (bonus: I read while on the treadmill)
  • An hour to read/answer email and hit social media
  • An hour and a half for dinner, and spending time with family, feeding the critters, etc.
  • An hour for doing personal/family chorse, like personal paperwork
  • An hour for writing – that’s actual writing, planning on the WIP, or revising
  • A half-hour (average) for writing -business stuff: updating my website, blogs, designing promo materials, etc.
  • A half-hour of downtime (usually playing computer games)

I read before I go to bed, that’s not counted in the above.

I came up with this “schedule” on Monday. So how has it worked so far?

Monday – so far so good, but didn’t get the paperwork done so that went over into Tuesday.

Tuesday – I ended up fighting with OpenOffice for an hour, because my manuscript had somehow become corrupted and my editor couldn’t open it. Sometimes stuff happens. This ate into my writing time. Last week, it would’ve killed it. Tuesday, I still got a half hour in on the WIP.

Wednesday: worked out almost exactly as planned, expect I spent more time on this blog, twiddling with the charts. I’m finding that the exercise is much more likely to get done if I do it right after I get home from work (I’m soooooo not a morning person, so getting up earlier is not happening).

The thing to keep in mind is this is a guideline, not a must-do. But so far it seems to be helping.

How about you? Do you have trouble with time management, whether or not you’re a writer? If you’ve found anything that helps, please share!