I need a referee for my writing time. Someone in a striped get-up with a whistle to blow every time someone, steps out of bounds into my writing arena. I can see it now, the shrill scream of the whistle as the referee throws his arm out, screaming, “Out of bounds! You’re outta here!”
But, I haven’t been very lucky persuading my husband the need for another man around the house. Go figure. With that option off the table, I’m left having to re-evaluate my time management. Or, better yet find a balance.
The 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that 20 percent of our efforts produce 80 percent of your results. Boy, I’ve been working too hard! Perhaps, I’ve simply worked poorly. Trying to juggle family, friends, and trying to find time for writing. I can tell you, it hasn’t been working well. My output and creativity have suffered. I’ve been sidelined the last few weeks. On the bench, and out of the game. Why?
1. Distractions: The everyday kind. The phone. You know the thing that never leaves our hands or hips. The email or tweets that beep and chirp constantly. The house that needs attending. Grocery Shopping. Life. The unexpected.
2. Family and friends: Including the four legged kind. We love them, but family activities can be demanding on our time. Whether it is the child/grandchild, your spouse, the aged parent needing attention, or the dog who needs walking, there are only so many hours in the day. At times, it seems, everyone is pulling on our apron strings (so to speak).
3. And then there is work: I’m fortunate enough to be retired, thank God, but I understand the demands of a full time job. They can be exhausting. Add all the rest, and finding time for writing takes a lot of planning.
What to Do:
1. Be realistic and change your expectations. Otherwise you’ll lose the joy, passion and desire you had to begin writing.
2. Set a schedule. Work it into your day-to-day, but build in some flexibility for those unforeseen situations that will always arise.
3. Set Priorities. I know all about the hype on social networking. Tweet, LinkedIn, Pin interest, Facebook and the zillion other sites on the net. They are intoxicating, captivating and additive. They also can rob you of value time.
4. Focus: What is it you want to accomplish? A novel? Anthology of short stories, Self-publish an Ebook? Short fiction guru? Competition? Publication in literary magazines? All are great goals, and I believe one can do some of those things simultaneously. However, when time is an issue, can one do them well?
5. Re-evaluate your goals. When things are hectic it might be time to look over your goals. Are they too lofty, for right now? Too much? Too soon? Can you accomplish your project in smaller sections? In other words, take smaller bites.
6. Re-evaluate your time: Put your life and writing in perspective. 80/20 it.
7. Change it up. Do something different. Take a break. Breathe. Whether it’s reading a good book, different from your favorite genre, trying your hand at poetry or painting, make a change. Give yourself permission to relax.
I don’t need a referee and neither do you. We need perspective. Writing is about inspiration, fun and passion. Our words aren’t going anywhere, but family and friends do. Our kids grow up, move away, friends drift into their own lives, and parents grow old, forgetful and leave us. A little balance sounds good to me.