IF YOU'RE anything like me, then you'll know what it is to struggle with time.
There are so many things that I want to accomplish. My first novel is mid-revision. I'm working on a collection of short stories, while maintaining a blog. There's also a tantalizing idea for a novella, just begging to be written, buzzing around in my mind. Not to mention those half-finished stories just sitting on my hard drive and the five dozen books on my to read pile. Phew!
Having a full-time job, though, takes up a lot of my time (after all, a girl's gotta eat).
So what do you do?
First of all, check out this blog post. Today's post is an extension of that. Or, if you can't be bothered to click away, check out these five MORE ways to make time for what you love -- writing. :-)
1. Make up lists -- I tend to be more productive when I'm working through a checklist. Not only does it give you a sense of accomplishment, but you'd be amazed at how much difference a little scrap of paper can make on a busy day. It can be hard keeping track of what needs to be done and when. Your poor multitasking brain can't possibly be expected to retain all the information it's fed. At the end of each day, take some extra time to list all the things you'd like to accomplish tomorrow. When you wake up the next day, you can then work your way down your list, leaving your mind free to focus solely (almost) on the task at hand.
Wunderlist is a great task managing app that you can use with pretty much any device. Using one account, it will sync to all your devices so that you never need be without your daily lists. I can also recommend Trello, which is what I've been using for the past couple of weeks. Of course, good ol' pen and paper will also do the trick!
2. Set realistic goals -- When you have unrealistic expectations, your productivity is only going to plummet. You know where you want to be, but there's so much to do before you get there. You can't seem to make yourself focus. You put it off, promising yourself that tomorrow will be a better day. But that day never comes.
Stop, and envision where you want to be. Take a step back and start mapping how to get there. Planning is the key here. You're not being productive because you're overwhelmed by the sheer size of your target. Break it down into manageable chunks and take it step by step. Remember- slow and steady wins the race.
3. Time Management -- It's your lack of time that is holding you back. Surely, you just need to wait until you have more time, right? Wrong. You will always feel like you need more time. The fact is, you will never get it. Stop waiting for the right moment and make the present moment work for you. Manage your time to fit more into your day. What inessential things can you cut from your day, or your week, to maximise your time?
4. Pre- activity rituals -- You finally have an hour to yourself. But getting into the right frame of mind when you're not already there can be hard. It doesn't have to be an uphill battle though. By having your own pre-activity rituals or routines, you can retrain your brain to work for you. Doing the same few things before you begin each session will help you get into the right frame of mind to write. It doesn't have to be much. It can be something as simple as making yourself a cup of coffee, or setting your work space in a certain way. Make a playlist of songs that get you motivated and listen to it for 30 minutes. What ever works for you. You may subconsciously already have one. Embrace it!
5. Take time off -- Finally, take time to refuel every now and again. It's okay to push yourself. Hell, sometimes the only way to get anything done is keep going after you hit your limits. But you can't do this indefinitely, certainly not without sacrificing quality. It's important to take a step back every once in a while. Take some you time. Read a good book, have a hot soak, treat yourself to a lie in instead of setting the alarm to work on that project. When you reach burnout, it can take twice as long to refuel than if you'd just stopped a little sooner.
Here's some food for thought -- you accomplish more when you enjoy what you do. Find your passion and stoke the fire at every opportunity. Do what you love; smile, laugh, always aim for more.
Never settle for anything less.
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Author of short fiction and journals for writers.