Time management should be easy but of course that’s just the theory. We all know theory doesn’t always hold true in reality. Some days life gets in the way and time just disappears. We have so much more to do now; so many more tasks to squash into the working day, then there’s exercise, family, cooking healthy meals, and all the stuff we have to do to keep the home fires burning. No wonder we can feel tempted to switch off our minds and lose our focus on a screen-full of digital distractions. By the way if focus is more of a problem for you than time management then I recommend you read my article about the Pomorodo technique – this really helped me recover my focus after some health issues affected my concentration.
TIME MANAGEMENT AND THE GURUS
Time management gurus tell us to make lists. Don’t get me wrong I love lists, but sometimes I feel I’m just one list short of a whole book full of lists.
Too many lists can just make the problem feel even more overwhelming – especially when you realise that you haven’t managed to even tick off half the boxes on the list and you’re so busy you have to put off making tomorrows list until the day after tomorrow.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
With so many of us feeling like we are just too busy it’s not surprising lots of us are looking for really useful time management tips that will change our lives.
But sometimes when we put those tips into practice it can feel like we’re simply adding complication to complication, when what we do need is something very simple.
Here’s the truth: no set of time management tips, or task management system is ever going to change your life. No matter what gurus and experts say.
Remember that most of those who make the strongest claims are making money from selling you their books, their systems, their software, and all that stuff. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that but you do need to be aware that we just can’t all be like them.
THERE ARE ORGANISERS AND THEN THERE’S US
They are probably naturally very organised people who may even have quite a bit of help in maintaining their streamlined super organised and super successful lives. They manage to keep it simple – their area of expertise is organisation, whereas yours might be something else entirely. There is more about keeping your life simple here.
Since you are on a creative writing site I might hazard a guess that it is probably creative writing. I hate to say it but us creative types aren’t known for our organisation skills – rather the opposite in some cases.
You see we all have different skills and talents and some of us creative types can get so carried away with our creative tasks that we simply forget to keep ourselves organised along the way.
So if you are creative and not naturally organised then I would recommend that the best way to manage your time is to keep it simple.
KEEP IT SIMPLE – VERY, VERY SIMPLE
Make a list (don’t worry this will be a short list.) Simply write down the two biggest time-thieves in your life right now. If you’re like me it just might be a good idea to put the Internet high on your list. Or it could be television, or music, or chatting on the phone – think about it. Anyway here’s my list:
1. The Internet
2. Family and Friends.
THE BIGGEST TIME-SUCKER EVER
There was a time when a writer could choose to stay home and just shut their door, then simply sit down and write. Then came the distractions, radio, television and now, the biggest distraction and time-sucker of them all – the Internet.
Don’t get me wrong – I love the Internet. Every day I can bring the world straight into my house in just a few clicks.
I hate to admit it but hours can go by while I click from one interesting nugget of information to another even more interesting and useful nugget of information, and then, don’t get me started, there’s social networking – Facebook and GooglePlus. (So far I have resisted the temptation to take to Twitter.)
WHAT’S YOUR LIMIT?
So what’s the solution? Well here’s what I did: I decided the only way was to place severe limits on the time I would spend on social networks, reading internet articles, general surfing etc., by only allowing myself to do this one night per week and any time during the weekend.
Since visiting and caring for my elderly father on the opposite coast of Ireland to where I live, and trying to tame my badly overgrown garden takes up most of my weekends I can’t spend much weekend time on the net.
Placing limits has freed up more time than I could have imagined and I dread to think about the time I must have lost before I did this.
FAMILY AND FRIENDS
It isn’t just the Internet that makes it difficult to manage our time, there’s also our family and friends – all those great people we care about and who make demands on our time.
Sometimes we find it hard to just say ‘no – I’m busy. I’m writing.’ I’m not advocating being selfish either; there are times when our family and friends need us and we need to get our priorities right.
Still there are other times when people unwittingly take our time for granted and this is when we need to know the difference and say no. Still that can be difficult.
There are many reasons we can find this difficult: from not wanting to sound too ‘artsy,’ to just not being able to say no for fear of displeasing people.
In the past I admit I have found this very difficult and not every reaction has been positive when I explained I didn’t want to be interrupted. So how did I cope?
OTHER PEOPLE’S DISPLEASURE
I learned to cope with other people’s displeasure by reminding myself that I would never call in on someone else’s workplace unannounced and expect them to drop everything to drink tea and chat to me, so why should I feel guilty for expecting the same respect for my work place just because it happens to be in my home?
So, many of our day-to-day distractions are coming from technology and many are human. But what it really boils down to is being firm – with ourselves.
If you really can’t be firm with yourself then sit down comfortably, take a deep breath and try this question on for size:
DO YOU REALLY WANT TO WRITE?
Are you absolutely sure you want to find time to write? Think about this question very carefully. This might be difficult to accept but are you using your family and friends interruptions to shield yourself from potential failure?
The thought of failure can be scary and maybe it’s easier to tell yourself you never had the time to write because you were too busy looking after others than it is to realise that you didn’t write because you were afraid of failure.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND MORE PRACTICE
If you are afraid of failure then know this – everybody is afraid of failure, but if you reinterpret failure and call it learning then it doesn’t seem quite so threatening.
I have made mistakes. I have written stories people didn’t like but they were part of the learning process. Nobody will like everything you write – good or bad.
I regard those unsuccessful stories as practice and one thing I have learned is that writing takes practice, practice and more practice.
So, if you really want to write then you have to tell any ‘interrupters’ that come along that you are busy. Be polite but firm. Make sure you’re not using your family or friends as an excuse not to write.
It is your time and remember you can never get back the time you’ve wasted – so claim that time – it’s yours
Remember there are no refunds on wasted time.
Best of Luck
P.S. I hope this has helped you. All the information and tips on this site are free because I love encouraging others to share my love of writing, and if you have one more moment then all I would like in return is a simple comment, a like or a share. Thank you and the very best of luck with your writing.