Time management should be easy but of course that’s just the theory. 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.
If you have a problem focusing and concentrating 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 make it worse – especially when you realize that you haven’t managed to tick off even half the boxes on the list.
With so many of us feeling like we are just too busy it’s not surprising we are looking for ways to change.
But sometimes when we put time management 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 ORGANIZERS AND THEN THERE’S US
They are probably naturally very organized people who may even have quite a bit of help in maintaining their streamlined super organized and super successful lives.
They manage to keep it simple – their area of expertise is organization, 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 we creative types aren’t known for our organization skills.
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 organized along the way.
So if you are creative and not naturally organized 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.
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.
Then, don’t get me started, there’s social networking – Facebook and GooglePlus and more.
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 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. Placing limits has freed up more time than I could have imagined.
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. This is when we need to say no.
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 would not expect others 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 out 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?
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 realize that you didn’t write because you were afraid of failure.
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.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND MORE PRACTICE
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.
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. If you have a 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.