Last week on my personal blog, I shared my struggles with basically managing my life around family, my online job and writing. Since it resonated with so many of my readers and fellow entrepreneurs, I wanted to repost here today. The following may contain words my fellow procrastinators will not want to acknowledge.
Something that’s come to my attention lately is just how much of a procrastinator I am.
Okay, scratch that, I’ve always been a procrastinator. Over time I learned to manage and stamp back that evil villain in my brain that wants to laze about and read books all day. So I suppose a better way of putting it, is I’ve been perpetually distracted. Yes, that sounds better, doesn’t it?
I worked in childcare with infants and ran an after-school program for five years. Every hour is planned out and structured with bouts of “free play” at least for the kids. In the baby room, naps (if you could get them to take them around the same time) gave us a much needed break. So the poor student I had been was gradually replaced by a more mechanically minded creature. Like most college campuses and 9-5 jobs, I became a well-oiled automaton.
After this I worked in a real estate office and as a part-time personal assistant to a family friend. Both these gigs reinforced the concept of time management. I mean, sure you can try to accomplish all your tasks without a personal schedule, then watch your job disappear magically one day, right?
So what is it about authors and online entrepreneurs (my current gig 😉 that makes it so much harder to create that structure?
You already know the answer, don’t you?
These days, it’s not so much I don’t want to schedule and block out solid work/writing time. Rather, it’s the constant sludge of distractions barraging my inbox, sometimes my face, every day. Technology and social media have become necessity for an author or entrepreneur. But they’re the worst time sucks and killers for productivity.
If you haven’t already, take a hard look at your day. How much time are you spending at work and with family, not to mention errands and chores. Now how much time are you spending with your blog, or writing your novel? How much time gets ate by social media and e-mails? Kay now be honest with me, really, how much? Yep, that’s what I thought 😉
I’ve been taking countless notes alongside the Women In Publishing Summit videos/audio tracks. I bought the All Access Pass because I ran out time to watch things free during the set week. It has been more than worthwhile. Without sounding too much like a commercial, it’s been amazing. Enough to make me wonder why I avoided online conferences/workshops before this. Anywho, moving on…one of the videos I watched last night was all about productivity and time blocking.
I bought a new planner recently but haven’t been as consistent with it lately. So listening to this video was the opportune wake-up call for me. I took a brutal look at my habits and the reality of everything I have to do each day means, not only do I have no excuses, I don’t have a choice.
Between motherhood, obligatory household chores, plus work, writing, blogging…you get the picture…I can’t afford to not schedule out my life.
Last night I decided to start fresh.
This morning I woke up, enjoyed a cup of java, ate some breakfast and did a quick sweep of the e-mails. Since my toddler was down for his nap not long after, I was free to put on the headphones and listen to another Women Summit video while answering e-mails and managing We Write Fantasy (thank God for women’s penchant for multitasking.)
So far, so good. And for once I actually made tracks with e-mails.
Right before I settled in to begin my online assistant work the power went off.
Oh the bitter cruel irony! I thought. But then, instead of putting it all away to go outside a bit, I was able to write most of this blog post. Again, it’s all about what you make time in your life for. I’ve done this in the past successfully. Somehow, I forget how to do it every time I get lazy aka “Winter Break.”
I’m happy to report the power came back on no more than an hour after, so I was able to complete my day job tasks. Much of my day job is me managing Facebook pages, websites and e-mails with clients. So you see my conundrum, and how easy one thing can bleed into another.
For example, I keep all my writing notes and manuscripts online. This is nifty, but then I check my box for a certain thing, then while I’m already in my e-mail, I decide to tackle another endless to-do. It’s a vicious thing. Truly, the best thing you can possibly do is prioritize the heck and guard your time. If you’ve set aside time to catch up on personal e-mails (I recommend once in the AM and once in the PM) only answer e-mails. If you’re taking a break, don’t check your facebook or any apps on your phone for that matter. Enjoy a good book. Go outside, maybe even exercise. Be in the moment.
Above all, if you set aside a few hours in your day, or even thirty minutes, to write, you better darn well write.
Don’t say you’ll write, then hop onto your e-mail or facebook later. You will never write your book that way. Not happening. You’re cheating yourself out of time you can’t get back.
It isn’t just your work and writing that do and should take up your time. The most important thing is the people around you. They will help you patch up the crazy and help you relax when you need to step away from it all. I have a toddler who I care for (thankfully with family help) and focus on throughout the day. I have a husband who loves to hang out and watch shows at night. While he is also happy sitting by me playing video games while I write or work, sometimes I have to make sure I give time to him as well. It’s important to spend time with the real-next-to-you peeps in your life. Ignoring them just makes you a grumpy Hemmingway. Don’t be that guy.
Which makes it all the more important to guard and structure your time. The flighty artist that lives in my soul protests against such rigidity, but the savvy former office assistant in me knows better. Buy a planner, set up your Microsoft or Google Calendar and write out the important things you need to do each day. Then be mindful of your time. Don’t just talk a big talk. Follow through and do it. You’ll be amazed by how much you can accomplish in a day 🙂
Before you go, don’t miss Melissa Wright’s productivity tips!