Tonya Kuper over at YA Stands offered up some advice last week about time management. I though it might be interesting to see what time management strategies I use myself.
- Eliminating “dead” time:
I used to be part of a lift-share on my commute to work. Two hours a days, five days a week wasted. There's nothing quite like traffic jams and that gentle rocking motion to completely wipe out your creative energy. These days, I get a bus to work. Which means for one and a half hours a day, five days a week, I get to do “research” (research is what I call reading YA books ;)). If I don't read at any other point during the week, I don't have to feel guilty.
The same applies for my lunch break. I used to work in the middle of the countryside and there was no where to go at lunch so the time would be spent chatting to co-workers and catching up on work-related tasks. Another big way to kill creativity. Now, I take myself away from the work environment, and though I only have a thirty minute break, I can use this time, at the very least, to think about my various writing projects. On a good day, I'll do some writing. On (most) other days, I'll just contemplate. The crucial element is that for thirty minutes in the middle of the day, I stop being an Administrator and become a Writer. I use this time to organise my thoughts and work out what I'm going to write when I get home.
- Using the weekends
Weekends are when I get to imagine myself as an actual author and conduct my day exactly how I would if I were doing this full time. I get a lot done on a Saturday and a Sunday. I also get to make up for all my short-fallings throughout the week. If I haven't hit a word count goal for my WIP or managed to revise a chapter of my MS, Saturday's the day I do it. Saturdays and Sundays are like being given 10 more week days all at once! They're also when I let myself do all the other stuff that isn't writing – agent research, goodreads, catching up on blogs, planning future novels, character profiles etc.
- Working less (aka having a job instead of a career)
I would love to earn a living as an editor or an agent, but editor or agent aren't jobs you can easily get. You have work hard and (usually) intern or (maybe) do an MA to even get your foot in the door. What I want more is to be an author. In other words: I have no time to intern or do an MA to help me get a "career". I have only time for a job. But what my job gives me that's far more important than career satisfaction (for the moment anyway) is the fact that I can leave it at the door. I don't think about it when I'm not there. I don't get the dreaded Sunday blues. I don't lie awake at night worrying about it. It doesn't make me so drained that all I want to do when I get home is watch TV (incidentally, I don't have a TV - another time management strategy). Add it together and I have so much more mental space to create.
Money is tight. But my motivation to be an author far out-ways my motivation for ... well ... anything else. And the longer I go not buying or wanting things, the easier it gets. That Salvi concert pedal harp can wait. There'll be plenty of time for driving when I'm old! A new ruck sack? But the last one has completely fallen to pieces yet! Right now, poor doesn't matter. Productive does.
- Working to my natural rhythm.
9pm, without fail, I get better at writing. I don't know why, but there's something about that time. I get more done from 9 - 10 pm than I ever can from, say 4 pm - 7 pm. Knowing that I will want to write at 9 and I will be better at writing at 9 and I will enjoying writing at 9 means that I can let myself be lax the rest of the time. It also means that I need to start at 8:40 because it always takes me twenty minutes to get into anything!
- Making Sacrifices
I'm lucky in that I'm an introvert. I find social interaction draining and need very little of it to get by. But prioritising my writing over friends, family and quality time with my boyfriend doesn't make me particularly happy. Unfortuntately, I have to. I have two families, six siblings, not to mention my "in-laws". I just don't have time to see everyone! And if I did, I'd be less happy, because I need to write! Sometimes, you have to put yourself first in life. You'll only become resentful if you prioritise other people's needs before your own. And anyway, that's what the "acknowledgements" page in your first published book is for!