Where did the time go?

I’m behind in listening to the I Should Be Writing podcast, but back in . . . episode 199, maybe? . . . Mur Lafferty suggested writing down all the things you do that take time. She wasn’t saying you have to actually write down how much time you spend on e-mail or playing computer games or reading with your kids, just that anything you spend significant time on (personal grooming excepted) should be on the list. The idea is that your top time priorities (family, work, whatever) are probably not going to change, but as you look at things lower down the list, that’s where you can find more time for writing (or drawing or quilting or crocheting or whatever your own interest happens to be).

It’s a scary exercise. Sure, obviously, I’m going to put down time on the computer — but to be completely honest with myself, I have to divide that up because some of that is work (copyediting, proofreading, indexing, marketing my freelance business), some of it is writing or writing-related (writing, research on markets, e-publishing my works, submissions, research for stories), some of it is social interaction (Facebook, Twitter, blogging, reading and commenting on blogs, on-line chats, Forward Motion), and some of it is just plain goofing off (and sometimes, research and social interaction belong here, along with any computer games, reading Webcomics, following random links, looking at the new free books available for Kindle or Nook apps, and so forth). I’m not really good at drawing the lines there, and to a certain extent, I need both the social interaction (my husband being the only adult I see on a regular basis) and the puttery aspect of not having my brain going full-blast all however many hours I’m awake.

At least I know where I need to work on things. Writing needs to take precedence to Facebook and Twitter. Puttering should only happen after I’ve worked or written for the day. The work/writing duo is something I’m not sure what to do with. I find it hard to work on my own words when I’ve been devoting my brain to somebody else’s for most of the day, but because the freelance work represents actual (rather than potential) money, it has to take precedence. Maybe, practically speaking, I can’t work and write on the same day. If true, that’s just one more reason to make sure writing happens before puttering. *sigh* Guess that means I won’t be checking out what Agatha’s up to first thing Monday morning.

This doesn’t even take into account the off-line things I do with my time, from running errands to weeding and planting to quilting to reading and so on. And a lot of days, it’s one of those or writing, not both. (There’s a reason my son complained the book I handed him earlier today was covered with dust. Housework generally isn’t high on the list.)

What about you? Where are you spending your time?

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  1. Bonnie talked about the working-writing problem with her editing/writing dilemma and I find that happens to me as well, which is why I’ve switched my schedule so that I write in the morning then work in the afternoon.

    • Yes, I saw Bonnie’s post. Thought it amusing we both talked about that the same day. The problem is that I’m really aware of how little time I have to myself — 6 hours during the school year — so I do put the guaranteed money first in that time. Actually, my most productive writing time historically is 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., but that time slot really hasn’t worked for me since the girl was born.

  2. I think I spend too much time at the family business helping out there. I’ve been wanting to go part-time or quit altogether, but they really need the help and I’d feel terrible leaving them high and dry. Especially since it’s just my sis-in-law (the parents are semi-retired). But then if I’m there and get my work done early (happens a few times a week), I’ll do marketing, e-mail, and some writing. That way I’m taking full advantage of my day. Sadly, on productive days, I often end up writing into the wee hours of the night, so I’m not getting as much sleep as I should.

    • I hear you. You have to support the family, of course. Do try to get some sleep — it helps with most everything else.

  3. Lately, I’ve been wasting way too much time lost in my own thoughts. I think its a sign of my mood.

  4. I remember that episode (I’m way behind as well). A few years ago I read Julie Morgenstern’s Time Management from the Inside Out, which introduced me to the concept of a time map – basically you schedule everything you need/want to do in a week. It really opened my eyes to how few hours there are.

    I’ve cut so many things out of my life, but I still need time to goof off. At some point my brain just needs a break.

    • I’ve tried mapping my time for a week, but one of two things happen — since I really want to get lots done, I figure things won’t take as long (say, half an hour rather than an hour) and schedule more things in; or I look at a heavily regimented schedule and rebel by doing nothing. I know I just need to face up to not being able to get as much done as I want — but I don’t wanna!

      Good for you for realizing you need the time off!

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