Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Want to Write (or Read or Sleep) More but Can't Find the Time?

by Pat Stoltey

I follow a blog called Zenhabits from Leo Babauta. Back in November 2009 I recommended a post called The Little Rules of Action to my own blog followers.

There are a lot of things I like about this post. It's simple. It's direct. It's true. I'm not going to summarize or analyze it here. Leo Babauta does it exceptionally well without my interpretation, and I recommend you drop by Zenhabits and see for yourself.

Based on the ideas from ZenHabits and other time management gurus, here are my personal habits to decrease distractions and increase my writing time:

1. Multi-tasking is out and focused serial-tasking is in. I pick a priority task, focus, finish. I work on one thing at a time.

2. Every blog post I read does not require a comment. As a result, I read more blog posts now. I still register as a unique visitor on the blog's stats, so the blogger benefits when I stop by.

3. Too many lists, Yahoo! Groups, and newsletters eat valuable time. I gained almost two hours a day of writing time by stuffing those e-letters and e-mail digests into folders in case I want to read them later. I suspect one day I'll delete the contents of those folders unread. I haven't missed them.

4. I try to consolidate my errands and appointments so I don't have to go out in the car every day. Every time I leave the house it costs me at least an hour of writing time.

5. Practiced relaxation makes it easier for me to write (and to sleep). If I concentrate on relaxing and dropping my shoulders, I find my whole body relaxes.

6. When I sit down to write a blog post or work on my novel, I just write. Revision and self-editing come later.

Have you been distracted lately? Overwhelmed by the number of tasks on your To-Do List? Can't seem to stop editing as you write? Read The Little Rules of Action and see if there's a way you can apply some of these simple steps to your own writing life.


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - You are so right about the need to make the most of one's time. I like your ideas about managing your day. I've found exactly the same thing about errand-running. It's never "just for one thing," is it.... I'm going to have to read those other little rules...

Shannon said...

Great suggestions, Pat. One other thing I do since I work full time and have a regular schedule. My writing time is set in stone and I write during that time (crazy-early) and nothing else. One hour a day doesn't seem like much but a book gets built pretty quickly. Editing, revising, plotting are for days off.

Carmen said...

I've been struggling with this lately. I'm a new writer, though I've blogged for about 1 year and a half, so I don't have a routine yet. Between 4 kids, school starting, vacations, etc., it just seems like I can't get started and it is killing me. I am finally going to a writing group tonight. I've been following them for over a year but am just now going to my first meeting. At this rate I'll be grey-haired, wearing a diaper, and using a walker before my first novel gets published! Thanks for this. I'm glad I took the time to read it! LOL!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Margot -- If I didn't bundle my errands and organize the route, I'd be out in my car every day. Errands are big time wasters.

Hi Shannon -- one hour a day works a lot better than "whenever." :)

Carmen, you'll find writers groups (at least the good ones) help motivate and inspire us to find the time and "just do it" -- As for being a late bloomer, my first book was published when I was 65 -- I already had grey hair but the rest of me is working just fine. It's never too late. In the meantime, write every chance you get.

Kay Theodoratus said...

Nice list of good habits.

Write more.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'm in the revision/editing stage of my manuscript, Kay, but plan to start a brand new novel on November 1st, and this year I'm going to participate in NaNoWriMo without fail.

linda collison said...

Pat, I SO needed to read this! Thanks for telling me to quit multi-tasking and FOCUS. As for NaNoWriMo, I participated a few years ago and it was very energizing. I will someday polish that novel and submit it!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

People ask me why I'm not on Facebook or Linked In or other sites. Like I need another distraction!

Anonymous said...

Perfect timing. I was just trying to juggle my day. (While totally cheating and reading blogs instead of doing my work. But it IS lunch after all.)
Taking your advice, dropping my shoulders, remembering to breathe and focusing on relaxing while doing.
One thing at a time.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Linda -- I've heard good and bad experiences from NaNoWriMo participants, but I look forward to writing daily for a change. Maybe I'll create some new good habits.

Alex -- as the ultimate networking blogger, you don't really need those distractions. You're doing just fine.

Thoughts -- blogs are like siren's songs, luring us into procrastination. But if you're reading blogs anyway, stop by mine anytime. My Monday guest was RMFW member Mike Befeler, author of a geezer lit mystery series. :)

Giles Hash said...

Time management is a lesson I'm constantly learning. I'm not great with it, but I'm getting better as I get older and busier. :D

Edna Pontillo said...

Excellent! Thanks Edna

Marlena Cassidy said...

I always feel bad for not commenting, so I always do it. But I can definitely start working on some of those other habits. Thanks for the heads up and the link, Patricia!