Time Wanted & Wasted: A Writer’s Lament

As some of you folks may know, I am on a sabbatical for the summer and working on several projects. The first is my health since sitting at a desk for the last two decades  has left me in dire need of exercise. The second is our house. We’ve decided to put in a new kitchen and otherwise spruce the old girl up ahead of refinancing . The third is writing and the fourth is helping my eldest son with his recent diagnosis of Juvenile Arthritis. Actually, it’s more me navigating the unholy amount of paperwork that comes with such a diagnosis. My boy is handling it like a champ.

I imagined that after working long hours for many years, taking a break would be the equivalent of going from splashing in a pond to swimming the ocean. I’d have so much free time, right? Wrong. So. Very. Wrong. Going from a strict schedule to no schedule makes it a challenge to get anything done. That sounds counterintuitive, but after living an entire month of it, I’m convinced that having all the time in the world makes you more apt to waste it. It’s a kind of a cruel coincidence that now that finally, I have the time I need, I end up mucking about and it disappears like water out of a leaky bucket.

I tried a few time-honored methods (alerts on my phone, planning out the day on paper, etc.) and they all failed – miserably so I have now resolved to create a daily, set schedule for myself. I am going to keep exercise, paperwork tasks, scheduling stuff, the ‘business’ of life all in the early morning, appointments mid-morning, and save afternoons for house projects. The evenings I’m keeping free for writing since that’s usually when I’d write when I worked full time. We’ll see if this does the trick or if the time continues to slip through my fingers like…

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Poor Raccoon.

The rule I had to tack on today was that if I’m writing, the internet is off-limits. Perfect example? Just now I thought I’d check Facebook, a quick peak, but I spent twenty minutes looking on Youtube for the Michael Card version of Come Thou Fount because a friend posted a different version of the song on Facebook and I wanted to share what I think of as the best version ever. (Apparently even hymns are a place for me to be opinionated.) Luckily, I realized I was mucking about again and hopped back off. Lesson learned.

Years ago I took a time-management seminar and the first thing the instructor said was that time management didn’t exist. No human can manage time unless they’re rocking a superpower. Self-management on the other hand, that’s what we were all there for. Most of her tips were pretty specific to middle-managers, but she also went over a common tool for time management. I’ve seen multiple versions of this, but the Eisenhower Matrix is probably the best. The idea is that you spend your time on stuff that’s important, but not urgent. Crisis have to be handled, but something is up if you’re spending all your time on them. Busy work should be delegated and the stuff that’s not important or urgent, should be kept off your plate. It’s hard to do this with home stuff, but it’s a guide to how to spend your time.

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So, kind readers, Are you the Empress of Efficiency or the Prince of Productivity? Have any tips? Share them below.

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