Friday, July 30, 2010

Managing Your Time

I traded a few posts with someone the other day. They wanted to know how to manage all the things crowded into their life and still have time write, edit, revise, and all the others writers generally need to do to keep going. Part of my answer was to manage your time.

For some, time management is like breathing and for others it is rocket science. I think I'm somewhere in the middle. I know generally which tasks take longer than others and know which tasks are more important. I generally try to do the simple, small tasks first because I've found it leaves more time for the others. I also try to do tasks that others are waiting on first so that I can get them checked off and then do what I want the way I want to.

Sometimes it is not as neat and easy as I may have made it sound here and sometimes I just want to -- need to -- goof off. I also can get side tracked. For example, I frequently go to read my favorite comics in the morning. There have been times when I see an ad for something, a game, maybe, in the sidebar and it looks interesting. I decide to learn more and click the ad. Next thing I know I'm playing it and several hours have gone by. This was not my plan when I sat down, of course, I just wanted to real the comics and get to work.

The moral: you need self-discipline as much as you need skill in managing your time. You need to know how to strike a balance between your work and the rest of your life. I generally do this: when my wife suggests we do something together I do, regardless of where I am in my writing and what I was planning to do. Why? Because we don't do much together these days and I know my writing will keep. I can use the time to think about the current issues I face in my writing while I'm off doing other things. Additionally, I may use the experience with my wife in the next scene for all I know. So I better have that experience or the next scene could be deadly dull.

But like anything else, managing time requires practice, just like writing and self-discipline do. So get out there and do it. And be sure to leave time to enjoy yourself too. You'll need it.


Anonymous said...

Time management is still a challenge for me, despite the fact that I think I've learned to do it quite well. After the chaos that was my life while I was juggling full-time work, a rigorous Masters program and my family, what I juggle now seems simple in comparison. I have a dogged drive, however, to do as much as is humanly possible, and have to remind myself to stop and do things with my wonderful family. Just like you, whenever the hubby or kids ask me to do something with the family, I but my brain in check and go along with whatever they have planned. After 2 or 3 hours of "relaxing" I get antsy, but so does my autistic son, so we are both usually ready to call it a day at the same time. I also try to involve my children in the things I love to do. My daughter is a voracious reader, and I share whatever I can with her that is age appropriate. She is also an amazing artist, so I encourage her to draw when I draw.
Anyway, I'm always looking for any suggestions to improve on my time management skills even more, so if you have any, I'm sure people would love to hear them.

Rich Feitelberg said...

I gave a few of my techniques in the post. One reason I've not given more is they are automatic for me. But I will try to observe more closely what I'm doing and report back.

I should also say, that once you've been through a Masters program, time management is a non-issue. That's where I learn many of the techniques I use now. They even gave a talk on this during my orientation that first week I started attending.