Sunday, September 26, 2010

Managing Time Can Help

There are 168 hours in a week (1,440 minutes/day). Watching "Dancing with the Stars" eats up two hours a week, a soap opera five hours and four more hours for a football game. These are 11 hours you could be writing if you evaluate how and where you spend your time and make some changes.

Draw a daily chart and account for as many hours and minutes as you can from last week. Include times you ate, slept, watched TV, read, commuted, worked, exercised, coached kids' soccer and wrote.

With a highlighter, underline all the times that are inviolate, e.g., eat, work, commute, church and family activities. With a different colored highlighter, underline all the activites that are necessary but flexible as to time such as walking the dog or grocery shopping. Finally highlight with a third color, activities that can be given up or traded with another family member...TV, menu plan, gardening, guitar lessons, daily trips to the gym or doing the dishes.

Look at the time you have free. Is it enough time to write as much as you wish? Can you organize your time better: menu plan and grocery shop the same time every week and only once a week or move your music lesson to immediately before bowling? If there still isn't enough time, evaluate your weekly schedule and make some choices. You may choose to give up watching DVDs or golf, trade chores with a spouse or hire someone to mow and shovel in order to give yourself more time to write.

Use your time wisely. While walking the dog or working out, record in a voice activated pocket tape recorder all the absolutely, Nobel prize winning, brilliant ideas that come to mind. Check to see if you can rearrange chores by shopping at off peak hours and buying a year's worth of writing supplies in August when there are back-to-school savings.

Value "gap minutes". Those are the times you stand in line at a store, watch a child's soccer practice or wait for the doctor. Take out your recorder or small notebook. Study people's mannerisms, speech patterns, social interactions and physical appearances. Make short notes so that when you get home, you have captured invaluable material to work into your stories.

After evaluating your weekly 168 hours and how you use them, develop an organized, realistic time schedule including as much time as you want to write. It may mean sacrifice. Do you want to "Dance with the Stars" or "Dance with Your Words"? Your time, your choice.


Angela said...

I totally agree. As I tire of each television series I had been watching, I vow not to watch the new season. "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice" went by the wayside this year. That's nearly 2 hours a week I can commit to reading or writing instead, and that feels like a great choice to me!

Jennifer Lamont Leo said...

This is a perfect post for Monday morning, when the whole week stretches before us. May we use our hours wisely! Lately I've been trying to get extra mileage out of my TV time by analyzing some of the stories, especially those I enjoyed. What was the inciting incident? How did the screenwriter or director build suspense? etc. Makes me feel like the time was not totally wasted, although I still do a lot of that, too.

Norm de Plume said...

Procrastination is an elephant in the room. Overcoming it adds hours to your week. I know from personal experience. I no longer procrastinate. I no longer feel guilty and I enjoy time to doing things I like...writing and reading. Your suggestion to assess how I use my time is highly effective

Nancy Owens Barnes said...

Lots of good ideas in this post on how to squeeze extra writing hours out of one's week. Making good use of "gap minutes" is a great way to become more aware of "real" dialogue by listening to the people around us and taking notes, which could then be incorporated into stories. Sifting through the hours of a week to determine how we use each one will, I imagine, reveal many surprises.