Time. We all need more of it, don’t we? It’s like the old saying goes: There’s just not enough hours in the day. And while that is true, there is no need to just give up the fight to find a bit more time to write or revise or promote. I just think you have to be savvy about it.
I think of time as a budget. In an effort to maximize my household budget, I am aware of when certain items go on sale, the times of year we will need to have extra spending money on hand, the times of year when my bills are the highest and the lowest, etc. By recognizing these patterns in our habits and spending, I am able not only to save money, but also to minimize my stress and time expenditures. I’ve learned over time, that I can take these same skills that I use to manage my household and apply them to business and my hobbies—and you can as well.
I think the first steps to creating an efficient environment in your life is recognizing and tracking patterns and cycles in your personality and personal life.
So what does this have to do with writing? A lot more than you’d think because you have to create an environment conducive to writing. That requires not only blocks of time to get your muse on, but also a mind that is focused and free from clutter and stress.
Efficiency isn’t always about making the most of every moment. It’s about allowing yourself the space you need to succeed.
I’m a planner. If I know what’s coming, I can (and will) prepare for it. For instance, I am a chameleon. An introvert on the inside and an extrovert on the outside. Being around people exhausts me, but my job requires me to go out and be friendly…in big crowds of people. Over the years I’ve noticed a pattern. I can go to conferences and schmooze with the best of them, but I need recovery time. Because of this, I work my schedule out in such a way that I have some free time to be by myself and recharge after going to conferences and events. It may sound like a waste to take this time off, but I find that afterward I work harder and more efficiently.
So know yourself and make allowances. Do you always underestimate the time you will need for, I don’t know, everything? If so, start padding your schedule. Are you late everywhere you go? Then plan to be there early—that way you’ll arrive right on time. It’s the simple things that can lessen your stress and make you more efficient.
Next, know your life schedule. Are there certain times of year that you are less busy than others? Schedule your promotional and conference-going times during the times of year when going to them won’t wreck your life. Get out your calendar and make note of birthdays, holidays, vacations, and recurrent family events. If you know your summer is going to be consumed with softball and soccer, don’t plan the editing and revision of your manuscript during this time. If you know your work is always heinously busy during specific times of year, block those times out in your calendar so you don’t overextend yourself.
A little effort in recognizing the patterns in your life can make a huge difference and can lower your stress levels. Start setting yourself up to succeed. It will give you positive energy that will help you achieve even more. Frustration, failure, discouragement, exhaustion—all of it can strip the muse right out of you. Don’t work harder; work wiser. Small efforts in the right places will mean big results.
Now back to writing.