When will there be time to write?

Recently I listened to an interesting TED talk by Laura Vanderkam about gaining control of your free time. As a renowned expert on time management, Vanderkam is sometimes invited to contribute articles on effective time management to various publications, and she provided some examples given by others on how to save time. This included being guided by the minimum timeframe when heating up meals in the microwave – if the range is 7 to 9 minutes, take it out after 7 minutes and potentially save yourself two whole minutes! Whilst I’ve often felt rushed and time-poor, I’m thankful that I haven’t become quite so literal about it. Yet.

My key takeaway from this talk was something simple but powerful. We all have the same about of time. 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week. It is what we do with this time that matters. There was an example of a successful, extremely busy woman who ran a business and had a family and multiple other commitments. During a time management study to help understand how she managed to cope with all of these demands, a water heater flooded creating chaos and mess. It required hours of liaising with tradespeople and cleaning up and getting things back to normal, time that was already earmarked for other things. Time didn’t stop ticking, but there is an elasticity in time in that it will shift to incorporate what is necessary. The water heater had to be fixed, and life and all of its associated commitments had to be flexible enough to be prioritised and slotted in around it.

Like most people I go through periods of time when work, family and the basic requirements of living (grocery shopping, washing, cleaning, sleeping) seem to take every available moment in the day. I catch myself moaning about not having the time to sit down to finish the last draft of the short story I’ve been working on, or tease out an idea that came to me on the cusp of consciousness. But if I’m honest and realistic, I can find the time to spend on something that brings me so much pleasure.

It might mean being less pedantic about certain things, or even something basic like getting up when I’ve had a meal rather than lingering with a sense of weariness. I know if I do get up and keep moving I feel motivated and far more likely to make use of the extra few minutes snatched here and there.

How do you find time for what matters most in your creative life?

[Photo: detail of red typewriter spotted in an op shop]

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14 thoughts on “When will there be time to write?

  1. My time efficiency varies with my energy levels. I find that being time efficient is tiring, and then I try and keep working even when i am tired and my efficiency levels drop. I guess the key is to take breaks and recharge my batteries. At least these days I give myself a power nap of 17-20 minutes each day after lunch. That helps considerably with the rest of the afternoon.

    • Thanks for sharing, and interesting to read of how beneficial a short nap is for your productivity. Sometimes it is tempting to push through but sometimes a short break can refresh you so much more
      😊

  2. I’ve been going to bed on time to make sure when I get up early I’m feeling refreshed and ready to go for an early morning writing session. For the rest of the day, I’m also not tiring myself out because I need more sleep and I’m more likely to do more productive things than lounge around watching TV. 🙂

    • Some great tips there, Jo. Having a regular sleep schedule helps me too, and I really notice the difference if something affects it. And turning off the TV – or watching less TV – makes a big difference too 😊

  3. When my children were young, I often didn’t find time for creativity. One of the benefits of an empty nest is it’s much easier to grab an hour here or there for writing. I don’t have loads of free time, but I also don’t have constant demands on my time anymore.

  4. It’s comforting to know that someone else struggles with time management in regard to writing. But I still need to find a way to fit it into my schedule. Good points in your post!

  5. My approach is to be aware of my energy highs and lows on a typical day. Being an early riser with my energy level at its peak in the morning, I slot time in the a.m. for exercise and work that requires focus, leaving less mindful activities for the afternoon. I also follow one of the rules I learned in a Franklin management course I took years ago, which is to assign a priority to everything I want to accomplish by the end of the day, and do things in that order. Whatever doesn’t get done gets reprioritized tomorrow. If only my top priorities are completed, I’m OK with that.

    • Thanks, Gail, and I like the sound of the approach to prioritization. I am better at this in my professional life and tend to be a bit more relaxed at home, but it is good to be reminded that there are times when it isn’t possible to get absolutely everything done, but by focusing on what is the most important you increase the chances of completing the essentials. And I love the way you have structured your day around your peak focus times – great idea.

  6. One other comment – I think that’s a great point that we all have the same number of hours each day. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are limited to 24 hours just like the rest of us, so it really is a matter of how we spend our time, not how much time we have.

  7. I schedule an hour for myself in the morning it is non negotiable. I always asks my self if you were been paid to do what you want for an hour would you and the answer is yes. So, why not love myself to do it for free 🙂

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