Elaine R. knows there are many sayings linked to time management, such as:
“Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today”
“Time and tide wait for no man”
But what is it? In very simplistic terms, it’s what it says; it’s managing time, which we do every day. It’s getting the children to school on time, cooking the dinner or baking a cake. For me, working full time means time is an important commodity.
Everyone has things they want, as well as, have to do, but only twenty four hours a day. Breaking time down, depending on circumstances, would probably look something like this:
Sleeping – 8 hours
Travel and Work (Full Time) – 10 hours, this includes time to get ready and eat breakfast.
These two basic requirements take up a minimum of eighteen hours every day, leaving six precious hours. There are also things that are difficult to measure like:
Family, Cooking, Housework and Shopping
These will vary every day. In reality you’re lucky to have two or three hours a day left for writing, suddenly time is very precious, no matter how tired you are.
The question: can the time be utilised for writing your novel or short story?
The answer: It’s all in the preparation, the same as cooking a meal or baking a cake. I eat, breathe and sleep writing, therefore I keep note pads and pens with me for research, jotting ideas, listening to comments, after all they could be used for your characters. I people watch for exactly the same reason.
Management say to use the SMART method to set targets and goals, which is:
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound.
This method is useful and has been tried and tested, but it doesn’t necessarily take family life into account. I made writing goals for the Christmas period and, happy with my final decisions, I kept it to remind me. However, sickness and two family deaths knocked me for six, consequently all thoughts of writing disappeared. As I said, life sometimes gets in the way of the best laid plans.
How do I manage?
Initially I looked at how my time was spent and probably, like most people, watching television featured high on the list mainly because it was on and no-one switched it off. Times have changed. Pre-recording programmes means fast-forwarding adverts saves time and I don’t have to remember they’re on.
It’s essential to be organised, especially to achieve. Setting myself weekly, sometimes daily or even hourly targets and not beating myself up if things go wrong.
Planning my writing, deciding what I want to happen and when. This acts as prompts, especially if my mind goes blank.
Family always come first therefore quality time is important. Also household chores are spread around; actually, that’s an exaggeration, my husband does most of them.
The small changes I’ve made to fit writing into my life means my family are also doing other things instead of watching television because they also realise time is a precious commodity not to be wasted.
It’s all in the preparation, like baking a cake.