Monday, October 11, 2010

Time Management

I sit down to write.

This takes a while. I wander throughout the house. I clean, I fuss, I do laundry, I make phone calls. I wander and wander, give myself imaginary tasks and then, when I absolutely can't avoid it any longer, I get in my office. Since I'm pretty good at avoidance, some days I don't make it in there at all.

Then I land in front of my computer. The blank screen. Well, I can't be expected to just jump into writing, can I? I need to relax into it. Mosey into it. Maybe flow into it, right?

So I check the news of the day on MSN, my homepage. Watch some video news, fume at the commercial spots as I watch the seconds count down. Ready to write now for sure. Oh, but I really need to check Facebook. And look, someone's posted some new photos. Then I look at a video they posted. Then I remember I'm supposed to be writing. Then I notice that there's a window I left up from another day of procrastination with some editor jobs in Phoenix. I look at those. Then I mull over whether I should I get a real job, like with pay? One is quite prestigious. What are the requirements? Wow, I'd barely have to lie to get it. Maybe this is what I'm meant to do with my life, not this interminable writing. Maybe I should put in for it. But I need my resume updated with my editor experience. So I pull up my last resume and I start sprucing it up to reflect the editor job I've been working for nearly two years.

I almost finish before doubt assails me. Do I want this job? What if I actually got this job? Could I handle a full-time job with my husband working 60 hours a week at our store? How would I go to exercise and my meetings? Who would pick up my kids? And take them to their myriad appointments? How would both kids participate in sports? And why did I quit my job six years ago where I made $35,000 for 18 hours of work only to sit here applying for a job that pays $40,000 for 40 hours of work? I'd better think about this. So I think about this for awhile. And then I think, look what time it is! I'd better hurry up and write. I have to pick up Daughter in ten minutes.

Pick up Daughter.

Get home with Daughter. Feed Daughter. Read mail. Clean kitchen. Help with homework. Get back in office. Whoa, I am really behind on blogging. Should I write a blog? Maybe I should read all my friend's blogs. Maybe I need to comment on my commenters? Wait a minute. I'm supposed to be writing. I pull up my book. I am now going to write for sure. The phone rings. Bar Mitzvahzilla's football practice is done. Done writing.

Pick up Bar Mitzvahzilla. Feed him. Feed Daughter again. Drive Bar Mitzvahzilla somewhere. I walk back in the house. I look right - my bed looms with comfy pillows on it and the remote controls for the TV set nearby. I look left, towards the long stark hallway to my office and the book I've forgotten how to write.

I turn right.

And the clock just keeps ticking.

Have any problems with procrastination? Is the Internet a big distraction? Does anyone else have this problem with not knowing what to do first? How hard is it to stick to a schedule when you're in charge of it?


  1. The adult version of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie". I fall into this subtle wooing of everything else when there is a job at hand over things much less noble than writing.

    BTW, Linda, I wrote about something you said to me a while back in my post yesterday. You've been a bigger help and voice of reason to me than you'll ever know.

  2. I ROCK with sticking with a self-made schedule!!

    it only took me...5 years of selfemployment to get here and, more than that, FEAR of my looming deadlines.

    I always thought Id outgrow my lastminutenessment (technical term :)) but at 41 I havent yet.

    It still takes knowing my editor is waiting!! to get me to stop staring at and get to writing.

  3. Do I have problems with procrastination?! Let's put it this way - as I was reading your post, I was thinking of other things I could find for you to do so that you could - you know - work on the book later - when everyone was asleep... I mean... I was afraid you were actually going to sit down and work on it. THEN - I started thinking of excuses to sit and watch a little TV late night.... so... if you need those excuses... I have them... Something about this time of year makes it worse, doesn't it? Anyway, I have an editing project and am doing the same thing daily :-).

  4. I am sucking really hard lately at time management. I feel like I'm trying to do it all, and doing it all badly. And Google Reader and Facebook aren't making things easier! I can definitely relate.

  5. Yes and yes. I once wrote about the concept of productive procrastination, taught to me by my husband:) In the mornings I find the internet most distracting, when my reader is full and I want to clear it out and visit blogs instead of starting my real day or getting to exercise class. Sigh.

  6. well, I am doing this instead of That ought to tell you something...lololol.
    I think you are disappointed with what happened with your book and you fear putting your heart into writing will lead to more disappointment so you don't do it. It's natural. maybe just try writing for you for a while. And ask your hubby if he would like for you to get a full time job while explaining all the things you would have to hire out. Dollars to donuts he thinks your time is more valuable than a paycheck.
    Big hugs.

  7. I believe I have elevated procrastination to an absolute art form. So any time (and I do mean any time) feel free to interrupt my procrastination and I will surely help you reach this next level. :)

  8. My procrastination habits vary from day to day. Some days, I am a model of efficiency; others, I lallygag with the best of them. For me, it seems that the more time I have, the less I get done, whereas if I have only a small window of time, I get down to business more quickly.

  9. My book has been on the backburner for so long now I have forgotten my main character's name. That can't be good...

  10. I am moving across the country in two weeks. I am trying very hard to overcome this procrastination. The pull to do nothing is much stronger than the pull to pack and organize.

  11. You clean your kitchen???


    I'm the most self-disciplined woman on the planet. Haven't had a choice. For years. That makes a big difference.

    You CLEAN your kitchen???

  12. You just described my day more or less. I decided that it was time to treat this writing job like a "real" job so here's my plan (I'm good at planning. I used to get paid to plan things.)

    At my desk no later than 10 a.m. (5:30-10:00 is housework, getting kids off to school, working out, breakfast, shower)
    Check email, Facebook, Twitter (10 minutes)
    10:15 (did you see that leeway?) Start working on manuscript
    10:30 Coffee break, check email, Facebook, Twitter, bank account, 2 other email accounts, Tumblr, Google Reader
    11:45 Back to work
    Noon: Other housework
    1:00 Lunch, fool around on internet while watching a movie or DVD
    2:00 Walk to mailbox, go through mail
    2:30 Back to work
    2:45 Coffee/potty break
    3:00 Finish watching DVD before kid gets home so she believes me when I say I "worked"
    3:30 Look at jobs websites
    4:00 Visit with kid
    4:20 Back to work
    5:00 Closing bell

    What was the question?

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  14. Ugh...the blank screen. Ugh...alone with my brain. Are you kidding? I always find better things to do than writing and then I complain I never have TIME to write. Things that have helped me is to not have a blank screen. I always leave a thought, a sentence, some kind of "energy" on the page so when I come back to it, the writing waits for me. The other thing that works for me is Judy Reeves' "A Writer's Book of Days." There are all kinds of prompts and mini-motivations to start me writing and keep me writing.

  15. The only way to write what people care to read about is to observe it. Observing life is not is easy as it sounds, right? As we observe, we begin to feel as though we are procrastinating. We have this absurd idea that we should working all the time. Seriously Linda, how could you write about the things you do, the things that have meaning to those who read it without "procrastinating". Enjoy the observing and living and keep taking notes and keep writing when it comes to you. Your procrastination may turn out some of your best pieces of work. I know I look forward to reading your words, sometimes even more the longer I have to wait.

  16. I don't have time to procrastinate. Ha! Mine is more in the form of guilt. "Wow, I should read my friend's blogs!! Oh, but there is a million dishes in the sink, toys on the floor, laundry spilling over..." Eck.

  17. You must be writing about me! My days fly by so quickly and I wonder where the time went.. and I realize it was spent/wasted in front of facebook/blogger/googlereader/twitter/email..... Like right now.. I am supposed to be working on Zoe's Halloween costume. I can't do that in front of the computer.

  18. I'm back to say... time management is definitely a recurring theme around this household. Not my capabilities. The adolescent version... ACK.

  19. I'm like the procrastination queen over here. And I hate it. I loathe this characteristic of mine, I fight it, I yell at it, I get mad at myself on a daily basis. There is SO MUCH TO DO that I can't even figure out what I'm supposed to be doing at any given moment.

    But right now I must wake a child for school. I'll have to dissect my procrastination skills later. :)

  20. Time management is really essential...

    it can help you find the time for accomplishing the items you need to do.
    Can help you save more time in the day. You cannot save time or keep it for safe keeping so you have to use it wisely.

    good time management means increasing productivity

  21. Leslie, Thanks for your note and your mention on your blog. I saw it and I commented too. I'm sure your recovery will get big enough to handle this too, like mine might get big enough to handle my shopping problem... :)

  22. Miz, you brought a great thing to mind: that I can actually meet a deadline set by someone else, like someone real (not my best friend giving me a fake deadline, for example!) But when it's just me and the stuff, so to speak, that's where I struggle. I like the idea that this is my job and I have to treat it like a job or it won't ever produce the things a job produces (hello, income?)

  23. Sherri, you are my twin! How does time tick by so quickly on the lower right hand corner of my computer monitor?

    TKW, really, FB is too big of a temptation, especially because I go on it and I just troll around looking for something to poke my head into. Normally there's not that much going on anyway!

    Karen, it's amazing, I only find the Internet absolutely fascinating when I sit down to write!

  24. Chris, I think you're right about the fear and I also think that somewhere in my gut I knew that the traditional avenues just aren't what's going to happen with my book. That's why all those doors closed. I have to see the message when it's right in front of me, right? I feel much calmer now and have turned off the TV and am working. Yea!

  25. Elizabeth, I'm sure I could teach everyone a few new tactics! I love how I even can procrastinate things I LOVE doing - like art! I have several mosaic projects sitting in my art room waiting for me and I can't get to them either. You'd think if I was dancing around the house doing nothing I could at least work on those? Ho hum.

  26. Kristen, I can imagine you being efficient and I also know that when kids are small you have to have some of the characteristics of a General Patton to survive! I know I did.

    Robin, you cracked me up with your comment! I have worked on my book so many times that I have a bazillion versions of it in my Documents folder. I named them in certain ways so they wouldn't be duplicative but now I can't remember what my system was. Smart.