writing

Discovering my time sucks

I took a writing webinar over the weekend which will likely provide some fodder for my next few blog posts (it was a live webinar so I can’t help with a link) and one of the topics of discussion was about how to find more time in your day to write and how to write more efficiently with the time you DO have. That’s always a writer’s lament, right? I don’t have enough TIME to write. But is that really true?

For example, how much of my day is frittered away on social media?

You mean I SHOULDN’T be wasting hours scrolling newsfeeds?

The instructors challenged us to keep a log—an ACCURATE log of what I do on a typical ‘writing day.” There are apps that will track your activity but you can also do a simple paper log, as long as you are HONEST with your results. (Not like the time I did the Neilson rating and told them I watched way more PBS than I really did.) This log works as a way to monitor your productivity (or lack thereof) and take back some of your time. I mean, what am I really looking for on those social media newsfeeds? Honestly? A distraction. Social media gives me an excuse not to do the things that I need to do that are hard, like writing/editing. Perhaps illustrating how big of a distraction it is in my day with a log of all those time sucks might be the way to cut it down/out.

Sounds easy, but I know it will be super hard. While this webinar was specifically geared for writers, I think it this time suck idea could be applied to anything you wish you had more time for, like family, reading, cooking, gardening, sports, etc.

Another helpful, and super obvious but not-practiced-as-well-by-me-as-it-should-be tip:

I can do this to some degree, but if I get an e-mail or notification I am most likely going to answer immediately (even if it’s to say I’ll get to that tomorrow.) Looking at it through a time suck lense and it’s probably not all that smart. Do I have set hours when Danielle Bannister, the author, is working?  Or am I a 24/7 shop? Something to consider as I work through this time management stuff.

Another one I knew, but still haven’t done anything about, is multitasking. Multitasking is a mega time sucker. It takes the brain something like 23 min to shift gears from one thing to another. The challenge for writers? Focus on one task at a time. Write in 15-30 min blocks, and ONLY WRITE. No phone, no wifi, no getting up from the chair/bed. Dedicate a constant block of time for that task. Same for editing. Don’t stop at minute 4 in of your 30 min editing block to check that email notification from a Pinterest board that just popped up.  (Ugh, I do that all the time!) Turn your phone/notifications OFF when you are ON. FOCUS during your small targeted blocks of intentional focus and you’ll get MORE accomplished in LESS time. Check email when you’ve blocked the time out for it. Respond to social media ONCE a day…or cut it out of your life altogether. (What??? Let’s not go crazy now!)

Intentional focus makes complete sense, but do I do that? Heck no. I hop around more times in a writing day than a Mexican jumping bean cartwheeling on hot coals.

Where I put my focus needs to change if I want to be serious about my writing. It just has to.  I want to take steps to streamline and uncomplicate the mess I’ve made of my writing days.

The first challenge for myself in taking back my time is to take a long and honest look at how I currently spend it. Only then can I clearly see what things to take out so I can take back my time.

I’m curious, what are YOUR time sucks? What things drag you down the rabbit hole?

Danielle Bannister, author and taker-back of my time

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