“Nutty with a Dash of Meat” Jeanette Levellie here with a few ways to help you overcome those pesky time thieves that attack us all.
When someone stole our credit card information, we canceled the card. But when time thieves break into my writing schedule and steal precious time, I shrug and say, “I’ll do that project tomorrow.” Too many of these robberies lead to unfinished projects and blocked goals. Your time-stealers may vary, depending on your personality. I imagine you can relate to at least some of these productivity robbers that regularly sneak up on me:
- Checking e-mails and phone message more twice a day. Yes, I’m eager to see if that editor bought my article or offered me a book contract, but I’m not so important I can’t wait a few hours to find out. Constant checking my inbox interrupts the flow of ideas. Experts recommend once in the morning and once in the afternoon for optimum productivity.
- Unrestrained time on social networking sites. Because I’m a people person, Facebook© and Pinterest© can purloin huge chunks of my time. Before I know it, ten minutes have turned to thirty. Unless I’m using these sites to market my book or brand, I end up playing too long. Play is a good thing, but it can quickly turn into a time waster. If I’m on a writing deadline I use several methods to discipline myself. I might use Facebook as a reward after I’ve met my goals, or set the timer, then make myself go back to writing when it dings.
- Arguing, fussing, and fighting. Of course, we need to discuss why he thinks I shouldn’t quit my day job yet, and why I think I should’ve quit yesterday. But when discussions lead to strife, it may take me hours to recover my composure enough to write a decent sentence. Prayer is the best weapon here. I ask the Lord to keep me out of strife with those I love, give us understanding of each others’ (VERY DIFFERENT) ways of thinking, and I work at forgiving myself when I’ve fallen off the love wagon.
- Distractions. I walk into the kitchen for a drink of water. I see cat bowls on the floor and pause to put them in the sink. I realize an eggshell left from breakfast needs to go down the disposal. While it’s grinding I look out the window and notice the glider, which needs to be put away before cold weather comes. Too many of these impulse activities, and I’ve lost a huge chunk of productive time. Whenever realistic, I make lists of chores–writing them on my day planner–and take care of them at convenient times. This helps me stay focused on important goals.
- Taking care of clutter and possessions. The more I own, the more maintenance my stuff requires. If I de-clutter on a regular basis, I think more clearly and create more. This might mean getting rid of a few items of rarely worn clothing after I’ve gone clothes shopping, keeping papers filed, or tossing junk mail in the trash can before I bring the real mail into the house.
- Saying “yes” when I should say “no” to tasks and activities the Lord never called me to do. Again, my people pleasing style comes into play. I think I’ll be making others happy if I say “yes.” I’m really spreading myself too thin, which leads to mediocre writing, or not enough time to write. To help me overcome this time-stealer, I have a magnet on my fridge that says, “NO is not a four-letter word.”
The above is an excerpt from my book Shock the Clock: Time Management for Writers and Other Creatives.