Thursday, August 13, 2009

Managing the Madness

Yup, it's true. The day of reckoning has come. For me that means I'm on my way back to work. *shudders* Don't get me wrong, I love my job. I only work part-time and only part of the year. I have zero reason to complain.

Except for the fact that I don't get to spend every waking minute exactly how I want. But who does? So yeah. I'm not complaining, really I'm not.

Question: How do you manage your time so that you can write?

In the summer, I implemented my One Hour Plan. (One hour each of: reading, writing, editing, and Internet surfage/forums/blogs/etc.) It worked pretty well for a while. During the school year, I do not have four hours to devote to my writing lifestyle. So how in the world am I going to keep up?

I thought really hard to last year when I was working. (In case you didn't know, the year goes from September - August, NOT January - December. Just FYI. *wink*) It was hard, but here's what I remember doing:

I read and comment on blogs in short spurts instead of all at once. This means five minutes here, ten minutes at lunch, a few after work while my girl kid watches TV. I'm sure my comments will go down, that doesn't mean I'm not reading and enjoying your blogs.

I read for others (beta stuff) on my lunch break and late at night only. Reading for pleasure: while waiting for my kids at their various sports and activies. A few minutes here, a few there, while dinner is cooking, whenever.

I restrict myself to one writing project. Be that editing or writing something new. Doesn't matter. One thing. Since I am a strict enforcer of bedtimes (including my own) during the school year, I usually have 2 hours at night where everyone under the age of 21 is in bed. This is when I work on my writing project.

All other hours are spent at work, in transit, making lunches, fixing hair, buying sodas, paying bills, marinating chicken, making salads, grocery shopping, harping on kids about messy rooms, enforcing piano playing minutes, limiting TV watchage (yeah, right. Just have to make sure you were really reading!), and / or relaxing on the couch.


I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

How do you manage the madness that is life, work, family, and writing?


Lady Glamis said...

I don't manage that well, and it stresses me out. A friend of mine told me the other day... chill out! My daughter is almost 3. She won't need my attention like she needs it right now. I'm trying to realize, at the moment, that my time should be mostly spent with my family. My published writing career is somewhere off in the distance, and I'm writing writing writing in the mean time, in all those little nooks and corners that time offers me.

Tami said...

I never manage my personal time well. =/

I usually devote it all to my kids and hunny hubby

Andrea Cremer said...

I'm in the same boat as you - semester is looming and I don't know yet how I'll balance writing, editing, family, teaching...

My tactic is similar to yours. I put limits on what I can do with an eye to all the time constraints out there. I end up focusing on teaching during the day, writing at night, and making sure I don't ignore my family while juggling everything else.

Scott said...

During the week - write after dinner.

Weekend - 2 to 3 hours per day, broken up throughout the day.

Life is life, and there's never enough time. I just try to balance things to the best of my ability. It's not easy. There are some nights when I just don't have the time to devote to my writing.

Right now, I'm in revise mode, so I set a goal of one chapter per night. It's fairly easy to accomplish that in an hour. When I'm in actual writing mode, it's sometimes hard to stop after an hour. Still, I have two cats and two dogs that need some bonding time with their favorite daddy. So, I reluctantly pull myself away from my writing. SIGH.

I just accept that there's never going to be enough time! : )


Mim said...

This is something I struggle with. I write at home for a living--online stuff, not my novel. And I've got little ones at home during the day, a child in school, and a husband who likes me to interact with him in the evening. Summers are much worse for me than the school year.

During the school year I try to get up early and write for one of my jobs for about an hour. Then I get DD off to school. This year I'll add shuttling my DS to preschool, and my other DS to speech therapy.

After lunch I work for an hour or two on my other writing jobs. I will also read some then. Most of my reading is done while I eat lunch.

I do my novel writing in the evenings after the kids are in bed. My husband is a night owl, and after ten years of marriage, so am I. We're up until around 12:00 every night.

It sounds like I have lots of time, but all of the other time is spent to taking care of the kids, house, and errands.

Jamie D. said...

We're kid-free...and honestly, I don't know how anyone who raises kids finds the time to write at all. Kudos to all of you!

As for me (work full-time yr round), I take bits of time when I can find them at work to write, read on my lunch hour, and then in the evenings, I write after all my "chores" are done (dinner, laundry, workout, errands). Normally I write from 10pm to 11/11:30pm. Then I take 1/2 an hour more to read.

I've been known to do a read-through for edits on the treadmill. I can do editing earlier in the evenings, because I can do that while I'm watching TV (commercials) for the most part. Sometimes I'll use that time to write too.

Mostly, it's just fitting it in wherever, whenever I can...

Corey Schwartz said...

In general, I don't use my time well. But when I am in the middle of a something I am really into (whether its writing or reading) I MAKE the time. Once, I was so desperate to finish Harry Potter 7 that I took my kids to the gym, put them in with the babysitter and just sat and read! (Who needs to work out anyway?)

Annie Louden said...

I am still figuring out how to manage my time. No kids for me, but I have a full-time and a part-time job all year, plus gym, cleaning, violin, spending time with husband and cats. I spend far too much time on the Internet and really must learn to set a limit.

My husband pointed out that I watch under an hour of TV per day, so I need to chill out about that.

I would like to get an hour of writing in each day.

Suzanne said...

I don't. It manages me. ;)

Sharla said...

Lately I've developed a semi-structured plan for my writing. It used to be "whenever" because I work full time and have teenagers, one of which still needs taxi-ing to what seems like all points of the earth.

I'm trying to treat my writing more as a job now, so I get up 30 minutes earlier to get ready and write for that time before work. Then when I get home from work either right away or after supper and chores are done (depending upon what's going on) I try another 30 minutes or hour or so. If I'm hot on something, I get alot done in that half hour. If I'm having to really think through it, not so much. On weekends, I get up by 7:30 and write till my house wakes up around 10:30 so that's my favorite writing time.

I rarely get to pleasure read, which I do more when my daughter starts dancing again, while I'm waiting to pick her up.

Of course I could be doing that instead of the internet, but I'm hooked on blogging (which I do during work hours here and there...eeeek!) and I have a facebook addiction. I try not to let it suck me in, but it does.

Rebecca @sometimesnonsense said...

I'm really impressed with the way you handle your time and writing. I really need to get crackin' on my time management because I could have easily written two more books since finishing my first one this year. *sigh* But the upside to my poor time management is that all this social networking and research has really paid off. I've met amazing fellow writers, learned more than I ever imagined and found resources that have helped me more than I can describe. See, there's always a silver lining. ; )

That being said I'm really worried that the day will come when I have to return to a 9-5. It freaks me out to think of how much that will change my life, mainly my writing. Let's just hope my blessings hold out and I never have to go back to living on someone else's watch because I'm loving the way it is now. But all of you who balance life/work/kids/writing - I admire you and know that if I have to go back to work that I can look to you for inspiration. Heck, I need to do that now!

Solvang Sherrie said...

My life is the opposite of yours since my kids are in school during "the year"--that's when I can write. I can't have people around interrupting so it's when they're gone or when they're asleep =)

Sara Tribble said...

Wow--I truly don't know how any of you do it.

My husband and I have no kids, but being home in Michigan with my only nephew can make me not even write! Not. One. Word.

I am very bad at managing my time. I flip flop through what I think will work, read all the blogs I can in one day, check in on the submissions for FMM, check in on forums, manage my own writing/editing of shorts/current WIP, then emails control my life! LOL! If I need to be reached--email is totally how!

Yes! You can do it! You're truly awesome Elana and such an inspiration! If anyone can balance chaos it'd have to be you!

ash-krafton said...

I'm on the other side of the school fence--the time that's rough for you is the time I can finally write with minimal interruption! YAY SCHOOL! (sry)

During the summer, I find time to write the way a gold seeker pans for treasury bits of shiny goodness. I sift every moment of downtime for the opportunity to get work done.

Getting up early used to help, but sometimes it's counter-productive--not only do the kids wake up earlier, but I get reeeeal cranky in the afternoons. It's also a problem when I work late shifts.

My best trick is using Dragon Naturally Speaking software on my laptop. It lets me dictate while I'm commuting or folding laundry. oh, the desperate lengths to which I'll go.

ElanaJ said...

Ash, I need to get something like that for my car. My commute is only 20 minutes each way, but that's a lot of time I'm "wasting" by belting out my favorite Adam Lambert tunes. :)

I know for most of you with kids, the school year is gold. I'm glad to see you're just as busy with kids or without. For me, I think we manage our time based on what we have to deal with. I've had people tell me they don't know how I sleep. I do, trust me. A lot.

Interesting thoughts, guys! Thanks for sharing!

WindyA said...

Good for you! I wish I could commit to a structure.

I'm sort of touch and go depending on what's going on. Traveling with work, I write on airplanes, late at night in hotel rooms, etc. When I'm not on the road, I try to make sure to spend a lot of time with my family, especially my kids, since I do have to travel for my job. So writing ends up happening after everything with the family is done.

Mandy said...

Time management and I are NOT friends. If anyone figures out how to perfectly balance writing with anything.... please let me know! ;)

MeganRebekah said...

I am so bad at time management. All of you were even a hint of a schedule make me jealous. Usually I'm best at writing when I should be doing something else...

Carrie Harris said...

I never tackle more than one project at a time. Those of you who can do that without spontaneously combusting have my eternal respect! :)

quixotic said...

It's so hard to find time to do anything. I am so unstructured. I do whatever, whenever I have time. Sigh.

I should probably try and schedule things.

Abby said...

Oh, I'm supposed to manage my time? Maybe that's my problem.

I write, blog, whatever when I have a few spare minutes, which have been in short supply lately. Keep thinking I should make myself a schedule. If I only had the time. ;D

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

There's something to be said for setting time limits on things. It was good to read how you manage it. I think things go smoothly when I have a plan. And somehow I always include expecting the unexpected in my plan.
~ Wendy

L.T. Elliot said...

This makes me quite curious as to what your job is. ;) Great plan. Perhaps I will have to mimic you.

ali said...

I have no idea. My summer has been a wreck. I think I do better with set schedules, so I'm actually kind of looking forward to getting back into the groove.

For me, I *think* that means, writing my blog in the morning before school starts,checking blogs in between my boys' lessons during school hours while also tossing laundry in and such in those 'in between times'. We stop schooling, typically, around 2:00, so I do housework for about an hour, then work on my own writing project between 3 and 4.

Of course, everything's subject to change, and we're fluid about the actual times of things but ... that's what seemed to work last year, so I hope it works this year too.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I teach too and had to go back to work today. I didn't get any writing done!


I mostly have to restrict myself to writing and editing at night after the kiddo is in bed. Reading blogs and writing in my own? There's only time for that at lunch.

I just need to be independently wealthy so I can read and write all day long!

christine said...

As you already know, I am struggling with this at the moment! Hopefully things will settle down and I will make it home BEFORE 8pm nightly...

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