Friday, January 22, 2010

How I Do It

Many of you have asked me how I do everything I do. You know, the farming and virtual cooking. The blogging. The blog reading. The query lettering. The reading. The working. The family stuff. Sleeping. And, oh yeah, don't forget the writing.

Well, strap yourselves in for a math lesson. Hey, I gotta put that math minor to use somehow. I'll be sprinkling in a few things I do along the way.

7 days a week x 24 hours in a day = 168 hours/week.

Sleep: 8 hours x 7 days = 56 hours.

Contrary to popular belief, I sleep 8 hours every night. I'm nothing if not scheduled. And schedules are not broken.

Hours remaining: 112.

Work (including travel time): 6 hours x 4 days = 24 hours.

Special Note: I work a job in front of a computer. I check forums, blogs, etc. and get paid to do it. In fact, I only read blogs while at work. (I blogged about Speed Blogging here.) Thus blogging hours: <24.


And yes, I only work 4 days a week. Don't throw rotten fruit.

Hours remaining: 88.

Writing: 2 hours x 7 days = 14 hours.

I do 95% of my writing between 9 - 11 PM. That's a lot of time if you think about it. Even without my endless three-day weekends, and full summers without employment, I spend a lot of time writing. (And when I say "writing" I mean in all it's forms, i.e. revising.)

My youngest kidlet is 5. She's been potty trained for years. Goes to bed at 8:30 no. matter. what.

My oldest kidlet is 11. He can do almost everything adults can do. Goes to bed at 9:00 no. matter. what. (Take that, super nanny!)

Hours remaining: 74.

Blogging: Posts read at work (see above). I write all my blog posts on the weekend. Sure, I double check the night before, but it's a five-minute thing.

So 5 minutes x 5 days a week = 25 minutes.
Post writing on the weekend: 2 hours. Since I do the once-a-week method for blog writing, I only have to think about blogging once, instead of five separate times. This works for me.


Hours remaining: 71 hours, 35 minutes.

Other kewl facts: I can type 89 words a minute. That's 91.5% faster than everyone else on Facebook, just so you know. *wink*

Twitter/Facebook/Forums: maybe 1-2 hours x 6 days = 6 - 12 hours.

I only tweet at night (or while at work). Here, there, whenever. I try to update Facebook once a day. My FB is organized into "family" "publishing people" and "everyone else". I go through each list, liking and commenting. Time? About 20 minutes. Since FB is blocked by the firewall at work, I do this upon arriving home.

Hours remaining: 60+. 


So there you have it. Some of the things I do in order to get it all done. And even then, I always feel helplessly behind.

What do you do? Schedule your blog reading time? Write while your kids are asleep? Duck into a writing forum during lunch? How do you fit it all in? Whatever "it" may be. Got any tips for me?

82 comments:

Scott said...

Blog Reading - at work. Some people take smoke breaks, I take blog breaks!

Writing - normally in the evening after my partner departs for work, and on the weekends.

I just do the best I can, which is all any of us can do. : )

Jon Paul said...

I find I can only get my fiction writing done if I get up for a few hours each morning before I go to work. It's turned out to be the most productive part of my day, and there's nothing like that feeling of satisfaction knowing--no matter what else happens--I got done what I needed.

Thanks for this post BTW. There's a couple pointers here I might incorporate to maximize my productivity too.

KLM said...

I guess the bottom line is exactly what you've outlined: FOCUS. Don't allow yourself to get distracted. Especially don't allow yourself to get distracted by self-doubt in whatever form it takes. That's it in a nutshell. Guard your writing time -- whenever you write, early or late -- like a rabid badger protecting its egg. (Or whatever it is badgers would want to protect.) Good post, Elana!

Kara said...

This is so clever. But let's face it, it's all lies- you're really superwoman and create an alternate universe with extra hours :)

Lisa and Laura said...

LOVE the breakdown. I'm too scared to do mine because I'd have to admit how much time I spend screwing around on the internet.

Jennie Englund said...

You win the Queen Of Getting It Done award, for sure!

Holy Productivity, Batman..There's a new superhero in town!

DL Hammons said...

I too work in from of a computer all day, but for 9.5 hours a day, five days a week. I read blogs and on really slow days even do a bit of writing.

I too write my blog post in bunches, but not always on the weekend. I actually work on my book at night between 5:00 and 7:00, and usually a good chunk of the weekend is writing.

Have a great weekend!

Bethany Mattingly said...

This is so much easier than my hectic method, if you could even call it a method. :) Have a great weekend!

Kristi said...

I'm still stuck on your 8 hours of sleep/night. I'm so jealous! Maybe when my kids are older...

I also write for about 2 hours after the kiddos are in bed. I haven't broken down the other parts but I may try that to see where the time goes. Happy Friday!

Linda Kage said...

Awesomeness! I'm going to have to try that little technique and see how much time I spend on everything. And if you're into Cafe World and Fish World on FB, I'll definitley look you up.

Heather Kelly said...

Elena--Thanks for the breakdown. I love glimpses inside the lives of other writers. I have recently started writing in the mornings, before my family gets up. I'm not a morning person, but I've been too fried at night to keep to my nightly writing schedule. We'll see how it works.

Oh, and google has been messing with me, and I think I just friended you on the followers square(?). I'm sorry if that was something weird--I just wanted to see what would happen, so I clicked on the friend thing, and nothing happened. So I have no idea what I did.

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

You made me proud with that math! I run from math of any kind. All I know is that I don't know what it means to crash on the couch or "veg in front of a show"...foreign words.

Keep at it,
~ Wendy

Kayeleen said...

Let's see. Two toddlers, alternate sleep schedules, only one nap a day, stay at home mom. My schedule is pretty much do what I can, when I can. And I have a tendency to pile on more than I should. Like playing accountant by night during tax season. And helping with a show choir's choreography. And being my husband's assistant in his work-from-home business. I try to make sure that there is at least 1/2 hour a day for writing things, currently revisions.

Natalie said...

I am SO IMPRESSED. I sometimes try to schedule my time, but it never works out. I do write while my youngest naps, but all of my other time is just a mish mosh of read a blog here, clean pee off the floor, do a load of laundry, etc.

I love the idea of blogging only on weekends. That would make coming up with posts a lot less stressful.

Carolyn V. said...

I'm impressed too!!! *whew* See? You are super amazing. =) That's why we like you so much.

I usually stress to get everthing done. I think I need to rework my plan. =)

catwoods said...

Thanks for breaking it down for us. It makes it so much more applicable.

I blog in the morning as soon as my kids get off to school. This also includes checking and commenting on my faves. I write in the afternoon on my days off of my real job, which has nothing to do with writing and can vary greatly from day to day. That's my down fall: an unscheduled work schedule.

Falen said...

I, too, read all my blogs at work... yes i'm naughty like that...

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

You've inspired me to be more organized. Look at all you get done and still have time left over. Wow! I never seem to have enough time. Thanks, this is very helpful. Must go and organize now!

Sliding on the Edge said...

It seems like you've got the system down. The only difference for me is that I write from 4-7 in the mornings. No phone. Nobody silly enough to be up and talking. I get a lot done in those early hours.

Loved how you broke down your time.

Southpaw said...

Great system. I kid you not but I was writing something about the need to get organized for Monday's post. Freaky!

I’m going over to read the speed blog reading post right now! I need it.

Christina Lee said...

WOWEE I bow down to you.... I am attempting not to tire out at 9 every night b/c essentially I am a morning person (6-8 am, my best work). I could get more done after he goes to bed and darnit you've inspired me I.will.do.it!!!!

WindyA said...

The majority of my writing stuff is done between 10pm-2am weekdays, and sporadically on weekends accounting about 8 hours total on the weekends. Oh, and when I'm on business trips, I write on the plane and have the hotel time too!

The rest of my time is generally day job and family time.

And I've come to the acceptance that if something doesn't get done, well, it doesn't get done. Zen(n) baby, Zen!

Mariah Irvin said...

I'm impressed! I usually get 6 hours of sleep, spend most of my days in classes or doing homework, and write whenever there's time. Sometimes that happens to be at one in the morning.

T. Anne said...

LOL. For some reason when I read 'travel time' I misread it as 'time travel'. Now THAT would explain a lot.
I fit it all in in the morning and at night. Wish I I could liberally abuse my day with writing. ;) One day, right?

Angie said...

You're amazing. I'm trying to figure out a better way to manage my online time.

V. S said...

You're so organized!!! keep it up and you might just be able to rule the world one day.

Corra McFeydon said...

What a timely and helpful post!!

I pretty wander the Internet without a plan, so I really can't offer much advice at this point. I'm new to blogging/social networking and still in the honeymoon stage. :)

I've got blogs divided in my Google Reader by days. (Elizabeth Spann Craig's suggestion.) And I just opened a writing room on my blog to track my daily writing progress - but that's more to make me I write than it is to be time efficient.

I learned a lot from this post. I especially like the pre-writing idea on weekends! Thanks for sharing!

~ Corra

from the desk of a writer

Karen said...

Just want to say that I'm in awe of you right now. Awe.

Corey Schwartz said...

This puts me to shame. I don't have a 24 hour a week job and I still don't do half of what you do!

Brandon said...

You don't need advice, Elana! You got it all sorted out.

Me? I at least read blogs at work. Thank goodness for privacy screens. :) Occasionally, I can squeeze in time at work to post on my own blog. As for writing, I'm more fresh during the day, so sometimes I will steal some time between my morning workout and leaving for work, but most of my writing happens on the weekends, when I have larger blocks of daylight to devote to my manuscript.

Oh, reading. I try to read a bit every night as well. My goal is at least one book per week, so again, the weekend is an opportunity to play catch up.

Casey McCormick said...

Whatever glue you're using to stick to your schedule, I want some.

NowPlsThx.

Jen said...

Tips? You want tips? I think you have it all figured out... though I would say that I don't have the time management skills for all of that. I'm not disorganized, just not THAT organized, lol.

I blog in the mornings - when I have the best ideas - and also in the evening, normally right before bed... get all the excess ideas out (which I never do)!

Solvang Sherrie said...

I want to get paid to check blogs! I think I just need to schedule myself better. And focus.

Kimberly Franklin said...

HAhahahah(giddy, nervous laughing). I don't know what you just said, but I'm impressed. Really, I am.

Not only for doing all of that, but for thinking up that post. WOW. I think you need a cookie break! Any extra time to schedule that in? : )

Happy Friday!

Heather Kelly said...

Elana--I came back to apologize for spelling your name incorrectly on my previous comment. *sigh* Today, I should not be blogging. Something is wrong with my brain. I've been mispelling and dangling participles all over the writing blogosphere. *hanging head* Sorry! Mama said there'd be days like these.

Cassandra Frear said...

I've done these types of lists with time before, especially when I was homeschooling. But I found that the more I work with people, the less predictable life becomes. I like structure, so this was bewildering and frustrating.

Time Management for Unmanageable People is a book that helped me a lot.

Now, I view time management as a spectrum. On one end are the tasks and days that can be scheduled deliberately and performed as expected. On the other end are tasks, days, and periods of life that are unpredictable. At any given point in my life or my day, I am functioning somewhere on that spectrum. I need to adjust my expectations accordingly.

It's not magic. But it really helps me to realize what kind of situation I'm in. Time is not always linear. We just usually view it that way.

Cheree said...

I work 2 jobs (40+ hours a week with 1.5-2hours travel time each way) and the shifts don't stay the same.

I try to get up extra early to read blogs and get all my forum browsing out of the way, then somehow I find little time in between to do the writing/critiquing/blog posting, around family commitments.

Eric said...

Okay, first of all you're way too organized to be human. You must be a Cylon.

Second, I would never throw rotten fruit. Water balloons with icy cold, red-colored fluid are way more effective and shocking.

Third, if you are human, please tell us what drugs you are taking that slows down the rest of the universe so you can manage to get all of this done.

Elana Johnson said...

I used to be able to wake up early and do things. Um, not so much anymore. My sleep schedule is 11 PM - 7 AM. And I LOVE laying in bed. There's nothing like it. I could wake up at 7 and lay there until 9 if possible. (Sadly, it's not.)

And no, seriously. I'm human! And not on drugs! I don't even drink coffee. No lie.

Jackee said...

You're schedule is amazing. I'll have some of that!

My three kids are all teeny so I fit things in where I can... work...writing...blogging...exercising...spiritual "me" time. I try not to worry too much. Yet.

Jamie D. said...

Our schedules are eerily similar - though I only sleep around 6 hrs per night & work 40 hrs per week. You can see from my time stamp that I'm commenting from work, and I schedule my posts ahead too (some topics I do a month at a time, others a day or two). My writing time is from 10:30pm - midnight 6 nights per week (hey, I gotta have my manicure night). My twitter & FB, are about the same as yours too. :-)

So...high five! I have no tips for you, because mine are the same. LOL

Amy Tate said...

You made my head hurt after the first equation. Whew!

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

whew, I'm tired reading that. That 8:30 bedtime for the kiddo, well I'm green with envy. I have a two year old and he fights sleep like crazy. I'm certain super nanny would have a field day with us because clearly we've done something wrong, lol. He doesn't get to sleep until past ten most nights. And by then, I'm exhausted. Luckily, I'm a SAHM at the moment, so no day job. That gives me the time I need to write and blog.

Kelly said...

Wow, very analytical, organized breakdown!
You have got it down!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Ha ha ha ha ha! Very nicely done, Elana! That was far too mathematical for a word brain like mine, though. Do you have any Tylenol? :-)

Jemi Fraser said...

Nice! I use your speed blogging tips and they're awesome. They've saved me a ton of time. I've never actually considered writing blogs in advance. Might have to try that :)

Judith Mercado said...

I'm in awe.

L.T. Elliot said...

You don't need tips from me, Sith Lord. You've got this puppy DOWN!

Lori W. said...

Elana,
This is really cool because it's not just a slice of your day, but something I can learn from. You've got some good organizational tips going on here. Thanks. I write after my kids' "no matter what" bedtimes, too.

Jenn Wilks said...

I'm not a scheduled, no. matter. what. kind of person. But I totally admire those who are. I'm going to work harder to incorporate some of your tips.

Oh, and can I just say -- you've earned the title "Productivity Woman" - I'll let you know when the cape and mask come in.

WV - meraning. It's definitely a verb, but I'm not sure how you *do* it exactly . . .

Elle Strauss said...

All I can say is Wow. And I really got to get a schedule some how. Maybe tomorrow....

Katie Ganshert said...

Wait...I'm confused...I thought you were a teacher. Why do I think that?

Christine Fonseca said...

Nice breakdown - I would scare EVERYONE if I broke MY day down...so will spare the world. Suffice it to say, add to your routine and extra 16 hours of work on a slow week, 30 hours a week of stuff related to the kidlets, and much much more time on some other things!!!

Jessica said...

Great breakdown! Looking at life like this is pretty smart. I thought you were a teacher?
Cool info. I kind of wondered how you had time too. Now I know. *grin*

Sharon Mayhew said...

wow! My husband got me the book Managing Your Mind for Christmas. One of the first activities they have you do is make a chart of graph of your time. Your's was EXCEPTIONAL! Just like you, Elana. :)

Judy Harper said...

Very interesting, though what about the other "fun stuff"? House cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, church, and family? lol

Catherine Denton said...

May I have a slice of your awesomeness pie?
Winged Writer

TirzahLaughs said...

Don't think so big. If you only write 250 words a day for one year (365 days), that will equal 91,250 words.

And that amount of words is the draft of a novel.

So don't think about hours committed and pages of material.

You only need 250 words each day. If you write more than that, great. But each day, no matter how much you wrote the day before, commit to 250 words.

T.

Dominique said...

I'm very impressed with your scheduling, and with how much you sleep. In fact, I'm slightly in awe.

I tend to fit my life together my only going on Blogger twice a day, which amounts to about 2-3 hours a day anyway, but I'm sure it's less than when I used to come over all the time. The writing I do when I could be sleeping. Not sleeping, that's how I make time in my day.

Jenn Wilks said...

For those who are confused, Elana IS a teacher. She teaches computers to elementary school kids. While they're playing computer games, she blogs. :-D

Erica said...

That's great! I can't believe you have it down to that schedule! That's really great. Man I have no excuses, I have no kids, I do work 40 hours a week, but I stay up late every night... get about 5 hours of sleep during the week.

Impressive and I so want your job - how cool :o)

Little Ms J said...

Uh.. what? I can barely make it to work every morning. You're like Super Elana J or something.

Bish Denham said...

Now that puts things nicely into perspective and those 60 hours give you some good time with family and friends...I'm inspired!

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh my word.:) You made me dizzy just reading your organization. Did you leave time for bathroom breaks etc:))
I have all day right now so I can pretty much organize at will but finding setting a blogging time limit really works well for me in the am.

Suzyhayze said...

What amazing organization skills!

Natalie Aguirre said...

I have to be super disciplined because I work full time as well as take care of my family & volunteer at school. I squeeze in 30 to 45 minutes of writing in the morning between getting my husband off to work and my daughter to school & exercising. Then if I'm lucky enough to get a full lunch break, I can squeeze in another 20-25 minutes of writing. I can't blog or tweet at work so I try to spend about an hour or a little longer after I make dinner & lunches checking blogs & commenting. Then I read until I fall asleep exhausted. I try to spend more time on the weekends writing and any vacations spent at home (a lot of them are), I devote more time to writing. I may try to add a cup of coffee after work to see if I could write for a bit at night like you.

Jonathon Arntson said...

I still think you're a freak/superhero.

Kat Harris said...

Don't forget about Glee time. :-)

Elana Johnson said...

Thanks for the clarification Jenn! I do teach. Computers. I have 38 of 'em. And a laptop. Oops, make that 2 laptops. Ha ha!

Jonathan, lets go with superhero, okay? I like the sound of that.

And Kat, I would never forget Glee! That's what the 60+ hours are for!!

Lisa Nowak said...

I'm having a panic attack just reading this. But now I know your secret. 89 words per minute. I took typing in high school, so I know where the keys are, but my fingers still refuse to hit just one of them at a time. And one hand seems to be a speed freak, racing ahead of the other to mess up simple words like "teh". The result is I end up fixing half the words in any sentence. No joke.

Candace said...

simply freaking amazing!

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Oh my WOW. Seriously. I just wow. Not just that you get so much done, but that you are able to account for your time in such a concise manner, whereas I at the end of the week, am scratching my head wondering where all the time went. My idea of a schedule is knowing what day of the week it is. Bonus points if I know the actual date. And I almost never get those darn bonus points.

Shelli said...

goodness im not even going to tell you mine :)

Suzette Saxton said...

Hmmmmm... I still don't buy it. I swear you have 33 hours for every 24 I have! ;)

Can't wait for lunch on the 1st.

Nichole Giles said...

Maybe I should have you make my schedule...

And by the way, how do you get your kids to go to bed at the appointed time No.Matter.What.? I have GOT to learn that trick.

Nichole

Mary Campbell said...

I've never been good at math. Maybe that's why I feel like I don't have enough time.

Girl with One Eye said...

After 70 plus comments I feel silly posting but I must say, this is very inspiring for me. I have learned two things: One, Writing doesn't necessarily mean adding more words to manuscript it can also mean revising. Two, write all my blog posts for the week in one sitting instead of 5 different days a week. Why didn't I think of that before?

Thanks Elana. You're a gem.

Mandy said...

Holy crap, my head is SPINNING! If only I could be that on top of things! ;)

I LOVE your new layout, btw. Very cool.

kimberlyloomis said...

I think my brain just exploded... I get up early (before toddler gets up) to exercise and get on top of email/web correspondence. Nap time and bed times will find me back in front of the computer for working on manuscript as well as getting my blogs posts done for the following week. (I do a whole week, five posts, within one or two sittings including my serial) But, uh, seriously- you're Wonder Woman. You know that, right?

Corra McFeydon said...

A handmade trackback since I can't figure out how to do it the official way. :) I mentioned this article at my blog in a january in review post. Cheers! - Corra McFeydon

Corra McFeydon said...

I just blogged about my writing schedule here.

:)

Corra

from the desk of a writer

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Umm, wow! This is incredible! And I love that you participate, even though you're so busy. I always feel special when you comment on my blog. :-)

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