Thanks to technology, time management is harder than ever. In addition to the distractions of online games, the availability of digital books and an endless barrage of social media exchanges, it’s nearly impossible to find solitude. Making time to write is practically an exercise in insanity, but here are a few ways I maintain control.
- Time Management
Time management means different things to different people, but for me it means scheduling. I’m a dedicated scheduler. I make and revise my to-do list on a daily basis to keep me on task and eliminate wasted time. I cut redundancy. I eliminate wasted trips. I streamline my life to accommodate my writing because writing is more important than many, many things. When I’m on deadline, I organize outings to maximize my time and minimize hours away from the computer. I pair errands so I’m not running Willy nilly every day, and I organize the stops in a logical pattern to avoid criss-crossing town a dozen times.
I pack one or two days a week with running, and I fiercely protect the days I’m home. In other words, I make a continuous, conscious effort to manage my time.
My love of outlining is pathological. I do workshops on the subject. I could write multiple posts on this topic alone. Pantsers? You don’t want this advice. Feel free to skip to number three. People like me: outlining will save you HOURS of wasted time. Spend a day or two creating a rich well plotted outline and then write. It’s that easy. I write a chapter a day using my outline. When I finish the chapter, I move on with my life. I don’t waste time re-reading yesterday’s words to find out where I need to start. I don’t waste time wondering what I’ll write today. I don’t waste time thinking up transitions or flow. The work is done. All that’s left to do is write. Easy peasy. *dusts palms*
- Setting fake appointments
Is it pathetic? Yes. Is it super lame? Absolutely. Does it work? YES. Yes, it does.
I write a number of random appointments on my calendar each month that are meaningless. They serve the purpose of an excuse. Can I meet you for lunch again? Not that day. I’m going bungee jumping. Can I watch your kids while you have dinner with your husband – again? Nope. I’m stuffing turkeys. Those fake appointments are one more way I protect my time from people who would nag me into writing later, or never, whenever it’s more convenient for them. They didn’t listen when I had a deadline, but they never even ask if I say I already have something scheduled that day. *insert angry eyes* But, hey, it works!
It would be funny if it wasn’t true. The hard reality is I lose sleep on deadlines. Those final days before my manuscripts are due feel a lot like college revisited, but I am closer to forty than twenty-one these days. Still, I cram and stay up late drinking coffee. I lose IQ points as a result, and I’m a bit grouchy, but that’s the job. Until I make Stephen King status and can push a deadline back without making a black mark on my career, I will graciously accept a few sleepless nights and count them as blessings. Not everyone has deadlines. It wasn’t long ago that I went to sleep praying for a contract. I remember that on days when I’m sleep deprived and weeping in my Starbucks.
- I ask for help
It’s not easy, but I do. I reach out to those people who love me and they cheerfully help. Friends invite my kids over for a movie. Grandparents come by to visit while I catch a little nap. My husband takes the whole crew to a zoo or science museum for a day. It’s a wonderful reminder that I am loved. I may be running on three hours’ sleep, one shower and seven pots of coffee this week, but I’m loved and I’m not alone. Neither are you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. You’ll likely be rewarded with a shocking abundance of support.
IT manager Mia Connors is up to her tortoiseshell glasses in technical drama when a glitch in the Horseshoe Falls email system disrupts security and sends errant messages to residents of the gated community. The snafu’s timing couldn’t be worse—Renaissance Faire season is in full swing and Mia’s family’s business relies on her presence.
Mia doesn’t have time to hunt down a computer hacker. Her best friend has disappeared, and she finds another of her friends murdered—in her office. When the hunky new head of Horseshoe Falls security identifies Mia as the prime suspect, her anxiety level registers on the Richter scale.
Eager to clear her name, Mia moves into action to locate her missing buddy and find out who killed their friend. But her quick tongue gets her into trouble with more than the new head of security. When Mia begins receiving threats, the killer makes it clear that he’s closer than she’d ever imagined.
Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Julie lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three small children. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world.
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