Let’s talk about time wasters. Oh, no you don’t. Come back here. Have a seat. Here, have some coffee. And a cookie. Have two. Feeling better?
We all have them.
I’ll confess first. Years ago, pre-internet, my biggest time waster was television. I had to get brutal. My kids grew up without commercial television because I had to get rid of it. These days I average an hour a week. (I’m not saying everyone should be so drastic, but it was right for me).
And then came the internet, and I’m right back into having to get serious about my time wasters. Skype (which I can totally justify . . . most of the time), email, podcasts, social media. The list is long.
How about you? What are your default pastimes that steal the hours?
So what do we do about it?
I’m not a big believer in artists needing to dramatically sacrifice things for their art. I think we should live our lives so we have something to write about. Having said that, I do believe we need to be aware and eliminate problem areas that cut into our creative time.
So how do we do it?
Well, you can be brutal about some things, like TV, but as an author, the internet is required for many daily tasks. Jeff Vandermeer, in his book Booklife, tells of having his wife hide the router in the morning when she left the house. When he’d done his work for the day he would call her and find out where she hid it. Other authors use programs like Freedom that allow them to customize which parts of the internet are off limits during writing sessions. Still others have removed email and internet apps from their phones and disciplined themselves to keep the browser closed.
What would work for you? That’s something only you can answer. I’m still looking for solutions myself, even contemplating giving my internet dongle thingie to a family member when I need to avoid distraction. I also use a timer. A lot.
Here’s where to start:
- Keep a time log so you know where you spend your time.
- Study that log after you have a week’s worth of data to figure out your weak spots.
- Make a plan to combat the worst of your time wasters. Get your significant other or roommate on board.
- Get help if you need it. Get someone to hide your router, use Freedom (Mac) or similar software, use Write or Die or Ilys for writing sessions.
Know that you are not alone. I’ll be right there with you.