Not long ago, we had a post discussing the biggest time wasters titled called Let’s Get Serious About Time Wasters, so this time we’ll talk about the less obvious ways we lose time. This is true for everyone, not just writers and artists.
One serious time robber is lack of routine. Having structure to our day helps improve efficiency and the fitting in of several tasks to make the most of our available time and let us spend it where it matters most. There’s nothing wrong with applying a little schedule to your days.
Another less obvious time sink is lack of organization. Again, organizing ourselves and streamlining repetitive tasks gives us back the gift of time. One obvious example (cliché but true) is selecting an outfit in the morning. How much time do we lose standing in our closet? One way to combat that time loss (which always meant I ended up skipping breakfast, which is bad to do) is to select your outfit the night before and put all the accessories with it. Voila, time for at least some toast. Applying organization to all areas of your life gives you time.
The same is true in other areas. Knowing where things go makes it easier to put them away and find them later. Knowing you will vacuum on Saturday frees up time on Friday.
(I once knew a lady who, on laundry day, did laundry and nothing else. No joke. She sat at the table until it was time to switch the load).
I’m a scatter-brained adult with ADD. Organization and routine are vital.
Another hidden time waster is over-commitment. If you are trying to establish a lifestyle that includes time to write, an over-packed calendar doesn’t help. I don’t make a secret of my advocacy for simple living because I learned lessons the hard way. If you are young, learn it now. Commit yourself to the things that matter most, whether that’s volunteering once a week or being active in your children’s school, but beware filling your schedule with things that don’t feed your soul or match your values. The same is true for your children. Studies in childhood stress indicate that a full schedule for kids is as hard on them as a full schedule is on adults.
In short, schedule “down time.” It’s good for your creativity.
The final less obvious time waster for today is the work commute. People have good reasons for living an hour or two away from their jobs, whether it’s affordability or wanting to be in a particular neighborhood. The key in that situation is to use the commute to benefit the writing. If you’re on a bus or train, jot notes in a notebook or tablet or plan and flesh out your scenes. If you drive, consider using a digital recorder and speak your material so you can type it up later (or send it out to be transcribed if you like). Another option is to move closer to work or find a job closer to where you live.
If you are serious about finding more time, keep a time log for two weeks. Write down what you are doing in every 15 minute increment of time. It will help you identify tasks that can be combined, times you are distracted, and time you might choose to spend differently.
What do you think are the hidden time wasters in your writing life?