The plan, the myth, the legend

I can hardly believe another week has passed us by!  The time sure flies when you’re having fun, or so I’m told.  It also flies when you are a super busy parent.  There is always homework to check and laundry to do.  Clubs to sign up for, projects to finish, spelling words to learn, birthday parties, science experiments, the list goes on and on and I’m already exhausted.  So how do I find time for all of that and writing?  Well, I just finished taking the bar exam and have yet to find employment so I have more free time than those who are currently gainfully employed.  This is one of the reasons I chose to embark on this journey now.  I wanted to do something productive with the extra time I have.   However I didn’t always have this mythical thing known as free time.  Let me take you back a bit in time and paint you a picture.

As a single mother of twin boys, I decided to go to law school.  I still receive lovely comments about how amazed people are that I was able to do so.  To which my humble reply is always, I had a lot of help.  My parents have been very supportive in every way you could possibly think of and without them I don’t think I would have been able to accomplish what I have.  But I also had something else going for me that helped on a practical level and I believe it can help you whether you are writing the next great (insert country here) novel or just trying to make it through your day without having a nervous breakdown.  What I had was a magical, mythical thing called… a plan.

For those of you who are planners I hope you will bear with me while I preach to the choir for a little bit.  There are so many sayings and clichés about the importance of planning but this is because it is so essential to do so.  It may seem like you just don’t have time to sit down and think of what all you need to get done and make a plan for doing it but I can tell you from experience, that’s not true!  In fact, you actually waste more time without a plan than you would if you took the time to sit down and make one.

I usually go over my plan in my head the night before.  It takes me a long time to fall asleep, I’ve tried everything you could think of (and stuff even you’ve never thought of) to try to get to sleep faster.  You name it, I’ve tried it.  It didn’t work so I have resigned myself to the fact that it will take me at least an hour to fall asleep.  I have since turned this time into a productive one.  I keep a tablet and pen by my bed along with a little tape recorder (yes I still have one of those).  If I think of something I need to do, I jot it down or if I don’t want to turn the light on I record a message to myself.  Then I go over in my head what my day will look like.  For some of you, this would work best to do in the morning or before you climb into bed.  The key is to do it at a time that works best for you.  Maybe it’s while you’re in the shower or driving in the car.  It doesn’t make a difference if it’s at night or in the morning, it’s just important that you make the time to do it.

During this time I think about all I have to do and I put it into an order that maximizes my time.  For example if I have to take something to the post office, I also plan to hit the grocery store nearby.  If I had played it by ear, chances are I would have made two separate trips to do those things and wasted at least half an hour and twice the gas.  Half an hour might not seem like a lot but add it up and each week I’ve wasted hours because I didn’t think it through first.

I group what I can together, I do the hard stuff when I know I will be most engaged (for me that’s later in the day since I’m not a morning person) and I always make sure to have something to do on my down time.  What’s down time?  This is the time while you’re waiting outside of the school to pick up your kids or you’re waiting for a prescription to be filled.  People don’t realize how much down time they actually have during the day.  Much of this time is wasted on smart phones and tablets now.  Let’s be honest, how often are we checking Facebook or trying to complete another level on Candy Crush?  These are perfect opportunities for you to be getting things done… If you have a plan and have come prepared.  For me being a writer, there are a lot of books on my “to read” pile.  I need to keep up-to-date on the genre I am writing for, and to keep the wells of inspiration flowing.  I never go anywhere without a book.  During my down times I can pull that baby out and get some reading done instead of checking my twitter account for the millionth time that day.

The more busy you are, the more important it is to have a plan for your day.  You will save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you just take a few moments to get organized.  I was a full time mom, a full time law student, a precinct committeewoman, a member of my church’s board and I was able to fit it all in because I planned my day very well.  You will have time for what matters most to you.  Remember, those are the things that should get scheduled first.  If you have time left over, then you can start scheduling other things in… like maybe a little bit of writing!

If you have any tips on time management that you’ve found useful please pop them into the comment box below!  And keep an eye peeled, we are still working on the rest of my website and we will be adding topic threads.  I hope you will join me as I attempt to: Discuss all the things!

  • Definitely love to plan things, too! Part of the reason why I’m so excited for another DW visit– all the planning! Great post, keep it up!

  • I actually have learned the art you describe above early in my motherhood days.

    Since becoming a freelancer and novelist, I’ve found that by categorizing internet cruising as a reward for work getting done, and timing my work literally with a timer helps me keep the ratio of work/fun under control. In this way, I maximize productivity and still enjoy social media in a reasonable way.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!

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