My friends, today I want to write about managing time. Time management, like money management, meal plans or cleaning schedules, appear dull at first inspection (unless you are a Virgo type), but stay with me, dear reader, stay with me.
Here’s the thing: I don’t do schedules. I don’t have budget spreadsheets, I don’t sit down on Sunday nights and plan the week’s meals, I don’t have a cleaning schedule and I don’t use a diary. My life would likely be better if I did do all of these things, but I was sent to this Earth with an empty space in my chart where Virgo lies, and no desire to fill it.
Something strange came over me last week though. Maybe it was my ruling planet Venus moving into Virgo, or maybe it is because time has suddenly become a rather urgent commodity. Whatever it was, I was possessed with an overwhelming desire to plan my week. On a piece of paper.
Why? The rot started at the beginning of the year when some friends and I bought Leonie Dawson’s Create Your Shining Year Workbook. Every month, we sit down and set goals, and halfway through the month we check in on each other. Last week was my halfway check point, and I realised that I hadn’t been doing much personal writing. I felt sad about that, and I wondered how I could find more time.
In David J Roger’s most recent post, 13 High Achievement Skills for Writers and Artists, he writes:
Think about your three main writing/art goals at this time. Your crucial goals should always be held clearly in mind so that if I asked you could quickly say…
“No doubt about it, my major overriding goal now is…
“My second most important goal is…
“Also very important is…
When I read that, I knew straight away that my major overriding goal right now is University. My second most important goal is writing my book and also very important to me is this blog. I do not want my university studies to be like a big hungry beast and chew up all my time. I need a creative life as well, not to mention I also need to be a mother, a wife, go to work, clean the house and see my friends. I need to have a life in other words.
All of a sudden, the equation became clear:
weekly planner = achieving my goals + having a life
(otherwise known as having your cake and eating it too).
So on Sunday night I downloaded a weekly planner template and blocked it all out with coloured pencils: work, appointments, writing, blogging and university commitments. I knew that I had a busy week this week, with three appointments on three separate days as well as my son’s soccer and my monthly writer’s group on Saturday to squeeze in. It wasn’t ideal, but I knew I could make it work by making up those missing hours in other ways. I had 4 a.m. starts every day this week, and I had to do a couple of afternoon blocks as well, but I did it! I studied, wrote, blogged, played, attended to my health and body, as well as all of the other juicy things that make up my life. I had my cake and I ate it too, because I planned it.
This morning, the first and only thing I saw on my Facebook feed was this, from Elizabeth Gilbert:
But what if you could find 40 minutes a day? What if you could borrow those minutes from the time that you normally spend watching your favorite TV show, or hanging out on social media?
Back in my twenties, I once complained to a successful older woman artist that I had no time to write, and she said, “What’s your favorite TV show?” I replied, “The Sopranos!” She said, “Not anymore, it isn’t. Give yourself back that time. Turn off your TV.”
She was right. So I turned off my TV. And I STILL haven’t seen the last three seasons of The Sopranos. But since that conversation, I have written seven books.
And then my friends, there’s this, oh my goodness, there is this from Zen Pencils:
You are absolutely forbidden to leave this post without clicking on that image and feasting on these words and images. Do you hear me? Forbidden!
What time can you beg, borrow and steal from your day to add to your creative life?
Have you found yourself geeking out on weekly planners, budgets or spreadsheets this week?
“There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.” – Nikki Giovanni
- This: because I have never seen anything like it in my life before. I went into a meditative trance while I was watching it, mesmerised by her beauty, her grace and her phenomenal powers of concentration. Actually, it blew my mind.
- Me and my friend Liz (Gilbert) have been hanging out a bit this week. Or to be more honest, I have been sitting at her feet and drinking in all of her beautiful words and she is completely unaware of my presence :). Still, in my fantasy universe, we are totally best friends ;). Elizabeth Gilbert has a new podcast series out called Magic Lessons, where she talks about the process of creativity to people like you, me and Cheryl Strayed. It’s free on itunes, and only 15-20 minutes long – which is just the amount of time it takes me to drive into town. I was listening to the first episode, nodding and grinning like a loon, when Liz came out with this quote from A S Byatt (author of Possession and a venerable lady of literature):
“I think of writing simply in terms of pleasure. It’s the most important thing in my life, making things. Much as I love my husband and my children, I love them only because I am the person who makes these things. I, who I am, is the person that has the project of making a thing. And because that person does that all the time, that person is able to love all these people.”
And when I heard that, I pulled off the road and wrote it down, because this is not a woman who defines herself in relation to others, no matter how important they are. She is a woman who defines herself by what she does, by her creative life. There is something very compelling about the image this conjures up in my heart.
- About semiotics, which is the study of signs and how they work to produce meaning in what we see, hear, listen and read. A sign may be letters forming words, forming a language, or symbols of culture like a flag or universally understood icons like the disabled sign at the airport. Signs may also be symptoms such as smoke indicating fire or a runny nose indicating a cold. We are all engaged in analysing signs in our sophisticated media saturated culture – we do it intuitively. In media studies, we are being taught how to use that intuitive understanding to deepen and enrich our understanding of the various media around us. The Bear thinks it’s hilarious that I am studying this, as I am notorious for the gaps in my pop culture knowledge, making it difficult for me to interpret things that he thinks are obvious.
- Travel writing and designing a story. It is so exciting to be learning this process, not in bits and pieces picked up here and there, but in a structured subject that builds upon my knowledge week by week, with assignments and feedback. Nerve wracking as well, actually. I am thinking about the travel piece I am working on: about the personality of the narrator, which even though it is written in the first person, is still a construct of the author, event selection and arrangement, what characters to include, description and exposition and the overall theme of the piece. It feels different to be thinking about writing in this way, rather than just writing it and figuring it out later – but it feels good.
- How to construct a time wheel. When I was talking about time management to my parents, my second Dad whipped up a time wheel for me. I came home and re-did it on my computer as a pie chart – very easy. All you do is divide your week into categories, and decide how many hours out of the 168 you are given in any given week you devote to each of your activities, converting them into a percentage for the pie chart. It will show you your priorities, that’s for sure. Here’s mine:
There are definitely areas that I need to devote more time to – but as all of that adds up to exactly 100% of my time, I need to borrow either from sleep or family time to fit it in. Which is okay. I do that for socialising and spending time with the Bear. As for my writing, seeing as it is one of my core priorities, you’d think I could find more time for it than that, right? Anyway, it’s a work in progress :).
That’s it from me today my friends. It’s early Sunday morning, still dark, and I’ve been up for 2 hours working on this post. It’s not a sacrifice to me, because I can’t stand sleeping in – so boring! I’d much rather be here sharing my week with you 🙂 I hope you find something to interest you <3.