Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Time Does Not Fly, It Crunches

I had occasion to speak with another author yesterday about time management and she had an interesting way of scheduling her day. Besides writing down her activities in her calendar she actually scheduled things according to the goals she hoped to achieve for those hours, rather than the precise activity, thus circumventing the "gosh this is my writing time but I'm totally uninspired, I'll just play a few games of solitaire" moments.

She divided work time in the day between things that earned her money, time that was for her own creativity with concern for remuneration, and time that was for promotion - to make sure that the things she made in the world actually found their way into the audience's hands. Of course some of the things that I schedule into my day straddle different categories making the idea of using this kind of division rather more difficult for me to take up. For instance my participation on Pan Historia has a couple of different functions: one to maintain and keep the site vital with my presence and example; two to indulge my own creativity through my writing and participation in our collaborative role-play novels.

I didn't notice if the afore-mentioned author added recreation time to her calendar, but I did notice that she didn't necessarily tie herself down to a particular event - since she failed to turn up for something I invited her to on last Friday. That's not a recrimination. I think it's very important for people to give themselves permission to change their plans and just stay home, especially busy people. There just isn't time in the day anymore for all the things that we have to do, and sometimes you just have to take the knife to a few things to remain sane.

And that's really the crux of my thoughts this morning. How do I manage time for maximum creativity and maximum efficiency and yet remain a spontaneous and energetic person, rather than a stressed out drone that eventually collapses like an old cart horse in the traces? My author friend makes her living writing. I make my living at the workplace where I'm employed and receive wages. Anything else I do is just the cherry on the whipped cream.

I'd enjoy any comments including what you do for time management. If something particularly works for you - let me know here on the blog so we can all learn something new.
One of my online friends, a fellow denizen of Pan Historia, tweeted at me yesterday, in response to something, I forget, to work better - not harder. Easy to say - so how is it done?


Scarecrow said...

[this is kind of a combo comment on this and the novel post]

I'm not the best at time management being the guy with spare time to spare. Give me a few hours and from scratch I can make you a four tiered wedding cake with hundreds of flowers and leaves and your choice of a basket-weave or pearl dot finish to the icing, and I won't use ready-made fondant or anything. All of it from scratch. But, I managed to do all of one load of laundry this weekend and my roommate actually put the clothes into the dryer for me. That's all I accomplished.

I always wonder about people who have to set aside time and make themselves write. Once I have the idea, I write it. Admittedly I'm not the best writer, I don't go into a lot of detail, my style is sparse. [I'm not even sure that's the correct word.] I enjoy writing. I think sometimes when it comes to writing that book or whatever, that a certain mindset is holding people back or it's semantics, maybe. They have to make themselves write, try to write. It is becoming another thing they have to do like work or laundry. It's no longer something they want to do or enjoy doing. It's a task. It's that undone thing sitting in the corner mocking them, like my pile of laundry. I could just kick it into the closet and not have to look at it anymore, but sooner or later I have to do it, and the longer I wait the smellier it's going to get. Just like that unwritten novel. It could be tucked away, but it's still there, only it becomes an unpleasant thing you feel like you have to do.

Maybe I'm saying if you want to write, you'll find time to do it. Stop trying to write, don't schedule time for it. Just stop and do it. Kick the laundry in the closet. Turn off the tv. Don't read that book.

Pan Historia said...

I love your writing, scarecrow, but I would like to say that most of your comment is very applicable to my novel under the bed post and not so much to the time management issue. I do have to manage my time due to the constraints of having too much to do and too many deadlines to meet. My normal way of doing things would be to work on one project until it is done and then moving on to the next, and yet I have had to let that go due to the multiple nature of commitments with results and action needing to be demonstrated on each and every activity every day. It's all part of being my own business as well as my own supervisor.

However I take what you say to heart when it comes to writing my novel. Kick the laundry away and get my ass down to do it, but don't make it a chore, or let it sit so long it's like a stinky trash can full of spoiled vegetables.

Skyclad said...

What is a poet’s comments worth in this since remuneration is but a dream. Still, I schedule writing in priority and in time.

First, when I am most creative is when I schedule new work. This is usually in the early morning, and then again in the later evening. Never do I set more than a single hour at it. I may write more, but I do not schedule more.

Second is time to go over older works, edit, clear up, and adjust these. This is the most boring time, as I have to look with a critical eye at myself. One word there… HARSH. Though I am learning to be fair too.

The third is playtime, which is Pan Historia and other places, depending upon my mood. There I write what suits the joint ventures and me. Here is the thing though that the fine people at Pan don’t know… I think. I get ideas there and I think about them, how to carry it off, if it can be done, and then what it may look like. Those hours spent there are not at all wasted creative time, they are useful.

There is one other schedule that I keep in mind. Time is not endless. It is finite. I do not have all the time in the world. Therefore I have added a pressing issue to sort and collect my poetry into viable form so that I may publish them, or should I not be there to do so, others may. I have that goal in mind.

And then there is always the works which I have posted at the sites I visit. Wyatt, you should add “archivist” to your list of duties.

Hatshepsut / Kelly Silver said...

So I suppose this is the opportunity to put my money where my mouth is, particularly since I’m typically busy myself, and naturally suck at time management.

However, just because one isn’t naturally inclined to a skill doesn’t mean they can’t learn.

Now I pause for an important (and probably rather redundant) disclaimer, how any single person successfully works efficiently is really dependant on them. I’m not you, you’re not me, we both function in life very differently.

A few years ago, and I forget what exactly smacked me in the face - prompting the gears to turn, I realized that whatever I was doing was terribly unnecessary to my objective and I was tackling the task because in my own twisted perception prior to that moment I believed it had to be done. I felt a personal obligation when no one else minded the results and I only cared on the point of misguided pride.

I know you’ve seen the trait in me before, when I get on a line, the blinders are on, and getting to the end the way I’ve planned becomes the only way to ride the path. Or what’s worse yet, the distractions tug me away from being able to focus properly on my project.

I either work at the single damned fissure on the brick wall so freakin’ hard everything else blacks out or the rest of the bricks with all their tiny interesting cracks distract me and I end up trying to shove mortar in every little hairline but getting nowhere fast.

And of course the wall’s just one part of my homestead too! And I need my entire homestead attended to, don’t I? There’s a house, and a pool, and a yard, and that damn brick wall round the back of the property, oh yes, don’t forget the land itself as that needs some TLC sometimes too.

What I should really be considering is taking a step back then carefully assessing the major needs or desires for/of the wall, rather than looking at it too closely and forgetting the rest of my flat or stepping too far back that the pools glistening waters make me forget I was originally thinking of the wall.

What do I need or want for the wall, what does it do for me? Do I really need and/or want the wall or is it really that I feel I should have it? And if I do need/want it how can I make the wall something that only consumes how much time I wish it to? If the wall requires more time them I can reasonably spend on it, can I find a better way to deal with the wall? A new sort of wall? I mean if it’s riddled with flaws which are problematic maybe it’s best even for time management to demolish the whole thing and rebuild! Or maybe someone who will help with the wall? Hey, perhaps the wall is worth more money than time even and I should pay someone to deal with the damn thing?

Now apply the same thoughts to the rest of my domain, house, pool, yards… I’ve got a lot going on, and probably more than I should. You know that pool, I hardly use it and my neighbor likes me, she would let me use hers. And in the front yard I can do a pretty rock garden that will take hardly any maintenance while keeping my personal sense of style, and I can always expand on it later when I’ve got the time and inclination to further beautify.

Now your property is vast and expansive, demonstrating the great number of interests you have. I think you’ve got everything I’ve got and more. Yours is like a ranch with a guest house and a shed and a barn… Oh need I go on? (I left out your sables, on purpose, we’ll just refer back to the barn for your prized stallions. *Evil Grin*)

My suggestion is to pick out the important parts of your ranch that gives you the most reward, personal, professional, spiritual… Keep an eye out for new ways to keep up with the chores that will make your life easier…. Allow the things which have run course be taken back by the growing grassland…. Visit your friendly neighbors for the parties at the watering hole… Don’t be afraid to delegate to those who should be lending a hand ‘round the place… And let those who want to help you out with the barnyard animals or vegetable garden out front spend their time to both your benefits.

And don’t forget your computer, because you damn well better be keeping up on Pan through all of this. *GRIN*

Wow, what a great metaphoric tangent, what was the topic again? See, this is why I don’t keep blogs, I can never stay on track… Oooooo, shiny!

Pan Historia said...

Quite clearly, from the length of your comment, you NEED a blog, Hatshepsut.

Great thoughts and input everyone!

Hatshepsut / Kelly Silver said...

I need a blog like I need a pool which requires a ton of maintenance that I hardly ever swim in.

Water and I don't mix.

Hey, if I'm profound enough perhaps I'll take someone up on guestblogging. *Grin*