Where Does the Time Go?Posted: September 30, 2010
We’ve all had it happen at one time or another. You sit down to check your emails real quick, make a couple of replies, maybe respond to something that was posted on FaceBook, or one of the other social networks, before you get busy writing. Suddenly, you look up and realize that you have been sitting in front of your computer for two hours or more! You wonder how this happened. You just sat down to do a real quick check in, but now look how much time has passed; time that could have been spent writing (or doing something else productive).
This is a common occurrence at my house. Of course, the time gets away from me when I am actually writing, too. Often I will look up from whatever I am working on to realize that the rest of my household has gone to bed long ago. I vaguely remember saying good night to them. I find that I have written my way into the early morning hours without even realizing it. When I’m writing, I am lost in my own little world. When my husband calls us to supper and I respond, “Okay, just a minute.” His response is , “Are we talking about a real minute, or a computer minute?” Computer minutes stretch out to be a lot longer than real time minutes and he knows this. He knows it because of the many, many times that I have told him just a minute, and then left him waiting for hours, often until he is so frustrated that he is yelling at me to get off the damn computer, now! I look up, perplexed, because I don’t know why he is so upset. I just told him that I was coming…..uhhh….oh my, has it really been an hour?
It’s more frustrating when the activity that I’m caught up in, is something other than writing though. When I’m writing, at least I feel as if I am accomplishing something. But, I have learned that networking is important work, too. After all, how else is anyone going to even know my writing is out there? Networking is a lot more than just posting links. As a writer, you have to use social networking as a tool of your trade, for advertising your work and getting it out there for people to see, but also for making connections that will promote your career, and maybe some will even develop into genuine friendships. “What do friendships have to do with writing?” you ask. It is those friendships that cause people to care enough to want to follow the link that you posted or check out the story that you asked them to.
The real trick is, to divvy up your time, so that you can accomplish all the tasks that you need to accomplish and still have a life. Decide how much time you need to spend on networking each day, and then stick to it! Computers have clocks in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Become a clock watcher and use it. When the time that you have allotted for networking is up, stop, and go on to the next task. Set goals for your writing, too. These can be timed goals, saying you will spend a certain number of hours writing, or they can be page or word counts that you want to meet. Whatever form they take, make sure that they are reasonable, and that they still allow time for the other things that are important in life, like family and friends. Do not set a goal for yourself of 100 pages a day, because that’s just not realistic. You won’t be able to meet it, and will just end up frustrated.
Your goals also need to be flexible, because let’s face it, things change. I have set my goals so many times, I can’t even begin to count, because my life situation had changed and the goals that I had set previously, were no longer realistic. I set new goals two weeks ago, and already events in my life have shifted, so that I need to adjust my goals accordingly once again. Don’t look at a resetting of your goals as a failure. It is just a matter of reprioritizing and knowing your limitations. When my husband was so sick, not too long ago, my priority was taking care of him, and I felt myself lucky if I got out one or two articles per day. I spent all my writing time concentrated on the articles that would actually bring in cash, because of all the time I had to miss from work. The articles and sites that I do because they grow my readership and I enjoy doing them got neglected. Fortunately, he is getting better, and I have been able to shift my priorities and get back to some of the fun stuff that makes writing my passion. Sometimes, making money has to be the priority, but if you let it overshadow everything else, you can get burnt out, even on something that you are passionate about.
So, my advice today is to set flexible goals that are realistic for your life circumstances. Allow time for writing and promotion, but be sure to set aside time for the other things that are important, and don’t let time get away from you. Know the difference between a computer minute and a real one, and keep track of the real ones to eliminate a good portion of stress from your life. No matter what, never lose sight of your writing goals and always keep your priorities straight.