Sunday, November 7, 2010

365 Lessons-Lesson 311: Manage Your Time, But Leave Some Room for Spontaneity

I'm a list maker, how about you? It doesn't mean I'm super organized. Quite the contrary. It means that I write it all down so I won't forget, which I have a tendency to do if something is not written down. The funny thing is, sometimes I lose my list, which I take as a sign that perhaps those things on it weren't so pressing anyway or that they'll get done in due time. I have to believe that anyway.

I also have a calendar on my wall in my office right next to where I write. As soon as I have anything scheduled, I try and write it down. I have to get things on the calendar or I end up just forgetting.

So, I have half a book due to my editor the first week of December. Several months ago I mapped out a plan to write 6-7 hours a day Thursday through Sunday. I thought that was a reasonable plan, but I didn't factor in that I need to eat, attend my yoga class, walk, meditate, shop, clean and all the other things that take up a day. I had this image that I'd just go to my writing room and pop out 6 or 7 hours later, eyes blurry from staring at a screen for so long.

What I've come to realize is that balance in all areas of my life is key. A few weeks ago I left a Facebook status update to my friends that said something like, "Talk to you all in March." Luckily my best friend from elementary school piped up and said, "Umm, I'm not following that rule!" Even though this was meant to be a joke, I also felt that I was also being honest in the fact that my time would be limited. March 2011 is when my entire book is due. I've always been a very focused person, but that was going a bit too far. I mean, I have to meet friends and enjoy myself from time to time too!

So, I make my list and if I get half of it done in a weekend, I'm happy. This is the balance part. I don't sit there and fret over what didn't get done. I believe I will get to it all eventually. That's been my experience anyway. If I feel like watching a movie with my husband, taking a walk on a sunny day, going to yoga class or talking to a friend, I do it. In fact, I try to take a walk everyday. Somehow walking clears my head and makes me appreciate more what I'm doing and what I have in my life. I see the beauty of nature, I get my dose of Vitamin D and I'm good to go.

I simply can't stay locked in my writing chambers all weekend on a beautiful sunny day. So I get out and walk. After I get a walk in, I'm o.k. to get down to business and tackle those things on my list. It seems to work, I've currently written 142 book pages out of 250. I think I'm right on schedule.

One thing that has helped me with time management is creating space in my schedule. I don't try to schedule too much. I leave plenty of gaps. I teach ESL at a local community college. I absolutely LOVE it and it helps me get out and socialize after I've been in my writing cave for too long. Teaching compliments writing. They are so opposite. One is very extroverted and the other is introverted. This is a nice balance for me. Also, I only teach three days a week. This gives me the rest of the time for pursuing my other passion: writing!

Leaving space for spontaneity and pursuing my passions have proven to be such great benefits in my life. By leaving lots of space empty in my schedule, I find that there is time for crossing things off my list of things to do and enjoying the unexpected "fun" things that might pop up during my weekend. This balance has made my life enjoyable.

Reprinted from my blog Lessons from the Monk I Married where I am writing 365 Lessons for 2010.