Archive for the ‘managing time’ Category

We hear it all the time… if you want to do something (like exercise every day, or lose weight…or write) make a public commitment. Because you can’t help but hold yourself accountable.

Well, it works. It really does something to your brain. How do I know? In a post this week, I talked about snatching time to write and mentioned (rather foolishly, I thought) that I was going to do it this week.

Of course, I didn’t believe myself – knowing I had another mad week to contend with (I blame us all racing to the end of the Mayan calendar!).

But something strange happened. It kept niggling at me. ‘It’s Tuesday, girl. You haven’t written yet’ … ‘no, writing articles for your clients doesn’t count’… ‘It’s Wednesday. Just do it already’. So this morning, when I realised I was busily avoiding doing it, I gritted my teeth and said, right, only half an hour.

About 55 minutes later, I snapped the lid of my laptop shut and – yes, I admit it – felt pretty pleased with myself. I did it. I beat la résistance. So I’m an accountability convert. And apparently it takes two weeks to form a habit.

Watch this space…


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If you’re waiting for those big blocks of time to magically appear so you can write your novel, then you may die with the music (your story) inside you.

Let’s face it, it’s never the right time. While we might dream of a year in Provence to pen our masterpiece, most of us have so many competing priorities, it’s a miracle we get through each week…

Joseph Heller would never have written his famous satirical, anti-war novel Catch-22 (the one that influenced Robert Altman’s comedy M*A*S*H) if he’d waited for the right time. He was employed as an ad copywriter by day and worked on Catch 22 in the evenings – or sometimes (I’ve heard) just in short snatches in the morning.

Writers like Heller remind me that writing is more about chipping away than blitzing it. Can you find half an hour 3-4 times this week and give it a go? I’m going to try… (there goes faffbook this week…)

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Start. Do anything. Do something. Act.

If you can do one small thing today, you are one step closer to your goal.

Do you have a goal?

Perhaps today is the day you work out what your goal is. Because that is enough to take you one step ahead and how to make progress. (Well don’t just sit there. Get a piece of paper and do it now.)

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A friend took our advice and set a goal to rise a mere 10 minutes early and do some writing. (All good so far – she loves us – she thinks this is great.)

Then she proceeds to burn her hand (significantly) on an overheated cooking utensil. (Not so good now – she’s in pain – she hates us.)

Why? Well because it’s all our fault of course for making her set that goal of getting up early, so now her mean subconscious had to step in and sabotage all these useful plans that would actually get her (slowly) to her goal of writing and instead end up in agony, clutching bags of ice that she melts like a Marvel superhero due to the smouldering heat eminating from her smouldering palm.

Now as far as excuses go, this is a good one. I mean, the amount of painkiller she downed would probably stop an elephant from rising and painting art for charity. STILL, it got me thinking about excuses. About the fact that I’ve made a truckload of them in my lifetime. That if only I’d written them down I would actually have enough words for several novels – but none of them good. (Okay, third degree burns do constitute a good excuse. But that’s not one that I can truthfully use.)

At the moment I have several reasons for why I can’t possibly get on with writing this script that I’m being paid to write. Being. Paid. To. Write. Yes, you read that write, right. What the hell is wrong with me?

A lifetime of training in making excuses, and it’s gotta stop. Excuses might make amusing anecdotes for cafe conversation, but they can make the rest of your life a misery. This is what I want to be doing. Why am I not doing it? I’ll tell you why… [insert pathetic excuse]

So what’s your best excuse? Got any good ones? We could write a book you know!


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Today – we set goals, we set deadlines to achieve them, we made them realistic.

Today – we took our own advice, we got organised, we put down on paper what is possible.

Today – we stopped shuffling all the half thought out ideas, half written concepts, and we set them on a path to completion.

What are you going to do today? What are the possibilities you’re ignoring? What are the things you can set goals for? Complete? Finish?

Potential’s not enough. Ideas are not enough. You need a plan. You need to write it down.

So, what are you still doing here? Go plan!

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Today, the torrent that’s been my year-so-far has slowed down – momentarily at least – and I’ve risen, gasping for air, to the surface. How exciting! A few days to breathe, kick off a couple of other projects I thought would require the midnight oil burner, and maybe get some me-time.

Right. Tomorrow. #1. Start the …. #2. Sort the…. #3. Clean the…. #4. Get the….. #5. Go to….#6. Have lunch with…. #7. Call…..

Oh god, there I going making lists again.

Why can’t I stop doing that? What’s so addictive about lists – especially really, really long ones I can’t possibly get done in the one, tiny, weeny day I’ve had off in god knows how long.

I saw a sticker on a car the other day, in fancy schmantzy writing: Justify your existence. I wanted to shout, NO! Don’t you get it?? I want to stop justifying my existence. It’s all I ever do…

The endless to-do lists are a clue. So is my inability to stop and smell the roses (without noticing the weeds I have to pull out or that the poor things could do with some fertilizer).

…the thing is, I know I’m not alone out here. We get just a bit addicted to our busy-ness and we find it hard to sit still – in a conscious state that is. Yeah, we might vege out in front of the TV after our power wind-down (aka wine-downing), but we’re not so good at not trying to be everything to everyone, while keeping the house in order, the kids lives in order, and the business/finances in order.

When was the last time you looked at the chaos around you and shrugged. Or when your kid/significant other said ‘have you seen my…’ and you said ‘nah’ without budging an inch. Or when you, in a fully-conscious, living-in-the-moment state, just didn’t try to do everything.

I can’t remember the last time I did that. Except in my head. Because we’re programmed to nurture, reduce chaos, facilitate others, and look good doing it.

“Justify your existence”? Oh, we’ve done that already.

Rip!! Crumple!! Chuck!!

That was the to-do list for tomorrow. Hmmmm. I’ve just discovered my diaphram – and I’m breathing again.

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We were doing some positive thinking earlier in the year, in order to increase the amount of interesting work coming our way.

We utilized the secret (picturing ourselves positively busy with interesting writing jobs). We meditated on abundance (here I am busy, busy, busy). We attuned our bodies with the positive energy of the universe (actually we weren’t too successful with this one – it’s a bit of a difficult concept for naturally cynical people).

Suddenly we were inundated with work and something had to give. Hence our silence.

But now we are trying a different zen methodology, because we realize we got it wrong. We didn’t want to be snowed under with work. What we really wanted was a wealthy movie producer to say ‘hey ladies, here’s a quick mill for you to whip me up a great screenplay’. But we were too scared to ask for that.

The lesson? Be careful what you wish for. And, if you’re going to get all positive/secrety/zen about things, then you’d better be pretty specific about your requests!

We’re off to meditate on that wealthy movie producer (and on a more consistent effort here, of course!).

What is it you really want?

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I know Wednesday is traditionally our day for letting off steam, but I’m afraid I just can’t do that. You see I have discovered mac freedom and I’m a new woman. I’m getting through my to do list. Sorting stuff out. Cleaning off the desk and making things happen. I also have to admit that, yes, my ability to spend hours each day reading emails, blogs and all the associated linked information has turned into a bit of an addiction. But mac freedom has helped me with all that (yes, there is a hint of slightly crazed voice there!).

Anyway, mac freedom is a lovely little app that allows me to type in a time limit and then it won’t let me access the internet  until that time’s up. (And yes, I realize how pathetic it is that I can’t do that on my own. But at least I’m big enough to admit it.) So if, like me, you have a little, er, problem with discipline (and a mac) – go get it! Do not hesitate a moment longer.

And if anyone knows of a similar application for windows, please share.


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You know all those trivial things that drive you nuts? Well, this Wednesday rant, Louise and Sandra want someone to:

  • pick up the dog pooh in the garden (the dog eating its own pooh does not count – it’s just a whole different world of problems)
  • clean the fridge, which is starting to look like ferals-ville (oh, and fill it up with lots of healthy food and bevs – and some not so healthy ones!)
  • clean the toilets every day – in fact, clean the whole friggin’ house
  • stop asking us where stuff is that I’ve never used (even though I always know the answers)
  • do the washing, hang it out, fold it, put it away… yadda yadda yadda
  • and do anything else that will make us STOP being distracted from the things we really want to do. Like write. Or exercise. Or drink coffee… and stuff.

So there.

L & S

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You know, there’s so much information out there on how to be a writer. Much of it focusses on how to be more productive, or tells us we must write every day.

But, what if that’s not the right fit for your life?

If you’re like us, you’ve got a lot of other things to fit into life and sometimes that’s just not going to work. Things come up. Other people’s needs take priority over yours. Sometimes you’re just too damn tired.

So why not stop fighting it?

We’re taking a new approach to scheduling. Scheduling in days where housework gets to take priority. You can add in bill paying, shopping, whatever else you like to the day – but know that writing will not be the priority that day. If you get some in (like I am now) that’s a bonus. Schedule a few days when writing will be the priority. For me that’s going to be mid-week this week. And schedule a day when you can do coffee, or anything else social you get invited to to. If you know in advance that the day for socialising is Friday, you can straight away give a yes or no to invitations or reschedule to that day, because in your mind you’ve already set aside that time. Without consciously scheduling a day for socialising we all tend to just go with the flow and agree to coffee and the like when it suits everyone else. Our priorities, and our time, dwindle away.

So it’s not really about focus or productivity, it’s about avoiding ‘going with the flow’, and taking charge instead. And the only way to do that is to make a schedule that’s the right fit for you, and your life. Just because our children, friends, family, whatever, are important parts of our life, doesn’t mean we’re not committed to writing. It’s just that the usual rules of writing, are not right for us.

S & L

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