by Allison Pang
Honestly, this is the worst topic ever for me. I have no method. I'm crappy at managing anything, let alone time.
I suspect I'd be more productive if I could just figure it out...but I can't. Or really, every time I attempt a good, honest attempt at trying to keep to a schedule, something *always* derails it. A kid gets sick. Something blows up at work. The DH calls and says he won't be home until 3 AM. There's a leak in my kitchen.
You name it.
Don't believe me? Go check out the awesome that was my week LAST week and you'll see what I mean. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say.
That being said, I *do* try to figure out ways around the chaos. I've learned to try to work wherever I have a moment. In the car. At the doctor's office. Small increments during lunch.
I've become a master at tuning things out. Kids. TV. Music. Doesn't matter. (Although, there's a big difference between tuning out your kids singing in the other room and actually *ignoring* their needs. I'm not *that* mom.) Though I have given up actually attempting to get anything done during the work week until the kids are in bed. Between homework and getting dinner made and general kid "stuff" and being a mostly single parent during the week, there just isn't any choice.
I had been driving myself nuts trying to somehow write while the kids were still up, but it turned out to be a disaster. I tended to become a fairly snappish monster which wasn't doing anyone any good. (Yes, I can tune stuff out...but it's rather difficult to tune out a 5 year old who *really* wants to come sit in my lap. Or needs help getting a drink. Or just spilled cheerios all over the floor.)
So, I let everything slide until they're in bed and then I do the writing thing. It's an uphill battle some nights though - trying to crank out the words in the space of a few hours. I'm tired. I'm cranky. I'm usually in a ton of pain. I have more amusing distractions like Tumblr or Guild Wars dangling in front of me at all hours. It's hard to work all day and then do the family thing and then somehow have any focus left to write. (These are the moments when I want to hit people who insist they're gonna write that great American novel in their free time some day. There is no such thing. If you want it? You'll find a way to make it happen. Otherwise, you're just blowing smoke up your own ass to make yourself feel better.)
Sometimes I don't always manage the words. I used to be fairly stringent about it, but these days if I'm really that tired I just have to let it slide and hope for a better day tomorrow. I try not to let that happen too much, but if I'm literally passing out in front of the keyboard then I'm not really accomplishing much. Somewhere over the last few years I seem to have misplaced my ability to pull routine all nighters. Guess I'm old or something.
If I'm lucky enough to get a full day to myself, that's when I pull out the big guns and disconnect from the internet to avoid any distractions. Except for the music. There's always music. Usually it's just background noise as opposed to inspiration - I can't really work in a completely silent environment either, but TV is less productive for me, so music it is. I actually work better with headphones on than anything else - something about shutting out everything other than my thoughts works wonders. (Can't do that at home though - gotta be alert enough to hear the kids upstairs should something happen.)
So, no secrets to time management here. I just muddle through it and wish I had more time. Same as everyone else.