Things I hear people say a lot:
- I wish I could read more!
- I need to write!
- I wish I had more time!
Friends, the struggle is real. We all wish we had more time to do the things we want and to accomplish our goals. If only there were more hours in the day.
But, I wonder if more hours in the day would actually help. I have a suspicion I'd just spend it sleeping or watching Netflix/YouTube videos.
Still, I get the struggle. I have an odd work schedule, and it makes it difficult to plan anything or to map time out. I only get my schedule a week at a time, and more often than not my shift switches throughout the week. One day I'll work in the morning, the next in the evening, and the next randomly in the middle of the day. Sometimes I'll have three days off in a row, and others I'll work 8 days in a row.
Yet - I still read 124 books last year. I was consistent with my YouTube channel. I did a complete overhaul on my novel which started at over 600 pages and I cut it down to 300.
I'm not perfect at time management and doing all I want. But, I'm getting the hang of it. Here's how.
Yeah, it's some tough love. But trust me when I say - most of this is me preaching to myself. This blog post is actually me procrastinating on editing my novel. Sometimes, I need to kick myself in the rear to get going.
Sometimes, you have to figure out what's the most important and let other things slide. It's hard because if you're like me, you want to do all of the things.
But guess, what? That's just not realistic.
Last year, I was focusing a lot of time on my fiction writing. Which meant, I let my blog go by the wayside. It was sad, and part of me wishes that I hadn't let it happen. Yet, I'm glad I did it because my novel got the focus it deserved and needed.
This year, I decided to actually read fewer books because I saw I wasn't spending as much time out, experiencing life, and seeing my friends as I wanted to. I'm not sure how well it's working thus far, but it's a goal of mine because the people in my life need to be a priority.
Then, with books, I've become more cut-throat as to which books I decide to read and finish. If I'm not enjoying a book, I don't have a problem putting it down and returning it to the library, giving it to someone who'll enjoy it more, or sell it to a used bookstore. Life is too short to read books you don't like! The same can go for TV shows, movies, etc. Been binge watching a show because everyone says you should but you aren't actually liking it? Then stop watching. It seems logical, but when you think about it, it's amazing how much time we waste reading/watching things we don't actually enjoy.
Make A Routine
With my work schedule, it's almost impossible to have a regular routine.
I plan out each week. Once I get my work schedule, I write it all down in my planner and look at the times I have available. Then, I schedule in the times I have to write/blog/film/edit/etc. I treat them like appointments or meetings that I have to stick to.
At the start of each month, I write out my goals in my planner of what I want to get done and make sure I check them periodically to see how I'm doing.
The big thing I've had to learn is that even when I work later in the afternoon, I still need to wake up earlier. I'm not saying be up at 5 am every day. But sleeping in until noon to get to work at 3 pm? Nope. That's just not for me.
The days I work in the late afternoon/evening, I make sure I get to bed as soon as I get home, and then I get up in the morning. Once I'm up, I get my coffee, and I get to work. Sometimes, that work is catching up on YouTube videos so I can get myself woken up and focused. But once I am, it's crunch time.
Then, I schedule which projects I'm going to work on each day. I have three writing projects I'm working on outside of my blog, and I've learned I can't work on them all in the same day. So, I'll make one day focused on revising a novel. The next day writing my new one. The next day working on my short story.
Know How You Work Best
Some people are night owls and can stay up late into the night to get things done. Other people can get up before the sun is up, finish their to-do list, take a nap, then go to work at night or in the afternoon.
That's not me.
I've learned the days where I work early in the morning and get home mid to late afternoon, I'm pretty much wiped. I tried to set up my schedule where I would get writing done after those shifts, but it just doesn't work for me. Instead, I make that time after work my days to catch up on reading, watching YouTube videos (as a YouTuber, this is super important), or simply relaxing.
Relaxing is important too! If you can't recharge, you can't accomplish anything later. Don't burn out!
Utilize Empty Spaces of Time
At my previous job, I had a really long commute. At first, I listened to music, and it was fine. But, I also realized that was a lot of wasted reading time. So, I got into audio books. Audio books are amazing! I could get through them so quickly with my commute.
I also decided to use that time to listen to podcasts. At least when it comes to learning about writing and publishing, I have replaced reading blogs with listening to writing podcasts. Even though my commute is much shorter now, it's still a valuable time where I could be learning.
This is simply a way I found to use that time. And there are days I need to turn my brain off and I jam out to all of the Broadway Original Cast Albums on my phone. But, it shows that you might have random chunks of time in your day which could be utilized more efficiently.
Recognize That It's Hard
Yeah, it's hard. I love writing and making videos. But guess what? Sometimes it's work. It's work I like. But it's still work. There are days I can't focus, or I don't want to write, or filming a video is a chore, or editing my videos make me want to throw my computer across the room.
That doesn't mean I just say "well... I guess I won't get that done today." Sometimes, have to push through. Most of the time, it's worth it.
Yes, there are days when maybe you truly need a break. Or there were a couple of months I barely wrote a word. (Remember what I said before - relaxing is still important!) But when you notice every day you're neglecting your goals... something isn't right. Re-evaluate and get to the bottom of what's going on. Maybe it's time to switch what you want to accomplish. And that's okay! (Back to the whole priorities thing I said at the start.) Don't simply stop though because it's hard.
I also sometimes listen to the Hamilton album and think about how A.Ham would be disappointed in me if I didn't write all of the words.
What are some of the philosophies you have for getting things done?