Time is like sex. We all think everyone else has more of it and that it’s somehow better quality than the sex we have.
Well, just like sex, they’re not.
Ultimately, everyone has the same number of hours in the day to work with and everyone has conflicting uses for that time. Some people are fantastic time-managers and they seem to wring productive blocks of time out of nowhere. Others struggle to arrange their day so that the essential tasks get done, let alone the luxuries.
What is true is that you can’t make time. You can only find time. Finding time to write is about looking at your priorities and making sure writing is up there in the top three. If it’s not, you don’t want it enough.
In my case, I wrote my first book during six-months paid long-service leave. It was a luxury that I all too quickly got used to. I was writing for six hours a day and then sometimes in the evenings, too. I had no kids, no real responsibilities, money flowing in. It was easy to be prolific.
Then I went back to work. Arrk. Eager not to let my productivity drop to nothing, I determined that I could write for 3-4 hours in the evenings after working a full 8-hour day on those days of the week that I didn’t have other obligations. And I could – but I couldn’t do much else.
Little luxuries went astray. Like laundry. Or vacuuming. I didn’t have the time or energy to even read a book and keep up with what was happening in the genre.
So I set about finding time. Knowing I just am not a person who can function on less than 8-hours sleep, I looked at my patterns and started to pinch back here and there.
1. I got to work at 9am and left right on 5pm (saving an hour each day that I wasn’t being paid for anyway), I used that time on exchanging my 40-minute drive to and from work for a 60-minute public transport route. Longer, but it turned empty time sitting in traffic into two-hours of fabulous reading time each day. And the planet loved me for it.
2. I stopped watching television. It took no time at all for me to realise I didn’t miss the box. I hit the recorder on an hour or two each week of TV just to feel normal, and I watch it while I do my ironing. Which means I actually iron more than before, a side-bonus!
3. I stopped grocery shopping weekly and started buying in bulk once a month. There’s some weird space/time paradox that means you can spend the same time at a grocery outlet buying just one week’s worth of things as you can buying a whole month’s worth. There’s 4 hours back in the bank.
4. I made some hard decisions, too. I dropped out of the band that I performed in and stood down from my position as Secretary of my local community group. That frees up six nights a week that would otherwise be contributing nothing to my chances of writing success. Not ideal, but all about priorities.
My top three priorities–relationships, work, writing–are now the things I spend 90% of my time on. It’s not a perfect balance, my poor old relationships take a bit of a beating in the face of the things that make money, but it’s getting there. And I’m getting the work written.
I didn’t make those extra hours in the day, I just reclaimed them.