Monday, October 14, 2013

Time Management: Working Full-Time and Writing

How do writers with full-time jobs manage to find the time to pursue a second career? I am about to go back to full-time work for the first time in months and after several months of complete freedom of time management, I have no idea how I'll adjust to the routine of 37.5 hours a week, plus commuting time, and still fit in writing.

At the moment (as usual) I have a few writing projects on the go:
  • Editing The Soldiers of Bruges
  • Planning my Nanowrimo 2013 project, The Ripple Effect
  • A non-fiction project
  • Another half-finished novel I really ought to get back to. . .
Here is what I have learned about writing when you have limited time:

1. One project at a time
This is hell for me, because my mind naturally works best when switching frequently between tasks. But it is also a lot more effective. If I only have one hour of writing time each day, I'll get more value from that hour if my mind is already in the world of the novel when I sit down. If I have to remind myself where I am in the plot and what happens next, I'll lose valuable writing time.

2. Know your limits.
I work at a computer all day, and although it is very tempting to spend my lunch breaks writing, I just can't. If I do, I get migraines. There is no point trying to get around that - my brain does what it does, and a girl can only ingest so many aspirin.

3. Simplify other things.
Where possible, I try to minimise the amount of things I have to in the evening - laundry can be put on in the morning before I leave the house rather than taking a bite out of my post-work time.

4. Use 'dead' time.
I can't write at lunchtime, but I can get my hair cut, go to the supermarket, go to the post office, go to the bank and do my Christmas shopping like a boss (and none of those activities give me migraines! Yay!). I like to read, and I am blessed that I can read on the bus.

5. The internet is my friend. Well, kind of.
As above - banking, shopping and several other awkward errands can be done online (not haircuts yet, unfortunately, although I hear Google Snip is in development as we speak). This doesn't work so well when I spend an hour every evening reading BBC news and blogs, but if I had any self-control, I wouldn't have to keep chocolate on a shelf in my house that I can't reach. . .

That's about all I've learned about time management. Does anyone have any other helpful tips? How do you find time to write if you have a full-time job with non-negotiable hours?


12 comments:

  1. I know there is a mantra somewhere of writing every day even if it's just for 5 minutes but I find that unrealistic with my reality. So I tend to be more forgiving of myself and stick to once a week, even that! And one project at a time works for me too!

    Good luck with Nano! Take care
    x

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  2. Looks like you have a good grasp of time management. The only advice I have, really, is in the first month of going back to work, don't get frustrated if you don't write. Building a routine and making a habit take time and going back to work full time is going to throw so many things out of whack. Just remember your guidelines up there and I think you'll find plenty of time to write. Good luck with the new job!

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  3. I write in the morning. Depending what time I go into work determines the amount of time I write. 1 to hours. On my two days off I schedule in 3 to 4 hours first thing in the morning. My brain is toast in the evenings.

    Good luck with your new schedule.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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  4. I juggle my schedule around academics. It depends on the day, but even with spare time off, one can't be writing constantly in the off hours.

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  5. We talk enough that you already know how I fit writing in around my other responsibilities, but you seem pretty on-the-ball here, Ellen. You do have to know your limits, while still identifying those extra chances to write. It'll take some time to settle into a new routine, but you've done it before, and I have no doubt you'll do it again.

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  7. Time management is the major issue for many writers. I would like to suggest that writers should use time recording software to manage their writing tasks. Using this software, you can record how you spend your time from morning to till evening.

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  11. Excellent post! Loved it!

    Hugs and chocolate!
    Shelly

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