I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, June 20, 2011

Time is of the Essence!

At our house we have one Wii and two teenage sons. Right now the popular game at our house is the one where you hunt and kill zombies and save the world. Unfortunately, it is a “one player” game, which means only one boy can play at a time. As you can imagine, this has the potential to cause some serious problems. So I came up with the brilliant idea of setting a timer. They set the timer for 30 minutes and Spencer plays the video game while Sam does something else. Like chores. When the timer dings, they trade places. Genius, right?

The other day, I was sitting in my recliner reading my book club book, and the boys were taking turns playing. The timer signaled it was Spencer’s turn to play, but Sam was furious. He claimed Spencer was shortchanging him because in his mind there was no way it had been a full 30 minutes. I am not new to this particular rodeo; I had been watching the clock and could verify it had indeed been the complete 30 minutes. 

Here’s the problem: when the boys (especially Sam) enter the amazing world in their video games, time ceases to pass. Thirty minutes out here in the real world feels like mere seconds in Wii World.

I know you are probably expecting ten tips on constructing a Story World that allows your reader to lose all track of time as they turn page after page of your novel.  I’m all for building that kind of story world, but today I want to talk about time and how much of it we waste. Ouch. I know, I’m sorry, but it needs to be addressed.

“I am working on my novel, but I’m so busy I just never seem to have enough time to get it finished.”

I’ve said it. (Especially to those well-meaning friends who ask me why I haven’t published my book yet.) It often seems like it’s the truth. We are all incredibly busy. Some of us are busier than others, and some of us are busy in different ways than others. We all wish we had more time. Well maybe we do...we just have to find it. 

If you Google “time management” you will get 225,000,000 results. After reading all of them, I discovered we must simply make lists, keep a calendar, prioritize, plan, set goals, implement deadlines, avoid procrastination, learn to say no, pick our battles, multitask, delegate, collaborate, and get up earlier.  Whew, is that all?

I had a truly enlightening conversation with my mentor last week. She helped me brainstorm, gave me a to-do list, and then made a simple suggestion that changed everything. She told me to keep a journal. A time journal. Just like every diet program makes you to keep track of everything you eat to avoid overeating and to see why your weight loss might have stalled, a time journal can work the same way. If I keep track of everything I do in a day, I can see what I’m doing (and not doing) and why my writing has stalled. I can celebrate my accomplishments and/or see where my schedule needs to be tweaked for me to be most productive.

If I am honest in keeping my time journal, I will have an overview of everything I did today. Did I really spend 2 hours writing email and cruising 
Facebook? Just like Sam and Wii World, I think there is no way it was 2 hours--it seemed like mere minutes. It occurs to me if I keep track of my time I can avoid wasting it. And if I can avoid wasting my time, I will have more of it to devote to finishing my novel. And killing zombies.

 (For the record, other resources I like for time management are www.timethoughts.com, www.flylady.com, and The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen. Check them out!)

One last thing: We are absolutely thrilled for our Roxanne who married her Steve on Saturday. (Read her story here.) We send them both our love and congratulations, and pray that God will bless them abundantly as they embark on this new adventure together!!

~Heidi Larson Geis


YOUR TURN:  What is your best tool for managing your time? 

9 comments:

  1. I needed this! I do waste a lot of time on the internet, and have a lot of people who are interested in my writing. I have to tell them it's not moving forward, and I hate that! They are such champions, I feel like I'm letting them down...I'll try that time journal. Thanks

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  2. Valuable and such a realistic example, Heidi. My two youngest grandchildren run into the same time warp when it comes to equal sharing. And it was a blessing to be in your home and see your world. Rooting for you and all of us to let God fill our time to the max w/ things that count most, including writing.

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  3. Great post, Heidi! I, too, am a in the beginnig stages of being a "recovering time-waster." I like (But dread) the idea of a time journal. That sounds like a good idea. I am going to do it, because I want to get back on track with writing.

    When the kids were in school, I set aside an hour 2-4 afternoons a week, but this summer has been tougher.

    Thanks for the exhortation to spend time better, Heidi. May we all become better time managers and use it for God's glory!

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  4. I found an online stopwatch: http://www.online-stopwatch.com/. I set if for 30 minutes and type (or edit) away!!
    Can't wait to check out some of your links, Heidi!

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  5. I started a Christian Fiction Book Review Blog as a marketing tool to increase my visibility when I get my book published. Then I realized that I enjoyed working on the blog so much that I was seriously neglecting my writing.

    My solution that I am going to begin implementing this Saturday and every Saturday is a weekly post called Traveling the Path Toward Publication.

    I'm hoping the accountability of having to tell everyone what I got done each week will keep me moving along.

    http://readgreatfiction.wordpress.com

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  6. Heidi!
    Great post. I hadn't thought of a time journal. Struggling to find time to write has become sort of a crusade for me. But I bet if I kept a time journal for a week, I'd shock even myself at what I would find.

    Blessings!
    Alena T.

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  7. Heidi, great post! Since I finished my wip, I'm having a hard time staying on track with writing. Until then, I had a goal...finish the book! Now I find myself spending waaaay too much time surfing the net!

    I like Beth's idea of a time clock and will probably download it. Plus, I've set a goal of 1 week to get my new website up--that can really eat up time. I do find I manage my time better when I have a deadline, whether real or self-imposed.

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  8. Since I'm juggling two careers, time management is so important. When I write my rough drafts, I used a downloaded egg timer--in the shape of an egg. :) This helps me to stay focused because I try to write as many words as I can in a set amount of time. I'm finding I drag my feet during the editing phase, so I'm forcing myself to become more focused during those writing times.

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  9. Sorry to comment a day late, Heidi. I'd say I got busy and ran out of time yesterday, but ummm...considering that's what your post is about, the excuse probably won't fly. (Truth is, I crashed yesterday and slept half the day away after a ridiculous number of traveling weekends and sleep-deprived weeknights. :)

    Anyhow, I really loved your post - practical and encouraging. It IS possible to find enough time for the important things. I'm reading Jon Acuff's book Quitter right now (highly recommend!!) and am realizing, I have time to pursue my dream. I do. It's a matter of seeking it out...I think, for me, it's going to come down to getting up early and pursuing my dream before heading out to my day job....

    Phew, rambling...:)

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