Today’s blog post was inspired by two quotes.
I’ll start with the first one, which came from the book Steal Like an Artist., by Austin Kloen. I know there are some people who would consider me boring, and I guess I probably wouldn’t argue. Maybe that’s why I’ve never really had trouble with getting work done. I’ll confess, this summer, surrounded by fun options and people who do not have to go to work or school… being productive proved a little more difficult. I often felt stressed that work wasn’t getting done, or guilty that I wasn’t hanging out with my family. I knew that situation was temporary, and now that the school year has started, I’m ready to set my vacations and afternoons at the pool to the side and be super productive (and boring) again.
But I’m still in uncharted territory. For the first time in my life, my professional hours are not dictated by a strict bell schedule. I no longer have to allow an automated time system tell me when it is time to teach, prep, eat, go to the bathroom and go home. Now, I get to decide. But for someone who has worked within strict confines for over a decade, that’s kind of a lot of pressure.
Time to focus on that second quote.
“You make time for what you want. If you’re not prioritizing the things you say you care about, consider the possibility that you don’t actually care about those things.” – Elle Luna
Let’s assume that I have 40 hours to work. How am I going to make the most of this time? How am I going to maximize my efficiency and productivity? My creativity and my resources? My days, hours and even minutes? Following the advice of writing coach Rochelle Melander, Wisconsin author of Write-a-thon, I journaled about my “best life”. If I had complete control of my schedule and days, what would that look like? Then, I took my journals and synthesized them to create this chart.
My Best Life Work Schedule
Note, I will probably do more work in the evenings once my kids go to bed, but hopefully, I will need to do less of that than I usually do… which in the past was regularly two to three hours a night. Also, if you count correctly, I have 41 “work” hours on this schedule, but let’s be honest, I have a few items overlapping (mostly during meal times), so I’m sure it will all even out. Also, there is nothing flashy about this schedule. I added “lunch with a friend” to Fridays, and I’m not sure how often that will actually happen, but otherwise, Austin would probably be proud of how boring I plan to be.
I show you this schedule not so that you can admire or marvel at my life and/or my extreme levels of anal organization, but instead to show you that it takes time and energy to set up your best life. It isn’t something that just “happens”. What Elle’s quote clearly states, is that getting what you really want out of life, requires planning.
** Alternate activity! After one super productive and focused work day, I made a list of everything I accomplished. I looked at my working conditions and hours and sequence of projects and tried to figure out why I had such a successful day. It helped me to see patterns and habits that were positive influences in my life. If you find yourself totally rocking your work day and checking things off your to-do list left and right, take a minute at the end of the day to reflect on why today turned out so great. And then try to replicate that again tomorrow. **
But what if you don’t have 40 hours to work with? What if your day job occupies that time (or more)? What if you have kids, and ailing parents, and commitments at church, and pets who need walking and, and, AND? I know that life. I’ve been there. That’s when Elle’s quote really forces you to dig deep and clarify your priorities. If your creative pursuit or your passion project is important to you, you will find the time. You have to, or it will die. (Sorry to be dramatic, but that’s the truth. At the very least it will go into hibernation… and creatures in hibernation rarely make big moves or attract a lot of attention.)
Here is what Word Nerd Writing Retreat attendee Kathy Lee had to say on the topic.
So, take some time to think about it. When can you schedule in some time for YOU and your creative endeavors? The first step is finding the time, the second, is using it. If you need an accountability partner, feel free to post your intentions in the comments below, or email me! I’d be happy to help you stay on track!
Until next time word nerds!
P.S. Big Shared World is an amazing cultural connectivity company from the Twin Cities that I am working with! Learn more about them HERE!!