Tuesday, July 17, 2012 | By: Lynn

Time Drought

Parts of Central Illinois have been officially declared an area of natural disaster as we are in a state of severe draught. Rainfall is scarce. Crops are stressed. Garden plants are wilting. The meteorologist says atmospheric conditions exist that will continue to sustain the drought conditions.

My husband has taken matters of water into his own hands. We don’t have acres of crops to maintain, we have tomato and bean plants and flowers. Rather than run water to the vegetable garden or to the flower garden, Mike began collecting water that comes out of the central air conditioner while its in use. Its usual route would be to empty from a hose in to the sump pump pit in the basement. Mike has rerouted the hose and is taking advantage of the clean water as a source for watering plants. It means he has to carry out pails of water from the basement to the gardens but he’s up for the task because, hey, it’s clean, free water and the plants need it. It’s worth the effort, because we have flowers, not simply wilted plants, and tomatoes are maturing on the vines and beans already have been picked.

I easily can be in my own personal draught, not of a lack of water but of time. I feel the load of so many things to do weighing down on my shoulders so heavily that I can barely move from one task to another. All the various things need to get done and I’m glad I have things to do, like earn a living and spend time with family. Even cleaning the house and cooking a meal is proof that I am blessed. But, having a sense of peace, in general, and the time to write are important to me, too. There is only so much time in a day, a week, a month, a year, so how to manage is the big question.

Where is the Time?
People are quick to suggest sticking to a schedule and making priorities would remedy my time-drought. These are good suggestions, but I feel like laughing, sometimes, at these ideas. There simply isn’t enough time and when everything feels demanding, it’s hard to prioritize—something else to do.

So here’s a thought. Just as my husband has adapted to the weather conditions and is utilizing resources that are available but require a little extra effort, I think we writers can be open to doing things differently. If conditions exist in our lives to sustain a drought of writing time, then it calls for looking for time in places where we can reclaim it, even if it takes effort and awareness.

An article in Entrepreneur, 10 Time Management Tips that Work, suggests there are two kinds of time: clock time and real time. Clock time is counted in seconds, minutes, hours, months, years. It never changes. But real time is different.

"The good news is that real time is mental. It exists between your ears. You create it. Anything you create, you can manage. It's time to remove any self-sabotage or self-limitation you have around "not having enough time."

The point is, time is not going to change, but how you use it can—it’s up to you. You know that. You just have to grab the buckets and get started doing things that sustain your life, including your writing life.

There is Time for You
Life Coach Mary Guarino, Ph.D, suggests Spark People that we shift our focus to put what makes us happy at the top of the to-do list because then we’ll have more energy for the whole of our life.

“Set aside a certain amount of time each day just to do what you want to do. How about 1 hour each day? If that’s not “possible,” start with smaller increments of time, say 15 minutes, and work your way up. …And, most importantly, set aside time each week to do something special. Make sure that, no matter how busy you are, you take time to play. Spending time with friends, outdoors, at the movies, whatever makes you happy, is essential in helping you be the most focused and effective you can be with your time.”

Guarino lists things to follow, ways of filling our buckets with time and energy to devote to our writing, such as, learn to say no, delegate, try to eliminate time and energy drainers. I imagine if you record how you spend time in a day or week, as suggested in the same Entrepreneur magazine article, you’ll find free time, but you spent it in ways that maybe don’t support your writing life. Maybe those of us who find it challenging to find time to write can address that and make a choice to do differently, just once, then twice, then again until we've made a different pattern, one that is helpful to our writing goals.

I have not mastered this time-management thing; I’m feeling the drought of time. But I want to do things differently. I want to fill my buckets and enjoy the results, even though conditions exist that would pull away my time.

Image from Dreamstime


Rebecca C. Wright said...

I agree with the drought of time. In my case I have been using my break time at work (2 fifteen minutes breaks) and lunch to devote to writing activities. This may be reading a book on writing or actually doing outlining or writing scenes. This small amount of time, half an hour to an hour, has made progress. I still feel the drought but like your husbands hose from the ac unit,I am using what I had previously not thought I had...extra time.

Thanks for sharing Lynn:)


Anonymous said...

An interesting way to look at time.

Frankly I feel that I WASTE a lot of time, and I am looking at ways to get that wasted time back. As I go back to 6 day work weeks, and dealing with a house that looks like a rummage sale.


Lynn said...

Rebecca, you're tapping time in a good way. It's hard for me to think a little bit here and a little bit there will be of any use, but it is, as you've proven. Way to go!

Lynn said...

I understand! It's very easy for me to get distracted by other stuff.