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Big ‘but’ issues: The time thing

Last Friday, I drove down to the Treehouse Coffee Shop in Audubon to give my talk Have Blog, Want Readers?’ to the South Jersey Writers. I had a great time, and since nobody walked out (or threw anything), I think the folks who came enjoyed the presentation.
One thing that always comes up at these talks is the problem of finding time to blog. Since it applies just as much to writing or anything else for that matter, I thought I’d share my opinion on the whole ‘I just don’t have the time’ challenge that would-be writers and bloggers face. As always, these are just my opinions which, like spouses and children, should be embraced or ignored at the individual’s discretion.
Is it a problem or an excuse?
The first thing to do is a quick self-diagnosis. You need to find out whether not having time is a problem to be overcome or a symptom of
How do you figure that out?
It’s simple. If you’re actively working to make time for whatever it is you’d like to do, then it’s a challenge to be overcome. However, if you’re telling yourself (and/or others) that you simply don’t have time, without doing anything to resolve the problem, it’s an excuse.
1: Get up half an hour earlier and dedicate those extra thirty minutes to your chosen task.
2: Go to bed half an hour later and do the same.
3: Delegate some of your household tasks to your spouse or kids. 

4. Multi-task.
Does the TV need your undivided attention or can you get online or work on your latest story while that show’s on? I found I was losing my ‘reading for fun’ time, so I started listening to books instead. 

5. Re-evaluate your routine.
Do you really need to go shopping as often? Could you use your lunch breaks at work for something better.   
As you read through this list, did you find yourself scoffing? Did you dismiss each one out of hand? If you did, chances are you have excusitis. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not meant as a criticism. It just means that, for now, writing/blogging or whatever you feel you’d like to be doing isn’t as high a priority in your life as you might think.
“You wouldn’t say that if you knew how busy I was.”
The thing is, I don’t need to know. No matter how many things you have on your plate or how busy your working day, I guarantee there are folks out there with the same or worse time challenges who somehow make time to write/blog etc.        
So how do you make time?
“Alright Mister Smarty-pants,” I hear you say. “How am I supposed to find some of this free time with the busy life I lead?”
That’s a fair question. Oddly enough, despite my list of suggestions above, I think the answer has little to do with your personal schedule. I think you need to start by asking yourself, “Do I really want to spend time on writing/blogging etc?”
If the answer’s ‘yes’ then you need to make a decision. Are you going to make time for what you want or not? It really doesn’t matter what anyone else says. If you decide what you want to do is important enough, you’ll find a way to make time. If it isn’t, you won’t. 
How about you?
How do you make time for your writing/blogging etc?

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( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
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Feb. 28th, 2011 04:12 pm (UTC)
I only dismiss 1 and 2 out of hand, because if I get any less sleep I'm pretty sure I'd qualify for zombie status.

As for chores - pfffff, as the saying goes, 'a house isn't a home unless you can write 'I love you' in the dust'. I apply that mentality to most chores... ;)

And I always multi-task while watching TV, but it's usually knitting or crocheting.

I do need to get back up on my blogging horse, the biggest problem is that the things most on my mind right now aren't things I want to write about.
Feb. 28th, 2011 04:41 pm (UTC)
house isn't a home unless you can write 'I love you' in the dust'

Lol, I'll have to try that one on Senior Management :)
Feb. 28th, 2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
I spend the majority of my time writing. I write when the kids are in school and sometimes after dinner/homework time.

I catch up on friends' blogs while I'm eating breakfast (like now) and then dive into my writing when I'm done (even if I didn't get to every blog).

Unfortunately, this means my blog is often neglected. Poor thing out there in cyberspace all alone with only the occasional visit from me. It's a tragedy worthy of Shakespeare . . . well, maybe not. ;-)

I suppose I could blog instead of reading other blogs, but it's easier to read than type (my food is getting cold). ;-)

Edited at 2011-02-28 04:25 pm (UTC)
Feb. 28th, 2011 04:41 pm (UTC)
You need to put those cornflakes back in the microwave :)
Feb. 28th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC)
Almost everyone is actually as much afraid of success as of failure,
and we usually find some means of treading water,
some way of saying, "Well it if weren't for [this] I could do [that]."

While concrete action is generally good,
it's important to recognize that jumping from one boxcar to the next
will not get you off of a runaway train.

It begins with the decision that you actually want to do something;
that you want to do it enough to risk not only doing it,
but doing it well; changing your life and your world.

Once you've actually made that decision,
the time to do it will present itself;
it will emerge from the woodwork, and you will stumble over it.
Feb. 28th, 2011 06:05 pm (UTC)
It begins with the decision that you actually want to do something

Exactly :)
Feb. 28th, 2011 05:55 pm (UTC)
I'm one of those strange people -- I admit that I make excuses. And they're not even good ones most of the time. Once I get into doing a post or article, I'm fine. I can even take a short break in there someplace. One thing that helps me is that I prefer writing to talking.
Feb. 28th, 2011 06:06 pm (UTC)
I'm a terrible one for making excuses. That's why I know so much about excusitis :)
Feb. 28th, 2011 06:28 pm (UTC)
Considering how much I write/blog and how often, I'd say I don't fall into the category of making excuses not to, eh?

Great advice here, Jon.
Feb. 28th, 2011 06:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Terri :)
Feb. 28th, 2011 07:00 pm (UTC)
It isn't that I don't have the time, it's more like content. I have a set subject on Monday and Friday, and working on adding three more set subjects, so I'll be blogging five days. I'm finding this also gets around the whole 'not doing' as I'm engaged in the topics I'm writing about and want to work on them.
Feb. 28th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean, one can prompt the other :)
Feb. 28th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
Another great post, Jon! I found that it was necessary to make a commitment - after all, we will commit to what's important to us. So I resolved to get up earlier and write first thing in the morning. I am not a morning person - not at all - but this has worked for me. :)
Feb. 28th, 2011 09:41 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to hear it, Mary :)
Feb. 28th, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC)
I know it's not good form to respond to a blog post with a link to your own blog, but I wrote a post about exactly this thing a while ago. I could copy it in here, but it's quite long, so I'll just cop the tut-tutting looks and post the link:

In short: most of the same things you said. Also: re-evaluate your less-productive pursuits. Turn off the TV. Give those computer games to someone else and stop doing stuff you are doing just because.
Feb. 28th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
Hi Patty,

Link away :)
Feb. 28th, 2011 11:15 pm (UTC)
Out damn TV, out!
Feb. 28th, 2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
Lol, but I love my TV :)
(no subject) - paulwoodlin - Mar. 1st, 2011 09:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 1st, 2011 10:18 am (UTC)
The writing police are not going to come to your house and arrest you.

Exactly. They only turn up if you use too many commas :)
Author Christine Hardy
Mar. 1st, 2011 02:39 am (UTC)
For me, it's a problem. I don't want to go into details, but the time I spend writing has been a sore point in my house for a long time. I have to be sure that my family members know that they are first in my life, and the book is something I get to work on when everything else is done.

For example, I was hoping to work on my book right now, but DS is still awake despite my best attempts to get him into bed, talking to me right now while I type and he eats his bedtime snack. DH is watching TV, which means my only hope for quiet is to sneak down into the cold basement with my laptop. But I have to get up at 5 for work tomorrow and I know I must go to bed as soon as DS does, or I won't be able to function.

I could have written earlier, while DS and DH were at Scouts, but there was laundry to finish (no socks for tomorrow) and a last-minute cupcake emergency.
Author Christine Hardy
Mar. 1st, 2011 03:00 am (UTC)
Oh, and I expected to write during my lunch break today, but the traffic was so bad I arrived late and had to forfeit my lunch. So you see, I really AM trying my hardest, but it just seems the universe is against me. At least for today.

I have learned my limitations. I've tried getting up at 4 to write, but then I just crash and turn into a crabby, exhausted Monster Mom.

so... here's hoping tomorrow will be more productive. G'night!
(no subject) - jongibbs - Mar. 1st, 2011 10:22 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 1st, 2011 02:46 am (UTC)
I just do it. I decided it's something I need and want to do. There are some weeks when I'm mentally not with it and I say such on my post. But I just make it a part of any other task I do in the week: go to work....check...make a yummy cake...check...talk to friends...check...read at least two books...check...write at least two blogs....check...write/revise or research for writing at least an hour a day (weekends excluded)...check.
Mar. 1st, 2011 10:24 am (UTC)
I'm pleased to see you keep baking on your list of priorities. The more yummy cakes in the world, the better, I say :)
Mar. 1st, 2011 03:15 am (UTC)
Finding time for writing is easy for me right now (not having kids help a lot, I bet), but blogging is a struggle, even though I enjoy it and think it's important. I tried to set up a regular schedule last year and it didn't stick for long. I'm trying again now, and this time, in addition to deciding on when I'll post, I also scheduled time to write the posts, using time that wasn't otherwise dedicated. I think it'll work. Now the only problem will be getting people to read it. :)
Mar. 1st, 2011 10:26 am (UTC)
I'd be happy to send you my workshop notes, if you think they'd help :)
(no subject) - dendrophilous - Mar. 2nd, 2011 04:30 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 1st, 2011 11:30 am (UTC)
A wise man (Robert Holdstock) once said that to do anything, you just have to want to badly enough. He was talking about writing a book, but I think the same applies to blogging, or anything else. For me, the trade-off is worth making the time to blog. I enjoy so much being a part of the blogging community, and get so much back from it, that I'm happy to sacrifice an hour's TV, or whatever, to go online.

Sadly, there are no kids in my household to delegate to, but I would if I could ;O)
Mar. 1st, 2011 05:29 pm (UTC)
No kids to delegate to? Perhaps the neighbors would lend you a few :)
Mar. 1st, 2011 06:50 pm (UTC)
Well, I work from home, thereby eliminating my commute and generating two hours for the writing and blogging. Works pretty well.
Mar. 1st, 2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
It certainly seems to work for you :)
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