Tuesday, August 20, 2013

# On Writing # Post

How to Gain an Extra Hour Every Day

The 2nd in a series on organized writing

In Part 1 of this series, I talked about my totally backward system of organizing, why it works, and why you need it. I described how to get started with no more than a simple computer-based calendar program/app and a desire to streamline your time and writing process. I also promised to find you an extra hour every day by magic. Today we’re not only going to do that, we’re going to build into your system the most essential secret to its success.

Okay, by now you should have created your blank calendar. Open it up and get started RIGHT NOW while you’re reading this. Don’t tell yourself you’ll work on it later when you have some free time—you probably don’t have much or you wouldn’t be trying this system! And by doing it now, we’ll find you that free time you need for other things.

IMPORTANT: In the next few posts, I’ll be detailing how to fill out your schedule calendar step by step. Follow along in the precise order given—no cheating by jumping ahead to add obligations, job hours, Mom’s birthday, etc. Why? One, the reason so many of us can’t find the time we need is that we try to squeeze it between too many obligations. We’re about to fix that flaw. Two, the order of steps will begin shifting your mindset away from focusing on the Must Do’s, freeing yourself take a more balanced approach to your days. This will reduce stress while boosting creativity and productivity.

You may find the change in prioritizing difficult, since we’re taught that grownups put responsibilities first (and second, and third…). Fun and free time comes way down the list—if at all. Turning that perception on its head is a vital reason why this schedule truly works. So trust me on this. Do the scheduling list IN ORDER.

Now for the magic trick: how to make an extra hour appear in your day, every day.

 STEP 1: Pick one hour of the day and label it FREE.
Yep, the first step in this scheduling system is to create that elusive free time—every day. You might be asking, “Shouldn’t I fill in other tasks so I know when I can have free time? Nope. We’re shifting our mindset, emphasizing the importance of downtime. It’s a habit that can only be obtained by practice.

You don’t need to overthink this—simply pop open tomorrow’s daily view and pick an hour that appeals to you. Trust your intuition in choosing a time that will be beneficial and not inherently impossible because you’ll be at work or picking Johnny up from school.

So what time will it be? Want an hour to yourself early in the morning? Or maybe at night after the kids are in bed? Perhaps a break after writing or midday. Whichever you choose, click that hour, type in FREE, and use the repeat/recurring event feature to make it a daily occurrence forevermore. Voila! An extra hour of time just for you.

FYI, this hour is not where you’ll be fitting in writing. FREE means just that, and we put it in all caps as a reminder of just how vital downtime is to our health, stress level, and writing flow. This also builds in some automatic padding to the schedule to give you breathing room on days when something unexpected pops up.

ALSO IMPORTANT: Don’t fall into the trap of routinely filling your FREE hour with extra tasks and busywork. This time is for you to engage in things that are fun or relaxing. Engage in a hobby, do meditation or devotions, read a book, take a long bubble bath, sit in the garden with a cup of tea, talk on the phone to a good friend, or put your feet up and do absolutely nothing at all.

Start this part of the schedule immediately, even though we haven’t yet gone on to finish filling out the rest. Take that hour and let the rest happen as it can.

When you first start taking your FREE hour, you may find yourself preoccupied with thoughts of other things you should be doing. You might feel guilty that you’re not writing/cleaning/saving the world. And you may very well be tempted to squeeze in some extra word count—writing counts as fun, right? (Repeat after me: No. Well, yes, but not right now.) Banish these thoughts the minute they come along. You can relax and enjoy yourself without guilt, for soon enough you will have a completed schedule with a specific time for everything else. At the end of each day, you’ll go to bed satisfied that you accomplished what you needed to, rather than fretting over the fifty random things that didn’t get done.

In the next post I’ll help you find an extra day every week, and we’ll plug in a writing schedule carefully crafted to maximize productivity while reducing the chance of burnout. In the meantime, feel free to post your questions or comments below. Happy relaxing!

Part 1: The writing schedule you need RIGHT NOW
Part 2: How to gain an extra hour every day
Part 3: Take a day OFF and be more productive
Part 4: The Smart Time approach to cleaning and appointment management
Part 5: Find Time for Everything You've Always Wanted to Try


I'm J. Rose Allister, wife, working mom, and the author of over twenty-five books. Somewhere in between one and the next, I love hanging out here on my blog and over on Twitter. Give me a comment or follow-I love chatting with people! And if you enjoyed this post, consider sharing with friends and subscribing for updates.

1 comment:

  1. Love this idea. I for sure need to find a few free hours in my life here and there. With your system, maybe I can. Thanks for sharing!


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