Time Management: Balancing a Life of Chaos
One question I am repeatedly asked is: How do you do it?
I practice medicine, write novels and picture books, attempt to be supermom (in my own eyes), and recently went back to school to earn my MFA. My theory is that anything is possible with time management and prioritizing. I practice medicine three days weekly and this may sound minimal, but it sucks the energy out of me and I often bring my charts home with me to be completed. My adorable daughters’ aged eleven and thirteen are the center of my life (with plenty of drama), and guilt overwhelms me if I don’t devote enough time to spoiling them. On the average week, Tuesday and Thursday are my writing days, and I sit at my desk as soon as the girls get on the bus and write until they come home mid afternoon. During the summer, I can’t lock myself in a room while the girls stare at me with puppy dog eyes.
I am entertainment central.
Luckily, a little internal OCD and list-making is a skill (and necessity) in my world. Each week on Sunday, I review my schedule and calendar of what is planned. I make lists on my phone, and Post-it notes are a staple in my house. My husband is essential and I couldn’t function without him.
I honestly would not have clean underwear.
We have a great balance of household duties. My house is not dirty, because I am fortunate to hire someone to deep clean every two weeks, but the random visitor to my house will be met by a countertop filled with clutter, shoes on the floor, paper spread everywhere, and a dining room table filled with craft supplies. Cleaning is NOT a priority – I’m a slob.
When it comes time to focus and write, I need to block out the world. I cannot have music playing and I need silence. I learned in a recent lecture that one distraction takes your brain 24 minutes to refocus. Who can afford that time? I have an app on my phone called Forest that blocks my phone from interruptions while I grow a pretty little tree. I block my Internet access and email, Facebook and Twitter on my computer (or block myself from temptation) by using Self Control. This doesn’t allow me to flip over and mess around when my brain wants to wander.
I get up early at usually 4:30-5 a.m. and I function best in the morning. (Started this blog at 5:15 am). I have mush brain in the evening – – We’re talking Malt-O-Meal noggin. I go to bed often before my children at 8:30 to 9pm and will read before bed as often as possible. I know my body and I am not one who functions on five hours of sleep. I need more exercise, and walking my dog in the mid afternoon for a writing break and early in the mornings is a goal. With a supportive family behind me, I write for a few hours and then take breaks with my kids, finish work charts while we chat over the day’s activities, and each week is a new adventure.
And some days – I fail miserably. And get nothing accomplished….
Good luck to you with your own time management plans!