This article is a follow-up to the weekly series at The Prosperous Writer. This week's topic is: busy.
When I have too much time, I get less than nothing accomplished. I click about the internet, randomly following links and wasting precious computer minutes away from my 8-yr-0ld (bored out of her mind 1/2 way through summer vacation)--minutes I could be spending updating web bio postings or my website or my freelance writing info or researching a quick article or writing at least part of an article or planning parts of a new story, writing on an unfinished manuscript...you get the idea. I flip through the guide on the TV screen, again proving that no matter how many channels you have, nothing worth watching will be playing at that moment. Checking e-mail inboxes three times an hour does not force messages to appear.
And a side-effect is that when I am not busy, I spend too much time doing nothing and am frequently (consistently) late going to any sort of appointment or scheduled event. I lack a clock inside my body. No inborn sense of time passage. Even with a clock in front of me.
The flipside of this is having TOO MUCH to do--manuscripts piling up on my to-be-read pile, rejections that need to be composed and sent, contest entries to judge (I have participated in the Lone Star Writing Contest for 3 or 4 summers), edits of more than one manuscript at a time both for my freelance work and for my publisher, crits to do of my writing partners' work, promotions for my book (we now have a release date--and only 8 months remaining until then!), and--if I get all that done--my own writing. Guess which of those takes a backseat?
I have still found that my productivity goes up, up, up when I have a very full plate. How is this possible?
When I have no time, I am forced to make time. That is, I shedule every moment from waking to falling into bed. I look at what needs to be done, when it needs to be done by, and then break each into small daily chunks. Write those down on the to-do list, and when I've reached my daily goal on one I move to the next, then the next, and so on.
Remarkably, I can move through three or more edits and readings within a six-hour period, by keeping up with a small daily amount for each. "Fifteen pages. I only need to do fifteen pages on this manuscript then I move to the next one, which has ten pages. Then I need to spend 30 minutes (timed) researching for ____, then I need to check this email box for new messages from my client; if none, then I move on to ____."
When I look at it as a number of pages to reach rather than a number of hours spent, I also trick my brain into focusing better, as well as utilizing odd minutes. Odd minutes are when I get interrupted--frequently, repeatedly, throughout the day--yet come right back to where I left off when I get the chance. Maybe that is only fifteen minutes at a stint, but I get through my page count that way.
Right this moment, I have finished my alotted page counts for today and am goofing off. I meant to turn off the computer 1/2 hour ago. I tried to update one website, got bumped from their server, tootled to another, read a blog post, remembered to update my release date here on my blog sidebar, decided to answer Christina Katz's newsletter blog challenge...and here I sit. How did that happen? What was I going to do when I clicked on here? I forgot. I'm not busy at the moment.