Maintaining a Busy Life

| Friday, April 20, 2012
Today's Tune: Love You Madly

Earlier this month when I asked for blog topic suggestions, Mrs. Silverstein was interested in hearing what "busy" looks like to me and how I deal with it. Sure!

Currently, I'm feeling pretty consistently busy. I work full time, I write when I can, AND I'm planning a wedding for August. Trying to fit a few out-of-town weekends in there somewhere, as well. So, suffice to say, most weeks in my life are feeling pretty full. That doesn't mean I don't have ANY downtime, it just means that when I do have downtime, I usually end up spending it completely tuned out to the world around me because OMG JUST NEED TO REST.

As I've been delving into wedding planning and knocking out my to-do items, I've definitely noticed that some of the suggestions in my bridal books are very applicable to the rest of my life, including my writing. The two things I keep finding myself going back to? Prioritize and keep lists. So. Very. Helpful. Especially when you have a tendency to turn into a stressed-out scatterbrain like I do. I can never depend on myself to just *remember* things if I have too much on my plate. I need reminders.

List and schedule-keeping are absolutely key for me. I'm a procrastinator by nature, which, oddly enough, ties into my perfectionism. If I never start it, then I can't screw it up, so it will remain perfect inside my brain! Yeah. Not so good for getting things done. This is where scheduling comes in. I have to create a plan of action and stick to it. I work from 8-5 every weekday. If I'm going to write in the evenings, I have to decide that I get X amount of veg-out time for television and internetting, Y amount of time for taking care of dinner, and then I'm going to write from *this time* to *this time*. If I'm feeling really run down on a particular day, I don't overextend myself. If I'm too tired, I say, "Okay, only 30 minutes of writing tonight." And that's what I do, unless I happen to get into the zone and feel a burst.

I also find it helpful to set a deadline for myself. NaNoWriMo is a very productive writing time for me because I'm under an imposed deadline, but if left to my own devices with "all the time in the world," things don't get done. Because I have all the time in the world. So, in order to motivate myself, I need to set deadlines. Draft completed by this date. Revisions done by this date. It's good practice for when I'm (someday, hopefully) under contract.

Even though I'm waxing on about schedules right now, I also have to leave myself room for flexibility. If something unexpected happens -- dinner took longer than I thought, or I decided to watch an extra episode of television (it happens) -- I need to be able to adjust and not just wig out and walk away.

Then come the lists. If I have a dozen different things to do, it's easy for me to start feeling panicky about it. It's much more calming for my mind to see everything out on paper as items I can complete and cross off. True, a big list feels really daunting at first, but once I start chipping away at it, I can convince myself it's not so bad. And then eventually it ISN'T so bad. I do this for all sorts of things -- wedding stuff, chores, bills, revisions.

Now come the priorities. All my bridal books tell me that you can't make everything your number one priority, or 1) you're not going to be a happy person, 2) nothing will be right, and 3) there just isn't enough of you to stretch to everything. Same applies to day-to-day life and writing. You have to decide what's most important, what needs to be done soon but not immediately, what can be put on the back burner, and what you might need to let go. There unfortunately aren't enough hours in the day to do everything. Create a priority list and stick to it. If blogging is at the bottom of the list, then you need to let it go for the day. You can come back to it when things calm down.

Of course, all of this is completely dependent on your own personality and time constraints, but this is what works for me. What works for you?


8 comments:

{ Steph Sessa } at: April 20, 2012 at 5:24 AM said...

I love lists too. I also love goals. I'm one of those people who doesn't set easy goals just to meet them; I want to push myself, to make sure I'm striving. If I don't meet my goals every night, I don't get frustrated because I know I was striving. Though I do love crossing things off my to-do list.

{ Old Kitty } at: April 20, 2012 at 6:52 AM said...

I am a panster with my story writing and same with my life! LOL!

Awww how exciting planning for your wedding though!! Awww that's so romantic!! Yay! Take care
x

{ Amanda Olivieri } at: April 20, 2012 at 7:49 AM said...

I love lists, too! I don't think I'd be able to function without them. I'd go into OVERLOAD and just shut down. Also, aren't those wedding planners/bridal books the greatest? I was pretty much obsessed with them during my engagement :)

{ Brooke R. Busse } at: April 21, 2012 at 11:23 AM said...

I do good with lists too. If I get off my butt enough to make them. XD I've been meaning to start making myself lists of weekly goals but haven't gotten around to it. I will make one first thing tomorrow!

Also, I tagged you with the Lucky 7 meme: http://brookerbusse.blogspot.com/2012/04/i-guess-this-is-what-i-get-for-calling.html

{ TL Conway } at: April 21, 2012 at 1:28 PM said...

I live by the list for everything EXCEPT my writing. I've found that if I make a list of everything I have to do in my WIP, I end up sticking my head in the sand.

Quick question for you: Do you write every day, even if it's only for 30 minutes?

{ Mrs. Silverstein } at: April 21, 2012 at 4:25 PM said...

Holy cow, you're a rockstar :) I barely handled student teaching and grad school while wedding planning--AND, I was lucky enough to have a mother-in-law who I swear was a wedding planner in another life. (I don't know how much help is available to you, but the more you can decide, "Ok, actually, I don't have super-strong feelings about_____, someone else can handle it" the happier life will be. For me, the _______ was "any decorative decisions beyond the colors silver and blue".) But I so, so love this:

If I'm feeling really run down on a particular day, I don't overextend myself. If I'm too tired, I say, "Okay, only 30 minutes of writing tonight." And that's what I do, unless I happen to get into the zone and feel a burst.

And also this:

I also have to leave myself room for flexibility. If something unexpected happens -- dinner took longer than I thought, or I decided to watch an extra episode of television (it happens) -- I need to be able to adjust and not just wig out and walk away.

Both of those--not overextending, and being flexible--often make me feel angsty and guilty. It's really only been in the last year that I've started believing people who remind me that if I totally burn out (physically/mentally/emotionally) it's not helping me OR my students. So I took a sick day two days after we closed the student musical I directed--not because I was full of germs but because I was a zombie. I told my principal as much at the time and (because she's awesome) she totally supported me. I had a better two weeks of teaching, even including my kids' day of worksheets with a sub, than I would have otherwise. And then it was spring break, and now I feel like a real human person again.

Anyway, love this. Keep being good to yourself as the wedding looms! Eek!

{ We Heart YA } at: April 24, 2012 at 10:05 AM said...

None of us have traditional jobs, although two of us have small children, and one has a more-than-full-time-hours freelance gig, so we totally understand about time constraints and balances. Still, sometimes we think about everything that other people (like you) do, and it just seems insane! We all need time-turners. ;)

{ M.C Eging } at: April 25, 2012 at 2:22 PM said...

I do lists as well and then plan out various projects on specific days. I find this stops me from trying to do everything all at once. It also lets me relax and not freak out about not getting everything done RIGHT NOW because everything is scheduled in its time and place

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