I blogged about the topic in my recent post, Overcommitment: Too Much on Our Plates. Judging by the comments, I’m not alone in my struggle to juggle everything on my to-do lists.
As I noted in that post, my real-life, romance-writing sister is an analyst by day. When I mentioned during our lengthy lunch last week that my overfull schedule was getting me down, Kal’s antenna went up. Normally I mentor her, but that day I reaped the benefit of her expertise.
Kal asked me four clarifying questions.
1) What are you involved in right now?
She listened while I enumerated the many tasks I perform, giving me a knowing look that led me to believe she could see something I couldn’t.
2) What is your primary focus?
That was easy. I’m a writer with contractual obligations, so writing is my top priority. Since I’m an Empty Nester who doesn’t work outside the home, I devote much of my day to writing and writing-related activities.
The answer would be different for those who work outside the home, still have children living with them, are schooling their children, etc.
3) How many hours a week are you spending on writing, and how many are you spending on other activities?
I hesitated, which Kal, being the astute analyst she is, noticed. She ventured a guesstimate based upon her research. (Who knew she was reading my blogs and Facebook posts?)
I couldn’t argue with her numbers. She was spot on. A significant portion of my day was devoted to writing-related activities rather than writing itself.
4) What can you cut out so you have the time you need for your writing?
“Cut out?” I gulped. “But everything I’m doing is important.”
Kal shook her head and gave me one of those smiles that let me know she wasn’t buying it.
And then she said something that penetrated my defenses.
“Writing is your job. If you’re not spending enough of your time working on your stories, you’re not doing your job.”
I sat there dumbstruck while she nodded in Yoda fashion. (She’s my younger sister, so I’m pretty sure she got a kick out of being the one doling out the wisdom.)
Kal knows me well, and she knew she’d appealed to my mile-wide responsible person streak. No way could I ignore her counsel. To let down those who are counting on me would be contrary to my obedient oldest sibling nature.
We spent the last of our time together that day determining what I needed to let go of.
Letting go of tasks isn’t easy, but doing so is vital if we’re to have time for those activities that are most important.
On Friday, I will, in Paul Harvey fashion, reveal “the rest of the story” and share some uplifting truths that enabled me to make some difficult decisions.
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Have you ever made a list of all the things you’re involved in?
Are you spending enough time on your top priority tasks?
Do you feel a need to cut out some activities?
Do you view your writing as a job?