Time flies. At least it seems to when I’m under a deadline. When I’m having fun, it just dances. When I’m bored, it crawls. It doesn’t stop when I’m stressed, it just hurries faster. And it doesn’t slow down when I’m having a wonderfully deep conversation with a friend that I don’t want to end. It ticks on by and the next thing you know one of my teen boys is calling asking when I’m going to come home and feed them.
Time has its own mind and rhythm–and you want me to tell you how to manage it?
Someday when I’m home, just hubby and me in a quiet house, time will be easier to manage. I’ll have a set writing schedule and my creative juices will be pumping, ready to pour onto the page at exactly 10:43 each morning. I will have won my life-long battle with time.
That’s the dream.
After taking a personality test the other day, however, I suspect I’ll still find time unmanageable. But I’m not ready for my bubble to be popped on this one, so let’s pretend it might get easier for me as I mature. After all, there needs to be some reward for surviving my crazy, loud life with four teenagers and a revolving door of their friends pouring in and out. There’s really only one constant in my day as I try to manage them. I can absolutely rely on knowing that I will be asked 133 times when I’m cooking and what it will be. Other than that, there is little continuity.
But dreams of scheduled writing times and whines about my lack thereof aren’t offering you much take-home. I’m often told, “I don’t know how you do all you do.” I must be accomplishing SOMETHING. I think mostly I’m just snowing people–looking more poised and efficient than I am, but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve–after all a gal with absolutely no concept of time still has to live in it. She just has to find her own way of doing so.
While I can’t do detailed schedules (they make me break out in a sweat), I do have big picture plans. I need some quiet time in my recliner before I start my day–unless I’ve forgotten to blog for ACFW, then I postpone the tea and quiet meditation and instead fling a prayer to God that I can figure out something to write while barreling to my computer with a growling stomach and caffeine headache coming on.
The calendar next to my computer keeps my deadlines in the forefront of my mind–at least when I look at it and remember what it says. And my mouse pad is actually paper, where I keep a running list of what I must get done in my “work” world. I’m not a list person, but since I’ve hit my mid-forties my brain needs a little help.
When I am up against a big deadline I protect time (still not able to manage it). I resist the urge to head out to Starbucks with a friend or to watch the latest chick-flick with my daughter. (At least most of the time.) I block out the amount of time it takes to write the project and add at least an afternoon for all the time I’ll spend sweating, feeling inadequate, and begging God to help me believe that I can actually write. Sometimes I add a whole day for this. I don’t mean to, but that’s how it turns out–which means the next day I HAVE to dig in and write harder ’cause I’m out of time. This actually works pretty well. Other than remembering to write for this particular blog, I’m very rarely late on a writing deadline.
The other thing that helps me get my work done is laundry. Really. The washing machine is right next to my office, so if I sort laundry for the six of us and start writing, it’s the perfect set-up. Every time the dryer buzzes I get a break from sitting at the computer so I can rush to the couch and lay all those T-shirts neatly across its arm. Then I write away. The goal is that both the writing deadline will be met and the laundry washed by seven the next evening. Then I can fold laundry for two hours giving me an excuse to watch a Jane Austen flick. I warn my boys for hours in advance of that moment that the TV is MINE. And I have a built in reward for keeping my bottom in my office chair and getting the deadline met.
Between a busy season of life, a dominant right brain, and a personality that feels stifled when it gets too scheduled, I never try to manage my time. I try to live in it, roll with it, and play with it. I work hard and fast in it when I claim a space of it for my writing. And I pray like crazy. I figure if God called me to write while everything else is going crazy in my life, then He can make my fingers fly across the keyboard. And He often does.
For me time management is more of a passion than a schedule. I believe in what I’m doing, so I grab the opportunities to do my thing and work like a mad woman for that space of time I claimed between homeschooling and supper–or everyone else’s bedtime and morning.
I know some of you wonderful left-brained people whose personality tests have letters in it like S, T, or J are now breathing too quickly and getting a stomachache. You’ll be okay, really. I may not have the world’s greatest advice, but next time I see you I’ll enfold you in a great big hug and we’ll both feel better.
A writer, speaker, and homeschooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is passionate about God’s grace and intimacy with Jesus. Her website, Soul Scents, offers a free weekly devotional, and you can visit her blog at GraceReign. Paula serves as president of HIS Writers, the north Denver ACFW chapter. A devoted Pride and Prejudice fan, she loves good conversation, peppermint ice cream, and walking barefoot. Her greatest desire is to be close enough to Jesus to live His fragrance.