I have a very busy life…like VERY busy. I try to squeeze 50 hours of work into my 40 hour work week. I coach my daughter’s Odyssey of the Mind team, am the Band Boosters Board President for my other daughter, teach parenting classes, and conduct trainings around Southern California. I have active kids, a busy husband and a rich social life. I exercise, meditate daily, and try to spend quality time with each member of my family. Oh, and did I mention I try to spend 30 or more hours weekly improving the craft of writing?
Yeah – I know – crazy busy.
Whenever anyone hears about my schedule they always ask th same thing? How do you do that? Do you EVER sleep? The answer – of course I sleep. And yeah, sometimes things don’t get done.
But most of the time I am able to keep all the balls in the air.
So…how do I do this?
Planning. I maintain a long to-do list and work hard to keep my head fully focused on whatever I am doing. When I am at work, I am fully present at work. When I am home, I am fully present at home. I learned a long time ago that if I can completely focus on the business at hand, I can accomplish a great deal.
Most people think I multi-task well. Really, that isn’t it. I just hyper focus on single activities and can switch between activities effortlessly. It looks like multi-tasking, but it is actually much, much better.
In addition to focusing on a single activity fully, I am a planner. If I can “see” that everything really can get done, I relax and plow through my tasks. The key to my planning is prioritizing what I need to do. At work, at home, with writing. I will give myelf deadlines on my writing so that I treat it more like work.
Here’s an example: I have four distinct writing projects, plus my blog posts, that rattle around in my head at any given time. These include two nonfiction projects, my newly finished YA fiction, and my NaNo novel. I prioritorize based the needs of my agent (who reps my nonfiction project (s)) and the status ofmy fiction. Currently this means finishing a proposal for my agent FIRST, then the revisions of Lacrimosa, then the NaNo novel. Sure, I may fall behind on the NaNo novel…but agent always trumps NaNo, and a completed ms always trumps one in progress. So, there you go…a writing plan.
Once I have a plan, I attach reasonable deadlines – and yes, I am anal-retentive enough that I put it all on a calendar. This results in a lot of work getting done in any given week.
I carve out writing time daily – usually while the kids are doing homework, or after they go to bed.
I carve out family time daily as well.
As for meditation time (or exercise time) – I am not as consistent as I need to be on these – but generally I do these things either first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
And yes, I do sleep about 7 hours every night.
In the end, the balancing act for me has been a lesson in deliberate attention/focus. In this way, it is a great spiritual practice as I learn to be completely present in every moment of the day.
How do you guys figure it all out? I am always loking for new ideas…