Mon. July 22, 2019: Commitment – The Myth of “No Time” – #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of Nile via http://www.pixabay.com

Monday, July 22
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

 

In this month of commitment, let’s explore the myth of “no time.”

“No time” or “I don’t have time” is often the excuse we give for not doing something.

Writers who aren’t serious about writing often give this as their excuse for not writing. So do non-writers, who say they’d write a book “if they had time.” No, they wouldn’t. If they wanted to write a book, they’d sit down and write a book. They don’t want it enough.

We all have 24 hours in a day. How we choose to use them defines us.

It’s not that we “don’t have time” to do something. It’s that it’s not a priority to make time for it. So let’s just be honest, because we are writers, and words matter. Use the correct ones when you don’t do something.

Each of us has different things we need to prioritize to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, our families safe. Then, we slot in the rest of the things.

Too often, it’s not time itself we lack, but time management skills. Time management skills are learned.

We also have to weigh the realities of what we want to make time for with what else is going on in life.

For me, the “necessity” of eight hours’ sleep per night is a myth. If I had bought into that myth, I could not have had a career and earned my living working in theatre and film and television production for decades. That is simply not a reality in that line of work. The profession will not change because I want eight hours’ sleep a night. Either I have to adapt, or I don’t get to be a part of that profession.

Fortunately, eight hours’ sleep a night is more detrimental than useful to me. Granted, I spent too many years not getting enough sleep — from one to four hours’ worth. I spent too much time in a state of perpetual exhaustion.

But six hours’ sleep a night is, for me, optimal. It’s natural for me to wake up after that period, feeling refreshed and eager to meet the day. Eight hours or more? I’m groggy and have trouble focusing all day. I’m more irritable on eight hours than I am on four. My muscles hurt, I get more headaches, I’m not focused. I’m not rested. Less than six hours? I can cope for several weeks, but then need to take an entire day in bed.

Yes, all those studies say you can’t catch up. But I adapted in order to have a career about which I was passionate. A career that was more important to me than demanding to lose ONE THIRD of my life in sleep. I am an individual, and it took a lot of years and a lot of mistakes, but I found something that works for me.

It’s the same with writing. When I have deadlines, I get up earlier or go to bed later. The writing is my priority. That is why I am a writer and not in a different profession. I am the breadwinner in the family. I am, technically, head of the household. “Not having time” is not an option.

Who gets that time changes. I get my time very early in the morning, because that is my peak creative time. That is spent on my novels, short stories, plays, etc. Clients get excellent work, too, but they get it within traditional business hours. Unless I’m on a tight deadline and I’m behind, in which case I do what’s necessary to get it done ON TIME.

Which brings us to punctuality, which is another part of commitment. Being ON TIME is important. Whether it’s sending something in by deadline or meeting a friend somewhere, being ON TIME is important.

Do we run into obstacles sometimes? Of course we do. And then we let the other party know.

But being constantly late? Laughing it off that “I’m always late, I can’t be on time, that’s just who I am”?

Then you are not someone I want in my life.

Way back, before the age of mobile phones, when I met someone at a location, I waited 15 minutes. If they didn’t turn up, and they didn’t phone the location and have me tracked down to say they were on their way — I left.

Being late is a sign of disrespect. It sends the message, “My time is more important than yours, I am more important than you are, and you need to waste your time in order to fit my schedule.”

That’s not true. It’s part of being an energy vampire, draining energy from all those around you instead of generating your own.

You’re late all the time? We will have a conversation about it.

It keeps happening? You’re out of my life. You’re not willing to respect me or my time. I refuse to remain in that situation. Unless you’re a first responder of some sort, work on your time management and be there, or let me know far enough in advance so I can make other plans. I get to choose who is in my life and who isn’t.

It’s part of our social commitment to each other. I don’t care how funny or brilliant or whatever someone thinks they are — if you don’t respect me, and live that respect, if it’s not a reciprocal relationship, I don’t want any part of it.

Because my writing is such a high priority in my life, I am ferociously protective of my time.

Do I always manage it well?

Of course not. I’m human. I faff around. Often, when I catch myself wasting time (which is different from taking breaks, daydreaming, and doing all those other things non-writers consider “wasting” time, but are actually an important part of the creative process), it indicates there’s something wrong with the project on which I’m working. Once I can dissect what it is, I can either solve it, or complete the project and not take on another one from that client again.

How do you mange your time? What tools do you use to keep on track? What is the biggest thing that derails you?

Published in: on July 22, 2019 at 5:48 am  Comments (2)  
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Fri. May 31, 2019: Discouraging Few Days

Friday, May 31, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Going through a rough stretch. Sorry I didn’t post yesterday. Didn’t post to the garden blog, either, and won’t be able to until next week. Considering how much work I’ve done in the garden, with so little return – oh, well. GDR wrap-up isn’t up, either; I’ll do it early next week, although I’m going to be so discouraged, I hate even the thought of making the list.

Wednesday night, the refrigerator died. Called the landlord, dashed to K-Mart to buy a set of nested super coolers. Down to the corner store to buy ice. Unloaded the fridge and freezer and packed up everything, setting it out on the deck. We had a cool night, which helped.

Cleaned out the kitchen yesterday, making room for the fridge move. The landlord came by to look at the downed tree limb and the leaning tree, and will get someone in to take care of them. He also noted everything that wasn’t done, and it turns out that one of my favorite shrubs is something that is basically a weed and shouldn’t be there.

So I feel like a complete failure.

At the same time, even though I’m a freelancer, I put in at least a 60 hour week. I’m not a retired Cape Codder, like so many others who spend eight hours a day in the yard, nor can I afford a landscape service to come in. The place hardly looks like a vacant lot. Plus, I LIKE it to look a little wild, a little like an enchanted cottage. I WANT it to have all the elements that the National Wildlife Federation list as necessary for a habitat.

This is why I need to buy. So that I can do whatever I damn well please in my own house and yard.

But I really like and respect my landlord, and hate feeling like I let him down.

They were an hour late with the new fridge, which is a spare my landlord had, but it’s really nice. It’s a little smaller, but the way the space is arranged, we have more room. It was nice to organize things a little differently.

I AM the queen of condiments. Wow. I didn’t realize I had so much. Even though I use them.

We lost some things, and some of what we lost would have been tossed in the semi-annual fridge cleanout anyway. So, it wasn’t bad.

The cats kept staring at the new fridge as though they expect it to expel tuna treats any minute. It’s pretty funny.

I was exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated, and discouraged last night, not to mention in pain. I gave in and took a Tylenol PM so that maybe, MAYBE, I’d sleep through the night for once. I woke up around 12:30, but managed to get back to sleep. Then, I felt like crap when I woke up, and still feel like crap. I’ve already had two crying jags, and it’s not even noon.

Went out to pick up some necessary stuff at Kmart again this morning – cleaning supplies, etc. Getting some work done, and then I have to make a run to the garden store to get fertilizer in.

It’s sunny, so I have to work in the yard. I still need to put back the stuff we took out of the kitchen. I still have writing to do, and LOIs to get out. I need rest, I need a break so badly, and I can’t take the time for it. But not taking the time for it means I’ll just feel worse. So I’m screwed no matter what I do.

Which really sums up the entire month of May.

Hope your May was better than mine, and have a great weekend.

Published in: on May 31, 2019 at 9:15 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 31, 2019: Discouraging Few Days  
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Mon. Dec. 17, 2018: Emotional Thrift #upbeatauthors

Monday, December 17, 2018
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

‘Tis the season of running around spreading cheer. So why am I talking about emotional thrift? Aren’t we supposed to be generous at this “most wonderful time of the year?”

Being happy and spreading cheer does not mean letting others take advantage of us.

For authors, freelancers, and other creatives who work remotely, from a home office, and set their own hours, it happens to often. “You’re home anyway, so can you just . . .?”

It happens ALL year, but the demands increase during the holiday season.

I don’t mind accepting packages for neighbors (and they do the same for me, or we’d never get anything we ordered). When neighbors or friends are sick or laid up somehow, I’ll grocery shop and run to the post office and pay their bills and run their errands. That’s all fine. We all help each other out.

What gets my goat is when people who aren’t close, who fall into the “barely acquaintance” circle rather than the “close friends” circle start making demands. Not asking for help, but making a DEMAND because “you don’t work, so you have plenty of time.”

Buttercup, I GUARANTEE I work longer and harder than you’ve ever dreamed of working. I wouldn’t have made it to Broadway, and I wouldn’t be a full-time writer now if I didn’t.

So, no, your DEMANDS do not fit into my schedule. Yes, I’m working, and no, I can’t be interrupted.

When I’m writing, I do not accept interruptions. Period. Phone’s off, I don’t answer the door.

I am ruthless about uninterrupted writing time. Or I couldn’t earn a living at it.

When people make unfair demands, I say, “My schedule doesn’t allow for it, sorry.” Making sure the “sorry” doesn’t sound sorry at all.

If they protest or try to guilt me, I add, “This isn’t a negotiation.”

The holidays, especially, are a time to SPEND my time with those I CHOOSE, not to rearrange my time to accommodate those who wrongly they feel they have a right to MY time because THEIR time is more valuable. It’s not.

That doesn’t mean I don’t keep an eye out for someone struggling during the holidays (which can be rough for some people), and that I don’t try to help them or include them or just take them out for a cup of coffee or a walk to LISTEN to them.

Again, they are people on which I CHOOSE to spend time.

If you start practicing emotional thrift now, it will get easier during the rest of the year. You’ll lessen the stress in your own life, because you are living YOUR life, not being an unpaid assistant in someone else’s.

Be happy, be well, enjoy the season!

Published in: on December 17, 2018 at 6:32 am  Comments Off on Mon. Dec. 17, 2018: Emotional Thrift #upbeatauthors  
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