Timely Tools

Time stops for no one. Those of us with kids know this. Those of us with a spouse know this. Those of us with a job know this. Those of us who are human know this.

These days, it seems like I know this better than I have before.

How can I keep up with all of my kiddos’ activities?

How can I keep up with all of my church and volunteer commitments?

How can I keep up with the writing schedule I’ve set for myself?

Never mind making time for my husband, for friends, for quality time in God’s Word…

So what’s the answer? Unfortunately, there isn’t one answer that will solve this conundrum for everyone. We each need to find the right formula for our own lives, for the tasks God has given each of us. But here are some thoughts I’ve had (as I try again and again to figure this out myself).

1. Use the Time!

We all have a given amount of time which we can choose how to spend. Sure, some of my time must be used in making meals, doing laundry, and the like. But how many minutes are wasted checking social media sites on my phone because I feel like I need a break? Decide what’s important, what takes a large chunk of time, what can be squeezed in here and there, what can be cut loose…and what really refreshes, rather than distracts. I’m working on this now, and working to reassign some of the chores to the children. They do some already, but can learn to do some more. When I use my time, it won’t slip away from me.

2. Set Some Goals!
I’m not a goal-setter. Keeping my own schedule and not being responsible to an editor for when I finish writing projects is nice. But I also know that when a deadline (goal?) is imposed upon me, I am usually able to use that pressure to propel myself to meet the goal (deadline?). So I’m going to start setting more specific goals and make better use of the time that I do have. (I set a big one of having Book Two of my Regency Silhouettes series ready for publication this winter — that’s the end of February at the latest. Now I need to break up that goal into smaller goals so I don’t feel so overwhelmed!)

3. Allow Support!
I love support, and I’d venture to say that not many would claim that they don’t want any support at all. But when it comes down to it, I often fail to utilize some very important support. Last year, my husband and I figured out that his schedule allowed him to be home with our then-two-year-old for a few hours twice a week so that I could go somewhere else and write. For the first few days of that, I was feeling really uncertain — both in my ability to write, and in the validity of my need to go elsewhere. So I stayed home and got no writing done. Finally, I made myself go (anyone else out there need a few weeks to talk yourself into going somewhere alone for the first time?) and I found that time, given to me by my husband, to be invaluable to the completion of Penelope’s Hope. Now, I work harder to recognize possible supports and to offer that to others; a friend and I have even started trading our non-school-aged kids twice a week.

4. Get Out of Here!
I have to leave the house to write, either physically or mentally. I often go to a coffee shop when I’m in the middle of a project that needs to keep its momentum. At home, I tend to get distracted — Oh, I’ll just fold this load of laundry turns into Those pants need a patch on the knee, which ends up leading to I’ve really been putting off this sewing project; I’ll just work on it for a few minutes before I start writing. And then the kids are getting home from school and I’ve written nothing. Setting aside time, either in a quiet room in my house (and refusing to be distracted!) or at a completely different location, really helps me to focus on the task of writing.

5. Write, Write, Write!
I won’t say that I’ve found a perfect balance and am meeting my writing goals and the house is always clean and the laundry always done and the meals always prepped. This is still very much a work in progress. But so is my writing. And the more time I take to write, the more time it seems I have to write. When I write, that part of me comes alive and quickens to the assurance that this is part of God’s plan for me, and that He will use me in this capacity. And I want to keep writing! He also gives me the wisdom to (I hope) balance it with the rest of life, and to find joy in all of it. But it sure would be nice if there were laundry fairies. 😉

What do you do to make sure you have time for all the many things on your plate?