Everybody gets the same 24 hours in a day to get things done. You may feel like you’re maxed out, and you are sure you can’t add one more thing to your busy day. You think there’s no room for anything else, especially something like writing. So, how do you make time to write? Whether you have that novel you’ve always wanted to write churning around in your mind or you want to start a blog, there are simple ways to squeeze in short writing blocks throughout your day.
To help you start developing the habit of seeing those precious minutes to write, start by evaluating your day. Even if you are already a planner, taking a different look at your day can help you find a few minutes here and there you could use for writing. Once you understand where and how you are spending your time, you can discover which tools work best for you. Once you have time blocked off for writing, protect that time by saying no to tasks that would take that time away.
Evaluate Your Day
Start by evaluating how you spend your days. Juggling a job, family, pets, and life, in general, can make it seem like we are always on the go. Taking a hard look at where you spend your time can help you figure out how to make time to write. Get a notepad or cheap notebook—doesn’t have to be anything fancy—and keep a log of each day for at least a week. If you can, log a full two weeks to make sure you are capturing everything you do. Write the date and day of the week at the top and then record the start and stop times and the things you do. Don’t use this as a schedule to pre-plan things, record what you do as you are doing it.
The goal of this exercise isn’t to account for every single minute of your day; you can have gaps. Completing this exercise is a tool to help you see where you are spending your time. Look for areas where you could take 15 minutes to write. If you are like most people, these small blocks of time are probably tucked in with some other task. Do you work a “day job” that gives you an hour for lunch? Are you waiting for your child at sporting practice or another lesson? Those are fantastic times to carve out a few minutes to write.
Planners, Calendars, and Schedules – Oh my!
For those of you who do live and die by your planner, calendar, or another scheduling tool, you may think you have a perfect picture of where your time is spent. You may think you don’t need to log your activities over the course of a couple of weeks to find the sweet spots where you can work in a few minutes to write.
I’d still encourage you to do the exercise. Once you’ve created your log, compare it against your schedule or planner. How close are they? Are there opportunities you didn’t see before comparing your plan to your activity log? For example, you may have a doctor’s appointment scheduled in your planner. Did you sit in the waiting room? What did you do while you waited? Situations like this is an example of a missed writing opportunity.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Now that you know where you are spending your time, you are ready to write. The important thing now is that you have a way to write that you are comfortable using no matter where you are. Again, you don’t have to go out and buy the latest, greatest tablet or laptop. If you prefer notepads and handwriting, do that. If you want to carry a laptop with you, do that.
However, don’t forget about the one thing you probably already have a habit of taking with you everywhere you go—your cell phone. Typing on that tiny little touch screen keyboard may not give you the efficiency of a laptop, but it will still allow you to take advantage of situations where you may not be able to use another device.
Also, don’t forget about programs that allow you to work across multiple devices. You can use your phone to start a document at Susie’s soccer practice and finish it on your home computer once the kids are in bed. Apps and programs that allow you to sync files make writing on the go and in small sessions much more manageable. There are cloud drives and other programs that let you take your documents with you anywhere you go.
Just Say No
Another critical factor in how to make time to write is learning to say no. Once you have found your writing time buried in your daily tasks, don’t voluntarily give that time up. If writing is important to you, prioritize it like you would other “to do” items. Uphold your end of the agreement when it comes to staffing the concession stand at your child’s sporting events or picking up extra shifts at work, but don’t volunteer for more than needed. I know this sounds like I’m saying be a lousy parent or employee or don’t be a team player, but saying no is alright.
You also have to say no to yourself sometimes. It’s easy to get distracted by the other things we enjoy or feel we have to do. Don’t let new episodes of your favorite TV show or anything else to take the place of your writing time. You could use those things as rewards for meeting your writing goals each day or week. Do what you need to do to protect your writing time once you find it.
If writing is something you want to do, but you couldn’t ever figure out how to make time to write, I hope the information above has helped you. There are hidden pockets of time throughout the day when you could be writing. It may take longer to write on your phone or in short bursts, but I guarantee you that writing this way is much better than not writing at all.
As a bonus, I’ve also included a very basic, no-frills, printable worksheet to help you track your day. You can follow the link below to print a few copies, or you can use it as a guide to set up your notebook.