We all get 24 hours in a day. We have to use those hours differently. Right now, you may feel maxed out. You want to write, but there’s no time. I have some good news. You probably do have time to write; you have to find it and prioritize it.
There are simple ways to squeeze in short writing blocks throughout your day. Let’s start by evaluating your day. Don’t ditch your planners or lists, keep those for now. I want to introduce you to an activity log. An activity log will help you look at your day differently. Understanding where and how you spend your time, you can discover which tools work best for you to carve out some writing time.
Evaluate Your Day
Start by evaluating how you spend your day. Juggling a job, family, pets, and life, in general, can make it seem like you are always on the go. Take a hard look at what you are doing and when. 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 your days for two weeks. Keep it simple! You need the date and day of the week across the top of the page. Then note the rough start and stop time for everything you do throughout the day. Don’t use this as a schedule to pre-plan tasks; record what you do as you are doing it.
The goal isn’t to account for every single minute of your day; you can have gaps. Be honest. You can always destroy the pages later. Completing this exercise is a tool to help you see where you are spending your time and help you find spots where you can carve out small writing blocks. Do you work a “day job” that gives you breaks and lunch? Do you have kids in sports or other activities where you have to wait during practices or lessons? Those are fantastic opportunities to spend 10-15 minutes writing.
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 you spend your time.
Try the activity log for a few days and compare to your planner. Are they different? Does your activity log show you things you didn’t put on your calendar? 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
Once you are open to the idea and practice of writing in 10-15 minute blocks buried inside of other events, be prepared. You need a way to write that you are comfortable using no matter where you are. The method doesn’t matter as much as making sure it fits you. If you prefer notepads and handwriting, do that. If you want to carry a laptop with you, do that. Don’t forget about the one thing you probably already take 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
Once you find your writing time, you have to protect it. You have to say no when others try to infringe on that time. 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. We want to be helpful but saying no is all right.
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 helps you find a few minutes here and there to get started. There are hidden pockets of time throughout the day where 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.