A Different Way to Think About Managing Your Time

It’s about the time you DO still have.

When you think about the amount of hours in a day, you probably also start creating a mental list of things you don’t have time for. We’ve all done this. However, if you want to make better use of your time, you might want to consider changing the way you think about time management.

It’s actually very rare that you “don’t have time” for a specific thing. You just end up filling all available time for that thing with other things. Most likely things you would rather be doing – things you want to do – instead of that one thing you probably really should do – the thing you NEED to do.

You will always find a way to fill up time. There are 24 hours in a day, around 16 of which you will probably spend awake. That’s a lot of time to get a lot of things done. Eight spare hours of awake time if you follow a 40-hour workweek schedule – seven if you have a long commute both ways. It does not take you eight hours to accomplish everything else. No, really. There is always spare time – time you will spend on your phone, or in front of your TV. You don’t always realize it, but it happens. Often.

Time management is not about assessing the time you DON’T have to do something. It is about surveying the free, waking hours you do have, and filling them with both things you want to do and things you need to do. Look at writing as something that needs to happen – if you want to finish writing that book or keep up with your blog. It doesn’t matter if you don’t FEEL like doing it: you have to. And if you allow yourself just enough time to get it done, it’s that much more likely to happen.

Writing isn’t always fun. You’re going to feel pressured and stressed, sometimes. in some ways, that’s a good thing. I, for example, accomplish less when I have less to do or fewer deadlines. Separate your ‘want to do’ time from your ‘need to do’ time. Yes, I want to binge-watch Grey’s Anatomy for about four hours today, but first I have to get at least four hours of work done. I have time to binge-watch Grey’s for eight or more hours – that doesn’t mean I’m going to do that. Hopefully …

I’ve written it plenty of times before, but schedule, schedule, schedule. Block out that writing time, sit down and get it done. If you have more time than you think you do, don’t wait – just get it done. Set a small goal and just try to get there before your block of writing time ends. If you have to put writing off until the end of the day, do so – and find a way to force yourself to do it even when you don’t want to. I’m not telling you this because I’m good at it – I’ve already told you my almost-didn’t-win-NaNoWriMo-because-procrastination story. We can all do a little better at using our time wisely.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find out how Meredith survives another near death experience – I mean go do some work.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.