Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Time Management

Told you last week this would be the hard part.

Quick recap: this year, instead of setting a list of New Year’s resolutions that would only peter out in a week, I’m resolving a bit at a time. Specifically, one small change every week, all leading up to a better, healthier, more financially stable life by the end of December. The first week involved adding exercise to my far-too-sedentary lifestyle. Last week I resolved to write 1000 words a day. It only takes an hour, two at the most. Shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Ha. Ha-ha, in fact.

As usual, I underestimated my ability to blow off days at a time. Too many other things get in the way. Housework. Eating. Doing the dishes after eating. Showers. Working the paid freelance job. Trips to the library to use their free Internet. Grocery shopping. Reading. Mindless TV. When I finally glance at the clock, I discover yet another day has gotten away from me.

Last week wasn’t a total fail. I hit the target four days out of seven. On one day I wrote at least 2000 words. On average, however, trying to play catchup never goes well either.

The good news is, this can be fixed. It’s all due to habit, and habits can be changed. I just have to alter behaviors and stay on top of things. To that end, we come to Week 3’s resolution, the frenemy of writers everywhere: the schedule.

Mine’s simple. Get up in the morning, have my tea, write longhand until I get hungry (usually around 9 a.m., when the Supernatural reruns start on TNT. Gives me something to watch while I eat breakfast). In short, do my writing in the morning, when I’m as close to energetic as I get. Afternoons are reserved for the paid freelance assignments, trips to the library for email, and possible typing. Evenings are there for whatever—research, edits, extra writing, inventory of all those bits and pieces I’ve got stashed in the closet. It’s not like there’s anything decent on TV these days. Sundays I take off and do housework. Sounds like a plan to me.

It also sounds like a job, which still makes a part of me recoil in horror. On the other hand, it’s a job with no commute, which makes it much easier to live with, especially at this time of year. Snow and ice storms become an asset when you don’t have to drive in them. Getting stuck in the house gives you a chance to catch up on things, like dusting and doing the dishes. And piling up a stack of rough drafts to be polished into submittable stories.

Will it work? In theory, yeah. Structure is always a good thing, and deadlines keep you focused. Though it could take time to adjust. I did fine on Sunday—got my 1000 words in, then worked on a freelance assignment. Then hit a speedbump Monday, as I devoted most of the day to freelance work, which comes with an actual paycheck. I have to get that done and out of the house first, before I can start on the 1500 words I need to write today to even out yesterday. And write and post this blog, of course. I’d better add “prioritize” to this week’s resolution.

Resolutions can be kept and changes can be made. We’re into Week 3 and I’ve kept up with my daily ten minutes of exercise. Sometimes it’s simple calisthenics or hiking up and down the aisles of the KMart, but any form of movement is a plus when you haven’t been moving at all. Is it doing any good? Must be; I seem to have more energy, and I don’t feel like taking naps all the time. Weight loss? Too soon to tell. The pants say yes, the scale says no. In February I’ll up the stakes to 15 minutes a day. The ultimate goal is a minimum of 20 minutes per day at least three times a week and 15 minutes on the other days. That probably won’t happen until spring, when I can go outside. Riding the bike around the house doesn’t work, not even in a trailer.

Next week will be easier. I’ll be modifying my diet with more fruits and veggies and cutting back on the portions. I can only eat what I bring into the house, so if I only buy healthy foods, I’m golden. Now I just have to find healthy foods that taste as good as junk food. I suspect I’ll be eating more fruits than veggies. Why doesn’t lettuce come in a sugar variety?

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