You Have More Time to Write Than You Think
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. What’s more, I wanted to be a writer who actually got paid for writing. But time has always been an issue for me. I work a demanding 50+ hour/week day job, while caring for an elderly parent and sharing domestic duties with my spouse.
But I was determined to figure out how to carve out more time. For one week I kept track of how I was spending my day. I took notes of when I got up, when I got lunch, how long I watched TV, etc. At the end of the week, I learned the following:
- I hit snooze a lot in the morning. A LOT.
- I’m often tired when I first come home, so doing deep research or careful editing was out of the question at that hour.
- My day job is demanding but it’s full of fits and starts with more downtime than I realized.
- My weekends are busy but I watch WAY more television on Saturdays and Sundays than I realized.
After seeing how I spent my time I knew that I could carve out a few more hours a week by doing the following. I hope that some of these strategies work for you, too!
I stopped hitting snooze!
I forced myself to get up the first time my alarm went off, giving me 45 extra minutes EACH DAY. I also bought a $20 coffeepot with a timer so that the coffee would be ready when I got up. It’s amazing what I could do with 45 extra minutes. On my first day of actually getting up on time, I answered about 5 emails, polished a pitch I’d started the night before, and ordered a new set of business cards. All small things, but the small things add up. Getting them out of the way first thing in the morning, before my family woke up, turned out to be key to my productivity.
I started keeping a “dream journal” at the day job.
Between meetings — or even during meetings when it was clear my input wasn’t needed — I’d jot down lists of dream clients and dream pitches. I’d also write down ideas for any writing I was currently working on. This journal has become especially valuable during those extra 45 minutes in the morning, when my brain is still half asleep. If I’m not sure how to spend those morning minutes, I take out the journal and look for inspiration. There’s always something in there to get my mind going.
I blacked out two solid hours every weekend for writing.
This may seem like an obvious step, but it wasn’t obvious to me before I started taking a long, hard look at how I was spending my time. All those episodes of Nailed It! that I’d watched on Netflix were endlessly entertaining, but those were just hours wasted that could’ve been spent making money. Now I only let myself watch TV after I’ve logged my two hours of writing and editing. The feeling of reward when I finally let myself sit and watch TV is amazing.
By making these three time-saving changes, I found about 6–8 extra hours per week to devote to freelancing. They’ve made a huge difference in terms of income and satisfaction. But even if making more money isn’t your goal, you can use these strategies to devote more time to hobbies, spiritual practice, or family activities. It’s amazing the difference just an hour or two makes. If you find any of these strategies helpful, let me know! I’d love to hear from you.