8 ways to simplify your life for more time to write

18 September 2017 / 2 comments

I work full time and I'm a part-time solo mum, so I'm stretched already. I've been known to fish my underwear out of the dirty laundry basket and clean the bathroom with a used facewasher. I keep my head above water by cutting corners with crocodile scissors.

I'm often asked 'But how do you find time to write?' Well, if I'm working on something I get up at 5am in the morning and I do it. I drink a long black coffee, my head is clear, and I work. I might work intensely like this for three months. At the end of that period I'm worn out. I take a break. I bake banana bread and grow seedlings and I can't stand the sight of my laptop screen. I sleep in. I recuperate.

The more experience I get, the more I know that working intensely is unsustainable over long periods of time. So here are the things I do during those periods to simplify my life for more time writing:

1.  Get less creative in the kitchen and more creative in your mind. Use your freezer, it should become your best friend. I cut up fruit and veg for my smoothies and freeze them - ginger cut into slices, bananas, betroot and kale. I bulk cook meals and freeze them. I find butchers, delis and cafes that have quality homemade meals such as casseroles and curries that I freeze for time-poor nights.

2. Make a master list for jobs to do on specific days. For example, mine is shop Monday, bulk cook Tuesday, budget/bills Wednesday, kids homework Thursday, washing Friday, garden Saturday, slump day Sunday. This clears your mind for other more important things and helps you feel secure knowing these jobs are going to get done, but on a certain day.

3. Know that you don't have to respond to emails or social media comments straight away. If you're feeling overwhelmed, let things slide until you've come up for air.

4. Let your standards drop and don't be a martyr. In an ideal world I like to bake my children's school snacks, but it puts a huge amount of pressure on me when I'm feeling time poor. Recently, they ate Aldi-bought school snacks for a month. I felt guilty. But it didn't kill them.

5. Multitask free time with research. Right now I'm writing a YA novel and the characters are into skateboarding. I'm watching Thrasher magazine's King of the Road with my daughter (foul language ... BLEEP). Sometimes on the weekends we've been going to the local skatepark so the kids can ride their scooters and I can observe the more experienced skaters (more foul language ... BLEEP, BLEEP ...)

6. Only work when you're most effective. Understand which time of the day you are most switched on and write then. For me it's first thing in the morning. If it's not flowing throw in the towel and do some monkey work and come back to it when you're feeling refreshed.

7. Don't be too proud to ask for help even when it feels like a weakness. I now know when I need to ask in favours such as playdates or babysitting for my kids if I have a deadline.

8. Reassure yourself that you have plenty of time. Time is a mindset. I'm often thinking 'I have no time'. But then, when I really think about it, I do. Sometimes I'll print off a monthly calendar and pencil in the hours I have free for a specific project. An hour here and there adds up. After I've done my 'I have time' calendar I rarely refer to it again, but I feel soothed.

I'm Rowena. I'm an author and blogger. My latest novel is The Replacement Wife, available as an ebook from HarperCollins, from $2.99. Luisa tries to find a wife for her husband.

Subscribe to my newsletter for tips on reading, writing and publishing in the digital revolution and receive a free ebook of Love Potion, featuring my flash fiction and a short story about stitching the heart together again ...


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