Organization,  Perils of a Mom Writer,  Time Management

6 Practical Ways To Plug Time Leaks

Why don’t we have enough time in the day?

We have only 24 hours and if we’re smart, (and not a parent of small children) we use a third of those to sleep. So that leaves us with 16 hours to do all we need to do. I’m writing this with my lengthy to-do list next to me. I’m shaking my head wondering if I really will get it all done.

To make matters worse, I know that in my day, I’ll have time leaks.

Time leaks are these little places where nothing is getting done, where I catch myself playing Solitaire on my phone or getting way too interested in dusting the house.

 I bet you have time leaks. I think, that these little bits add up. These leaks can be a problem in the long term.

Ever since I decided to find 10-minute increments here and there to write, I’ve started viewing my day differently.

Here’s how:

1. Make a list of every place you use your time. By having an accurate assessment of where time goes, you’ll be able to plug a hole or two and gain a few minutes.

2. Limit your favorite time sucks. Social media, for example, can be a huge leak. It’s important that you are aware of how much time you spend there. Make your social media time a reward if you can.

3. Evaluate your task efficiency. Make a note of where you do the same activity. Is there a way to combine tasks that are similar? For example, can you save all your errands for one day a week? Can you create a master grocery list and go food shopping less frequently? Can you clean up the kitchen while you’re cooking?

July 15-17, 2021, 10 Minute Novelists is holding a Writers Conference “Spark Your Passion, Ignite Your Story” with Tex Thompson, Angela Ackerman, Eric Smith, and Steven James in the greater Cincinnati, OH area!

4. Automate what you can. Modern technology is extremely helpful here. Pay your bills, make your deposits, and transfer funds automatically if it’s possible.

5. Delegate your responsibilities. I’m a firm believer in teaching family members to help out. Of course, by delegating a chore you must let them do it and not micromanage. Kids over the age of six are capable of helping around the house and with proper teaching and patience, can make a noticeable difference in a home’s efficiency.

6. Use tools to make yourself more efficient. I’m also a big fan of crockpots, rice cookers and any app that can take care of tasks for me.

How do you find extra time to write?

  • Lower your expectations for the amount of writing you can do in a day.
  • Be realistic about your firm commitments. Infants and toddlers take up a LOT of time.
  • Be honest with yourself about those optional activities that you could eliminate, like PTA or that birthday party this weekend.
  •  Can you get up a bit earlier? Go to bed a bit later without affecting your body’s needs?
  • Can you multi-task in any way, say, listen to audiobooks during your drive to work? Or, watch your favorite TV show while you fold laundry?
  • Is it possible to organize the clutter?
  • Can you plan or prepare meals in advance?
  • Do you have a problem with dawdling or idling?
  • Would you lower your expectations for holidays, extracurricular activities, or family events?
  • Can you say “no” to people around who need your and energy?
  • Is there downtime in your commute? Do you have to regularly wait on something or someone?
  • Can you group daily, weekly and monthly tasks together so that time isn’t wasted?
  • Can you organize carpools and babysitting with other families so that each of you has more time?

We get only 24 hours in a day and we have to spend it somewhere. If you are really serious about pursuing your writing dreams, you’re going to have to make time for it. This may mean that you start a Search and Destroy mission on the time leaks in your life.

Katharine Grubb is an author, poet, homeschooling mother, camping enthusiast, bread-baker, and believer in working in small increments of time. She leads 10 Minute Novelists, an international Facebook group of time-crunched writers. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.