By definition, if you are a 10-minute novelist, then you are time-crunched.
You have commitments to your job, your family, and your social life. Because you are a 10-Minute Novelist, you have to find pockets of time here and there to get those words down. But even with all the best intentions, it’s hard to do this.
Take stock of where each second of your day goes.
You may have time leaks. If you do, look at this blog post on how to plug them. If you’re really serious about making the most of your time, you need to track it. This isn’t any different that tracking finances if you are trying to get your money under control. This isn’t any different than tracking calories if you are getting your weight under control. Pardon the pun, but tracking your time leaks is time-consuming and difficult. But at the end of the exercise, you’ll be able to see where your time actually goes. This may be discouraging, but you’ll be able to assess honestly your time leaks and make informed choices on how to plug them. Some of your commitments are rigid and you can’t get out of them — like going to work each day. But some are flexible. Use their flexibility to your advantage.
Consider how efficient you are with certain tasks.
Are there ways that you can speed everything up? Can you do all your shopping once a week? Perhaps you can go a little faster in cleaning your kitchen? Perhaps you can store paperwork more efficiently so you aren’t overwhelmed by it? Many household tasks can’t be avoided, but they can be sped up to their most efficient. As tempting as it is, you can’t really write and cook dinner at the same time. (I know, I’ve tried.) So instead, come up with ways to speed up dinner, like making freezer meals, cutting vegetables in advance, or putting something in the crockpot earlier in the day. Eating and cleaning are commitments that you can work around without sacrificing what’s important to you.
Can you eliminate some tasks?
If you have assessed your time, you may find that you are spending time on the unnecessary or redundant. If you don’t enjoy gardening, then don’t plant one this spring. And if you don’t like fussing over what to give your relatives, then buy gift cards and call it done. No task you do should be without scrutiny. Often we say yes to commitments because we don’t think we have a choice, but we do. I suggest re-evaluating some of the decisions you ‘ve made and eliminating or simplifying them to maximize your time.
Can you delegate?
Delegating is my all-time favorite method of saving time and I explain why here. Is it possible for you to give some of your household responsibilities to others? Can you step back and encourage them to participate without micromanaging? Can you be grateful for extra help? Many hands make light the work. While explaining to your family or roommates what needs to be done takes time, you will save time in the long run.
Can you get up earlier or stay up later?
I am often surprised at how much I accomplish when I get up early. And while I would have never called me an early bird, to have some daily tasks done before 8:00 AM is encouraging and motivating. Can you give yourself an extra half hour, at either end of the day? It is possible to squeeze in bits of time between your other obligations.
Can you be more organized?
Could you sort the mail as soon as you pick it up instead of leaving it in piles? Can you put similar things together in your pantry? Could you give certain tasks certain times of the day or week so that everything can get done in an orderly fashion? We often lose time by not grouping tasks together. Consider how you can meet your household requirements swiftly so that you can block more time for yourself.
Do you need to communicate your needs?
Could it be that the other people in your household could do more to help your productivity? This may be the hardest thing to do on this list, but it could also be the most life-changing. Can you discuss your needs with the people you live with? Or can you delegate chores? Can you start good habits of order? Could you model responsible, non-whiny attitudes about new policies and order?
Are you wasting time?
Where do you put all of your time? Do you dawdle? Are there too many cat videos in your life? Do you catch yourself playing too much Candy Land? You may find it helpful to identify these time wasters and figure out a way to limit yourself. You’ve probably heard it said that life is short. It is. Why would you want to waste it on the trivial or uninteresting?
These could be radical changes for you.
But if you really want to make time for your dream, you’ll have to look at your commitments in a way that could be difficult or painful.
But you have a dream to write, or you wouldn’t be here.
You can do a lot in 10-minute increments.
Find more of them.
Your dreams are worth it.
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Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.