Discipline,  Perils of a Mom Writer,  Time Management

How Your Wasted Time is Like An Overpriced Latte From A Designer Coffeeshop


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

Now, I compare wasted time to a designer coffee that I might buy daily without thinking about it. I’d like to suggest that in the area of time management, conscientious writers need to consider the latte factor.

I did not coin the term Latte Factor. It was, however coined by financial guru David Bach,In his book, The Automatic Millionaire. In his bookhe claims that consumers spend little bits of money here an there, say, buying daily designer drinks.

The Latte Factor of Time Management
The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach

He claims, and rightfully I think, that these little bits add up. Wise consumers should see that this “money leak” is a problem in the long term. His suggestion is that consumers take active steps to stop those money leaks so that they can save money, perhaps significant amounts.

I’d like to suggest that we do the same with time.

We get only 24 hours in a day and we have to spend it somewhere. This may take some soul searching, but if you are really serious about pursuing your writing dreams, you’re going to have to make time for it.

Great gifts for writers
Mug says, “In the time it takes to drink this coffee, you could have written 300 words.”

I am a firm believer in writing in 10 minute chunks. And like Bach’s Latte Factor, I believe I  can find more time in my day if I look hard for it. 

I also believe that you can find 10 minute chunks of time to write if you are willing to  be brutal with the things that take up your time.

We don’t have any carry over minutes, or um, “milky minutes” to put toward the next day.


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.
  • Get rid of time wasters, like mindless television.
  • Consider everything that you do, from the time you get out of bed each morning to the time you go to bed at night — where is the time slipping from you?
  •  Can you get up a bit earlier? Go to bed a bit later without affecting your body’s needs?
  • Can you streamline tasks like meals and chores so that they take less time?
  • Can you delegate to your family members any appropriate tasks, like cleaning, laundry or cooking?
  • Can you multi-task in anyway, say, listen to audiobooks during your drive to work? Or, watch your favorite TV show while you fold laundry?
  • Can you organize the clutter so that you don’t waste time looking for things?
  • Can you plan or prepare meals in advance?
  • Can you restrict those times of dawdling or idling?
  • Can you lower your expectations for holidays, extracurricular activities, or family events so that you can have more time?
  • Can you say “no” to people around who need your time and energy?

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 10.28.05 AM

  •  Is there down time 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 have more time?

At our house, nearly every second of the day is assigned somehow.  I know when I’m getting up, when I’m making breakfast for 7 (we eat the same thing every morning, so I don’t waste time thinking about it), when  I’m cleaning up (big girls clean up after breakfast, boys clean up after lunch, I clean up after supper).  I know what I do after breakfast, what my homeschool morning looks like, what my afternoon looks like and what my evening looks like. I know when we clean the house (Saturdays) and when we do the laundry.  I’ve done my best to manage my time, but even then, things come up, plans go awry, someone gets sick or something else happens.

The point is that I’m doing my best to control my time so that when I sit down to write, I can actually accomplish something.

When it all works well, I’m happy, my family learns responsibility, my home is organized and my writing gets done. You can meet your writing goals in small chunks of time. It takes hard work, organization and discipline, but it can be done.

It’s just too bad I can’t bank time to go over the next day.


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.


  • Jess Alter

    Great post on setting aside the time to write every day, Katharine. I appreciate that you tackled (with a wonderfully humorous toughness) the truth about time and writing: it’s not about finding time or even making time, it is identifying where the time leaks are.

    Kudos, and thanks! 🙂