The New Regimen: Checking In

When my daughter started full-time Kindergarten in September, I celebrated. I was full of plans for how to break out my days and how to balance home-work responsibilities.

So now we’re halfway through October. How’s the new regimen been working for me? Time to check in.

First, I was going to get a lot of writing done. So much writing. I have not gotten as much of that done as I had hoped. I do get my blog post done more quickly, and I have been able to get to other writing in spurts, but not in the focused manner I had envisioned. Part of the problem is that I have taken naps in the afternoon far more than I would like. I’m just not sleeping well at night lately, and if I don’t grab an hour in the afternoon, I am wrecked by the evening.

Second, I was going to get some of these non-writing projects under control and off my To-Do list. I have actually accomplished several of these projects, although, again, not as many as I had hoped. Still, it’s nice to see that To-Do list get smaller!

Third, I wanted to incorporate my exercise routine while my daughter was at school. This I have done fairly well. I generally complete all my walking before I get her from school. In fact, the walk to pick her up usually finishes my step goal for the day. I break up the walking into a few short walks during the day, which gets me out of my chair and gets the blood moving again. So it helps me with the work side of things, too.

Finally, I wanted to try and end the constant push-pull of having to “choose” between working and spending time with my daughter. Whenever I would work while she was home, I would feel guilty. Whenever I would play with her instead of work, I would feel the weight of everything I could be getting done. It was a no-win situation for me—part of my mind was always somewhere else.

In this, at least, I have been pretty successful so far. Because I am able to get the things I must get done finished before I pick my daughter up from school, I can relax into spending the afternoon/evening hours with her until she goes to bed. We can chat or play or go to her extra-curricular events without me feeling pressured by things yet to do. I spent 4 hours at a local farm this weekend going hayriding, pumpkin picking, having lunch, and watching her play, and not once did I stress over things left undone. We had a fun, beautiful day out together.

My relationship with my daughter was the most important part of this new regimen for me, so I feel as if I have made a very successful start. However, I need to address the other parts of the new regimen that are not working so well.

My main problem is focus. The concrete things I know I need to do, I always get done. But then I drift on all the nebulous things I need to do but don’t have to do just yet—with the result that none of them get done. I need to break those things into discreet, concrete pieces and assign them a day. If I can do that, I believe I will find my productivity rising to the level I want. Without a focused, concrete list, my laziness expands to fit my free time.

So overall, my new writing plan is succeeding in the most important parts, but needs some work and adjustment. As is the way of the world, I expect I will finally have my new regimen tweaked and humming along just in time for Christmas break, when it will all fall apart again!

How do you make sure you stick to schedules?

Finding Golden Writing Time

Most writers squeeze their writing in between jobs and/or family. Writing time is precious and rare. But a funny thing happened when I suddenly gained more writing time: I didn’t know what to do with myself.

My daughter started preschool this month, and that gives me about 6 hours a week extra to write. More importantly, it is CONCENTRATED writing time—no distractions from child, phone, or Internet (I work at the local library while she’s in school).

On her first day of school, I had planned what I would work on for the 2 hours I had that morning. Thing is, I had forgotten how much you can get done when there are no distractions—I finished my project in half an hour. So I moved on to another project. Then another. I actually ended up playing Solitaire for the last 5 minutes because I had run out of things that “needed” to be done!

These weeks of her in school have let me be a great deal more prolific in a shorter amount of time. I’m now able to work on short stories in addition to my novels and weekly blog obligations. And once I get home, I still have Toddler’s nap time (when she takes one) and after she’s in bed to work even more.

At first I felt like I needed to keep cramming in writing tasks in the nap and bed time slots. But I found that trying to use ALL my free time for writing was counter-productive. I ended up getting burnt out on the writing. So I did something totally radical. I started using the evenings to do OTHER THINGS I ENJOY! For instance, reading or genealogy or conversing with real people in my life.

I’ll admit I felt guilty at first, having fun during what had been dedicated writing time. I don’t feel guilty any more. Having that fun time has allowed me to focus better when I have the writing time in the morning, and it has left me more energetic and mentally sharp.

I still use nap time for “business” stuff – queries, social media, and, of course, more writing if I feel like it. I also will use the evenings to write if I want to, but I don’t force it if I’m not feeling creative. Overall, I am quite happy with the new writing setup. Am I a bad mommy that I am already looking forward to all-day kindergarten in 2 years? 🙂

Where have you found your golden writing time?

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