Time is Relative

Don’t panic! I’m not going to attempt to explain Einstein’s theory of relativity and how it applies to time. But I think we all know that time, or at least our perception of time, can vary a great deal. To a child, a week seems like a year, while to an adult a year passes in the blink of an eye. An hour at work can feel like a day, while an hour spent doing something you love seems like a minute. So we all understand intuitively what we mean when we say that time is relative, even if we can’t explain the physics of time.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I now have about 10 hours a week child-free. The first week I sort of loafed through those 10 hours, enjoying them and doing what I wanted. But even by the end of the first week, a pattern had started to form.

I write in the library when my daughter is at school. The problem is that the library doesn’t open until about an hour after I drop her off most days (Monday is the exception–they open early that day). So I’ve gotten into the habit, now that it’s cooler and I won’t sweat or stink, of walking several thousand steps around the grounds while waiting for them to open. I use this time to think about the things I am going to do once I sit down to work. For instance, much of this blog post was written in my head as I walked.

Then I sit in my car or at the tables in front of the library (depending on weather) and fire up my laptop. My laptop battery won’t last the full hour, so it’s just as well I walk for some of the time. Exercise is important, too! Then I work on whatever I need to until the library opens, when I move the writing party inside and can plug in.

My problem has been in planning what to do each day. I always do have a plan of action, but it always turns out to be woefully inadequate to the amount of time available–I often run out of planned things to do long before the two hours is up. Because, see, time is relative–a child-free hour is massively more productive than a child-full hour. But after a summer of writing catch-as-catch-can, it is hard to remember just how much work can be done when you’re not constantly being interrupted!

Almost 4 times as much work.

That’s a lot.

I need to get better at planning what I’m going to work on, because there is no doubt that when I have a focus or a path firmly in mind when I sit down, I write faster and better and more than if I sit and stare and wonder what to do next. This goes for fiction as well as non-fiction. If I know what chapters I plan to work on, I can really think them through the night before, the morning of, and while I’m walking, so I can sit down and really write, instead of thinking. Thus getting the most out of my concentrated writing time.

So, to be at my most productive, I have to realign my brain to Non-Parental Standard Time when I plan my child-free writing hours. And then switch back to Parental Sanity Savings Time once I pick up Preschooler.

I sure hope I can avoid the jet lag.

What makes time fly (or drag) for you?

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