"How did it get so late so soon?"
-- Dr. Seuss
Do you ever wish you had 30 hours a day? Do you postpone favorite activities because you are overwhelmed with chores or obligations? Are your days burdened with to-do lists and guilt trips?"
"How we spend out days is, of course, how we spend our lives."
--Annie Dillard, American author
It's tempting to assume that productive people have more time and/or trouble-free lives. But an assumption like that only wastes more time--and solves nothing. When I was a young wife and mom, I knew that I wanted to write, but I had limited time. Over the years, I learned how to squeeze more out of each day. Sometimes my methods weren't popular, setting off little revolutions in my household, but I found time to write 10 books, spend time with my family, work on a blog, and remodel houses.
If you blog about food, DIY projects, or interior design, you could probably use a few extra daylight hours. It takes supreme organization and physical stamina to create blog posts that involve recipes, painting furniture, hanging art, weeding a garden--not to mention taking step-by-step photos. You want to share projects that might help others, but blogging is such a visual medium, the pressure is always on to stage everything and take bigger and better photographs. A tablescaper or food blogger may need days to gather props. At some point, you may become exhausted, frustrated, or burned-out. You need just a smidgen more time. But where to find it?
The time is already there; the trick is learning how to protect it.
3 Ways to Protect Your Time
Unplug from the world. How much time do you spend online? Talking on the phone? Or doing post-mortems of your own life: "Eeek, why did I say such and such?" "Did I hurt Cousin It's feelings when I told the truth about its hair style?"
While you are working, unplug the phone, turn off your computer, put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door. (I was fond of a "Shhh, Baby's Sleeping!" sign.) Depending on your nature and obligations, this may be easy or difficult. Also, you can piss people off. It takes courage to disconnect. Many women are hard-wired to be nurturing. Many of us would rather eat a bowl of worms that hurt someone's feelings. But self-nurturing is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and others. We're more content if we make time for the things we enjoy. You may want to start with baby steps: put your phone on airplane mode for 1 hour a day. If the sky doesn't fall, bump up the time.
In order to protect your time, it's important to define the activities that are important to you and need protecting. Make a list of the things you love. Then you can make room for them and eliminate time wasters (see #3--Discard). It's helpful to understand your goals, too. What do you want from your blog? Where do you hope to be in 5 years? What matters to you, truly matters? Which activities will possibly help you achieve your goals? And which of these activities do you love? Don't forget to define daily activities that recharge your batteries. Do you love to sit in your garden space? Curl up in an overstuffed chair with a good book? Are you happy when you're baking a layer cake? Poking in a vintage shop?
I saved the most difficult for last: letting go of events, objects, people, and emotions that eat up your time--and your mental energy.
Make a list of the activities that you no longer enjoy, then cut them loose. Ditto for interesting activities that cause too much stress. (If you're ambivalent about discarding an event, define a simple boundary. Limit your involvement, then see how you feel. Remember, baby steps.)
Donate a household object that has become a time suck.
Learn to say no. Say "yes" very, very rarely.
Avoid negative thinking patterns. This is a huge time-eater.
By its nature, the act of "discarding" can ruffle feathers. Sometimes it's easier to hold on than to let go. Do you really want more time? Are you cluttering your days to avoid meeting goals? Are you afraid you'll be perceived as selfish or mean?
Discard your guilt. This is your one and only life. Don't feel guilty for living it.
"Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you."