Saturday, December 10, 2011

How to Manage Time without the Benefit of a Time Machine

By Marisa A. Corvisiero

It's Saturday morning and I'm torn by all of the things I need to do and read, and the things that I should do with my family. If I didn't want to do any of any of it my choice would be simple. The problem is that I want to do it all. However, it is difficult put up a tree, and edit a manuscript, and draft a contract at the same time. I can do it in my head, but that's not fair to anyone. I guess it comes down to time management. How do I manage my time without the benefit of relativistic time dilation. I suppose that it comes down to the same old thing...the essence of time management.

As an agent, consultant, lawyer, mom and wife (not necessarily in that order, though my husband may disagree) I'm constantly juggling a number of things in my office, at home, and in my head. As you can imagine in my professional life, I often get asked many of the same questions, but the one that comes up more often than others is how do you do it all? Now, although I may smile and reply with a dismissive humorous line, the truth is that it concerns me. I'm concerned that I may appear distracted, and overworked, or, God forbid, inefficient. Because lets face it, when you're juggling sooner or later a ball or two will be making contact with the ground or your head.

As those of you out there that are in similar positions, with day jobs, writing goals and a family, etc., you know that the answer is twofold. First, it take a lot of organizing and sticking to the schedule. In other words, discipline. Second, it is plain and simple hard work. I'm not a fan of the expression, "nothing in life comes easy"... because, well, some things do. But success more often than not requires dedication, determination, persistence, sometimes a little bit of luck, and always good organization and time management.

Funny...I started writing this post as a facebook post. It was going to be three lines as I contemplated what to do next. Aside from being invited to a fabulous Corvisiero family party this eve among other plans, my boys need hair cuts before we take their Christmas picture, which I need to use for our holiday card, which should have gone out last week (in a perfect world). And we've yet to get a tree, and the boys want to make gingerbread houses, and my uncle is visiting from overseas this week, and my dad's birthday is coming up, and there are the errands to be run, and the cleaning, and the laundry... well you get the picture. I didn't even mention Christmas presents. And don't let me get into the manuscripts to read, and the queries to review, and clients' work to review/edit, and clients' work to submit, and consulting and legal projects, and the management, and the new Literary Powerhouse Consulting website (going public this week) and all the data and ideas for the PORTAL (going public probably in February) etc. etc. So that's a hand full of over shared information right there, but there is a point in me mentioning it. Many of you are in the same boat. Most of us have families, homes, friends, jobs etc. So the only way to survive is to manage our time the right way. Are you thinking that I should probably be doing some of this instead of writing this post? Yes, me too, but in a way I think that I'm writing it to help me process. I'm a writer too, and this is how my brain works. Hopefully my words of crazy will help someone else too. :)

...So (deep breath) how do I apply the time management skills I speak of? First, I prioritize. And of course a list will started. (I'm famous for my lists.) I will list the things that are the most important. What needs to get done today and what can wait until tomorrow. Then I add in the things that I'd like to do today. Then in way of a schedule, I give them priority numbers so that they are then ordered in chronology and make a tentative and realistic schedule with plenty of wiggle room to avoid stress. Note that I said realistic. Over scheduling is a sure way to NOT having a successfully scheduled day, and it guarantees stressful situations. And stress does not a happy day make.

Once the schedule is made, I try to stick with it as much as possible. This will ensure that we have a productive day and get most of it done. Yes, I said most of it. Why? Because as the expression goes, "schedules are made to be broken". What I'm saying is that it is okay to change the schedule. You don't need to stress yourself to keep with the schedule. After all, this is your schedule. So if the need comes, or if you feel like it, throw it into the fireplace and enjoy that cocoa or glass of your fav drink while you watch it burn. And enjoy it!

Which is actually a good segue into the secret of juggling, which is to remember to have fun. Yes, you need to organize, and you need to have a schedule and stick with it. But you don't have to create stress for yourself. As long as you are disciplined most of the time. The occasional slip to take care of yourself and yours is the most important thing you can do to keep your sanity. Take time to enjoy yourself, to recharge so that you can keep going. Because keep going you must!

Happy juggling!