Okay, if I actually had this completely figured out, you'd probably see me in some infomercial, wearing a Hawaiian lei, living the life of a multi-gazillionaire because I figured out the SECRET - shhhh! (And I'd tell you, for only 18 payments of $39.99 a month... Kidding! Just kidding.)
I heard the amazing Lori Getz speak on Internet Safety recently, and she talked about how a lot of Teens complain about having 4 hours of homework a night. She told the audience about sitting down with a friend's teenager and looing at the computer screen that was up while this girl was "doing her homework." There were 9 different windows up - mostly IM, facebook, and other "social" connections - with only one window referencing the homework.
Lori offered the girl an experiment. She had her close every window on the computer but the homework one, turn off her cell phone, and just focus on doing her homework. Just to see how long it would take. Lori sat next to the Teen while she did it.
And guess what? Miraculously, the 4 hours of homework took 45 minutes. And then the girl was done.
Did she maybe not have as much homework as she had thought? Or was something else going on?
I had an epiphany about my time management this week, and it's all because of the wonderful "Comment Challenge" Mother Reader and I put out for the kidlitosphere (and ourselves) to accomplish. 100 comments in 21 days. Aim for 5 comments a day.
But... But... I don't sit at my computer on the weekends. So I start on Mondays needing to do 15 comments. That's too many, and it takes too long. But if I try to do it (and I have) I've used up a lot of the time I'm supposed to be writing. Then, like dominoes, my whole plan for the day falls down.
And a month ago, I had three books that I'd promised my author friends that I'd read and get back to them on by TODAY. I tried to make reading those books fit in, a little every day, but it kept getting pushed off.
See, I had this notion that I should take my available time in a given day, and divide it up according to the number of tasks I have (weighted slightly by the task's urgency or priority.) Kind of like slicing up a pizza.
But that's not really how I read. Or write. Or work. Or do anything.
When I sit down to read a book, I'm happiest if I can grab a chunk of time and read it cover-to-cover. And that's what I did, with almost my entire time on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. And I finished what I had to in less time (and with more enjoyment) than it would have taken to read it 20 minutes a day over 4 weeks.
Some things, like working out and blogging, I managed to do every day - they're the habits, and I'm still trying to add the habit of commenting more on a daily basis...
But the big projects just take chunks of time, and if I give it to them, I'm WAY more efficient.
So I'm trying to think of my available time to work BEYOND a given day, and think of it more like - in a given week, if I read more on days 1 and 2, I'll write more on days 3 and 4, and blog comment more on day 5. (Like 5 different pizzas, with different toppings and crusts for each one...)
I used to think that maybe life and the pursuit of doing all the things I'm trying to accomplish, professionally and personally, is not about having perfect balance in every moment, which would be like levitating 7 balls in the air, but more like sequential juggling, holding on to each ball just long enough to toss it successfully in a perfect arc before snatching the next one out of the air...
But now I'm thinking, maybe it's a different KIND of juggling. Maybe the balance I should really aspire to is more like "contact juggling." Maybe being really good at something looks more like this:
Maybe that Teenage girl only has 45 minutes of homework EVERY night, and she's so busy multi-tasking and IM-ing that it takes her 4 hours to get it done.
Maybe, just maybe, FOCUS is GENIUS!
(That'll be $39.99)*
Now, if I can just figure out how to feel like a writer on the days I don't write because I'm focusing on other tasks, I'll have figured out next month's installment of my Hawaiian infomercial!
*But of course, as an introductory offer, it's absolutely FREE for you, my loyal blog readers!