Finding the time

This is the time of year when everyone else in publishing seems to take the month off and drink a lot of eggnog.  I, on the other hand, always find myself scrambling to get everything done and feeling overwhelmed by the effort. 

  • Partly this is because I’m thinking, “The year is almost over!  I didn’t do every single one of the things on my to-do list!”  What can I say?  I like having everything crossed off my to-do list. 
  • Partly this is because I like to celebrate the holidays is if it were 1952 (“Let’s string popcorn!”  “No need to buy that!  I can make it!” “Let’s make a really complicated candy recipe that fails six times but we can’t give up until we get it right!”), ignoring the reality that I have a job or three and that to-do list competing for my time. 
  • Partly this is because my daughter has so much time off from school and I work from home, and you do the math.   

But as ever, I have a solution to my time-crunch problem.  I just have to dig it out and remember what it is.


1. Step back.  I ask myself, “What are you doing, why are you doing it, what fills up your day?”

2. I figure out what I can drop, which is usually the least rewarding thing, like watching relatives fight.

3. I ask myself, “What can you hire out/get help with?”

4. I look over my to-do list carefully for the “shoulds” that don’t really matter to me.

5. I try to become more aware of what’s wasting my time.  For example, spending the morning surfing the web when I should be finishing a proposal.

6. I schedule the time.  Whatever is important needs to be put on the calendar.

7. I consolidate.  For example, when my daughter has time off school, I like to plan a few things for her to do so she doesn’t get bored and whiny while I’m trying to work.  (Not that my daughter would ever be bored or whiny.)  I have cookies that I want to bake.  I have a friend who’s also a single mom and who needs a break to do holiday shopping.  I need to give said friend a present.  So, I’ve invited my friend’s daughter over for a cookie-baking session with my daughter, which will accomplish all of these things at once.


What are your strategies for making the best use of your time?